This is the fifth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work, the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life and last week’s post provided insight into starting a book project.
Although we always say never judge a book by its cover, it cannot be denied that first impressions are important. When you pick up a book, the first thing you see is a book’s title and cover. It is important to find a title that grabs the reader’s attention, makes an impact, and also reflect the book itself. That is a lot of expectations heaped on just a few words.
I was so honored to be a guest on Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program in 1997. We had begun a writing correspondence and she mentored me through her letters. She asked me to come on her program and tell our story. After we finished taping 3 days worth of programs, she said, “Juana, you know you are going to have to write a book. Call it, “Don’t Dump Him.” I was so busy with 4 young children, and my fourth child was born totally blind and partially deaf. Twelve years went by as I was a dyed-in-the-wool stay-at-home-mother and found motherhood absolutely a calling and delightful (nothing will ever surpass it, no book—no accomplishment—nothing. I left a six-figure income with Xerox in sales to teach my children at home. When we stopped home-schooling after 13 years, I began the manuscript entitling it, you guessed it, “Don’t Dump Him.” After I was blessed with an agent, we still kept the title the same as she shopped for publishers. We decided to reverse the title to make it a more positive statement flipping it to, “Choosing Him All Over Again.” I’m glad we offer that alternative title, and in the end my publisher chose it. That honored my husband too, for he never liked, “Don’t Dump Him!”
That’s funny you should ask, because I have no process. Though they are not all published yet, by God’s goodness, I have written three books. All three were different when it came to finding a title. From Dishes to Snow was originally titled ‘The Little Red House,’ but that didn’t pop. Not until I was reworking a scene at the end of the book and the words just came out, did I realize that those words needed to be on the front cover as well. From Driftwood to Sapphire’s title came in the middle of writing it. I knew I wanted the sequel to have the same type of title, so I intentionally thought of driftwood and sapphire and did my best to work it into the story. The third novel’s title came before the first word was typed. Since it has not yet been published, I’ll keep its name a mystery for now. 😉 So, the process for creating a title? For me, there is none. The title shows up on its own time table.
Choosing a title is definitely tricky. I wanted the title to convey the message of the story, but also connect a stranger to the story when he / she picks it up off of a shelf in a bookstore. I’m drawn to bold titles, lyrical titles, and memorable titles. You want people to remember the name of the book when they talk about it or share it with others. And the title and cover have to tie so closely together; a strong or intriguing title with a cover equally as strong and intriguing is a powerful draw.
I always find that coming up with a title is one of the hardest parts of writing a book, what was your process for creating a title?
I really have no one to credit for my titles except God! Every other title I’ve come up with in my life was a struggle (and really terrible titles, haha), but The 20th Christmas were the words I saw when I opened my eyes after having the dream. A similar situation happened with Caged Dove–I was walking around my house with the laundry basket and that title just came to me. When I looked up Scripture about doves, I had chills–Psalm 55:6 fits my book to a T. I knew there was no better way to begin Caged Dove than with that Bible verse!
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