April is a happening month. I’m not saying that just because my birthday is on April 1st. Here’s what it’s like being born on April Fools’ Day:
“So you coming to my birthday party tomorrow?”
“Isn’t tomorrow April Fools’ Day?”
“Yeah, but it’s also my birthday. Seriously.”
“There’ll be cake and stuff.”
“Maybe a clown. I think I heard my mom on the phone ordering a clown.”
“So, uh, you’re coming right?”
“Of course! I’m totally going to go buy you a birthday present and give it to you tomorrow. Totally.”
And if “awesome” meant being alone with a clown and a bunch of cake, then it totally was. Which it wasn’t.
One of the recent April showers for me was going though the process of working on the name of my forthcoming book. I say showers because it felt a little like standing outside as a thunderclap opened up over my head. What I’m learning is that you probably shouldn’t get too invested in the name of your book—at least not upfront. Your editor, your publisher, and the marketing and sales folks are going to have a lot of input and a rubber-hits-the-road perspective (for example, they’re quick to point out that a name like The Winter of My Despondency is not that funny sounding). Turns out my feeling of being rained on was more a result of my long history of living with my notion of the title in my head, than whether or not I was making the right choice. That’s a lot of time and emotion to overcome, and why I suggest thinking of your book name as a placeholder (unless you’re way better at naming books than I am — which you probably are.)
In my case, Max Spencer and the Codex of Infinite Knowability was ultimately changed to Bad Unicorn. This was first proposed by my editor at Simon & Schuster and then followed by a whole-hearted endorsement from my agent. And despite my initial feeling of getting rained on, it turns out they were right. One small piece of anecdotal evidence I have for this is that my film agent had been pitching the book with the original name to several studios. One studio that had passed on it, read about the deal under the new name and promptly sent a request for the manuscript. I think that’s a good sign, and goes to show that despite whatever artistic angst I could have mustered up to the contrary, my editor and agent know a thing or two about how these things work.
Often what feels like a proverbial shower may actually have a nifty rainbow at the end — especially if you trust the people around you. In my case, that rainbow included a unicorn that likes to gore things with her horn — bonus!