A Rose by Any Other Name

I have a question of great importance that I thought I should share with you today.

How important is the title of a book?

You see, working on my WIP this week, I had what I thought was an epiphany regarding the title. The working title is currently THIS SHADOW LIFE, which is okay, but I’m not overly attached to it. Now, not being terribly attached to a WIP title isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It isn’t unusual for publishers to change a novel’s title before publication, so maybe a lack of attachment is a good thing. But I do have other works, outlined but not yet started, whose titles I adore, and I’d love to feel that way about Alice’s story. I think she deserves that. It’s a bit like picking a name for your child once they’re two years old – you really want to get it right.

So, this week, while I was editing, a line Alice uses jumped off the page and hit me in the face, did a song and dance, flashed some lights, rang some bells and screamed “pick me”. And it would even connect perfectly to the last line of the synopsis I have written….


…synopsis, plot, character, synopsis (sorry, no spoilers today!), blah, blah blah…

Told in alternating narratives, this is the story of the battle between holding on and letting go and true happiness lying somewhere in the middle.

Perfect. *dusts off hands* I was so excited. Then I shared my amazing new title with my sister (one of my beta readers), and…

She hates it!

Bam – ouch!

Given that none of you have read the novel or even an extract from it, it’s hard for you to judge, I guess. But it does beg the question – excluding personal deal breakers (for me, for example, if the ‘c’ word were in a title, or it was clearly a subject I had no interest in)…

Does a title influence your decision to pick a book up off the shelf?

Sometimes, when books are published in foreign territories, their titles are changed. This could be for language reasons – it simply doesn’t translate; or cultural reasons – a reference that wouldn’t be understood. But, even between Australia, US and UK, titles can change.

Kate Morton’s first novel was published in Australia as

UK Title

UK Title

Australian Title

Australian Title


While I certainly prefer the OZ title, I don’t dislike the UK version and I’m not sure either would sway me for or against if I knew nothing about Morton and her books.


Santa Montefiore’s THE AFFAIR (UK) was published in the US as PERFECT HAPPINESS.

US Title

US Title

UK Title

UK Title

Is one better than the other???

As for the changes in cover design, well, we’ll chat about that another time (here).




So, peeps…

Does it ultimately matter what the novel is called?

Have you ever been influenced, one way or the other, purely because of a title?

Do I trust my gut and ignore my sister? (I’m too scared now to share it with my other beta reader).

Without knowing anything about my WIP except the blurb (here), do you lean toward one title over the other? Or doesn’t it matter?


My burning questions to you this week.

S 🙂



10 thoughts on “A Rose by Any Other Name

  1. krystal jane

    I know sometimes titles change because the meaning of the words in different countries are different. Like Harry Potter’s Philosopher’s Stone changed to Sorcerer. I love The Shifting Fog by the way.

    In this case, my opinion is always, it’s your book. Not anyone else’s. My sister always HATES my titles and thinks they’re stupid 90% of the time. In fact, I just got her approval on a title for a WIP for only the second time in my life. Does her opinion of my title matter? No, it doesn’t.

    All this said, I freaking love THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE AND NOWHERE. Love it!

    But it’s your book. Pick the title you’re in love with. 🙂
    If it gets changed, it gets changed, but we have to call it something, it might as well be something we like.

  2. Elisabeth Hamill (@SongMagick)

    I do have to say that titles have turned me away from books before, but Krystal is right. It’s your book! Without knowing specifics it’s hard to say for an outsider like me to know which is more appropriate or poignant, etc. Go with what you like. If your publisher hates it, that’s something else 😉

  3. BRMMC

    Being a blogger follower novice I hadn’t seen these comments before I voted for The Middle of Somewhere and Nowhere – I think that other beta reader would love it Ms Docker 🙂 It’s fab & seems totally right considering the tiny insights I’ve been privileged to be privy to… LOVE your work

  4. BRMMC

    Oh & I agree with Krystal too – The Shifting Fog was a better title than The House at Riverton…. and btw Ms Docker The Point just has to be THE title I can’t imagine it being called anything else (there – guantlet laid to all the publishers out there reading this to see if they can come up with a better one when they take it up & make the Call) – yes I’ve read the writing terms bit on the website too which is a good feature to add….
    & to actually answer your original question – I think the title is important for snagging inital interest but for me the blurb or synopsis is what really decides for me if I will read the book – that being said, I think I would have HAD to read “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” on title alone 🙂

    1. sandiedocker Post author

      And someone I was talking to the other day said they wouldn’t have picked up Sifting Fog, but would have The House at Riverton. Just goes to show how subjective this whole thing is. I guess you just have to trust in the publisher to get the title-cover-blurb combination right!!! Thanks for popping by MC.

  5. Tina

    Having just come home from the bookstore when I read Sandie’s last blog – I think that both the cover and the title are initially important – I had just unconsciously scanned the shelves – picked up books based on the cover picture, then glimpsed at the title and finally based the purchase on the blurb. Could also factor in the mood you are in when you go to buy the book. Maybe the current rain situation has me liking the House of Riverton (sun is shinning on cover) rather than Shifting Fog.

    1. sandiedocker Post author

      Thanks Tina, mood probably does play a role. Fog is probably the last thing any of us want to be thinking about right now with this rain. Covers are indeed very important, and that leads us nicely into tomorrow’s post……..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s