A RUTABAGA BY ANY OTHER NAME
I have often said that the title of my new book, Graves of His Personal Liking, will probably be changed. That’s okay. I am not in love with the title. Originally, through the first draft and the rewrites, I called the book, Wild Horses. The title fit even if there aren’t any wild horses in the book–you’d have to read it to understand. I changed the title because a quick search of the internet and Amazon revealed that fifteen gazillion books called Wild Horses have already been published, and that’s just this year. One day I came across the Alexander Smith quote: “Every man’s road in life is marked by the graves of his personal liking.” It fits the plot, and the few people who have read the manuscript agree that it is a proper title for the book. However, the company that agreed to publish the book likes short titles. In their introductory letter they say that readers are more attracted to books with two and three word titles. I guess they’re right. Who would ever buy a book with a long title like, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Three word titles are better such as The Pelican Brief by John Grisham, or even one word titles like Misery by Stephen King. I suspect that “by John Grisham” and “by Stephen King” has more to do with the success of those books than the actual title. I have an idea! I could call my book, Wild Horses by Stephen King. I’m sure it would have outstanding sales. But again, it is a five-word title, and that’s not even taking into account the legal ramifications.
I am sure my book’s title will eventually be shortened to something like, Graves or Trail of Graves or Wild Graves or Horse’s Graves or Dances with Graves or Graves of Harry Potter— again the legal ramifications. There are probably only two or three gazillion books already with some of those titles. In the long run it really doesn’t make any difference. It is what is under that title page that makes or breaks a book. Or as Shakespeare said: “A rutabaga by any other name…” or something like that. I can never remember.