One of my agent’s suggestions for the book we’re working on (formerly known as Touch) was to change the title. Two YA books came out last year with that same title, plus one called Touched. There’s the new TV show Touch, an adult novel from 2011 and others before that. Touch is a really good fit for my story…and, it turns out, a lot of others. So, I’m a hundred percent on board with finding something more distinctive. But what? And where do I go for inspiration?
The Manuscript Itself. Sometimes there’s a phrase or word that fits the story perfectly, like Touch. I was hoping there’d be something else. I found Stark Black Numbers, Don’t Touch Me, The Things They Say About Me, A Huge, Ugly Something…nothing quite right.
Poetry. Super-evocative short phrases work great as titles. When There Is Nothing In You, Only Stand and Watch, The Things You Give Your Life To. I think poetry-inspired titles are really memorable and intruiging, but they tend to sound very literary. My book is a YA speculative fiction pre-murder mystery, not Moby Dick. Next.
Quotes. Like poetry, but not as poetic. I plugged in my key words touch, see, death and a few others at brainyquote and got Finishing Touch, The Human Touch, If We Touch Tomorrow, A Touch That Never Hurts and a bunch of other stuff. Nothing I loved.
Friends. My agent threw in some ideas and I asked some other writers. A Touch of Murder, Touching Murder, The Hands of Death. Too mystery/genre. Destiny’s Touch, Touch Me Not. Too…romance novel?
After a while the eighty-plus titles on my “maybe” list all sounded equally bad. Or equally good. So I took the weekend off, came back to it this morning and think I have a favorite - a combination of friend suggestions, the original title and a poem.
Naming a book, like naming a child, feels really hard. At first, everything sounds weird and foreign and it seems so important to pick Just The Right One. But eventually you decide, maybe still second-guessing, and a month later, you’ve said and thought it so many times, it just is and you can’t really imagine it being called anything else.