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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tell Me a Secret Tuesday: Title Secrets + Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf!

When I sold my book, I had no idea one of the toughest - and more important - elements would be the title.

We had gone through over 200 ideas - some OK, some pretty terrible. I had an original title, BRIMSTONE SOUP, which made it sound paranormal. We had a temporary title, A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT, which made it sound ethereal (though at least there would be good Smiths music in that nebulous, wordy place). We talked about a few more - THE DARKEST LIGHT, FLY ME AWAY, SECRETS OF MY IMMACULATE LIFE, WHAT WOULD XANDA DO - that just weren't striking the right note.

The 11th hour was fast approaching - 3 days before it had to go in the catalogue!

So I called my friend Jet Harrington, who hadn't read the book, but I know she's an out-of-the-box thinker. She had some great suggestions, which broke me out of the spiral of previous ideas. (She even thought of the title of a not-then-released Carolyn Mackler novel - Go, Jet!)

That night, as I was falling asleep, I remembered a conversation between two sisters in the very first chapter. "Tell me a secret," says the older sister, "and I'll tell you one."

I sat up. Grabbed sleeping husband. Said, "Honey! Tell me a secret! TELL ME A SECRET!" My editor loved it, too, and the rest is history. (Thank you, subconscious!)

In the process of looking for the perfect title, I learned a little about what makes a good one:

1. Rolls off the tongue.
2. Gets to the the heart of the book.
3. Has the indescribable factor that makes you go, "Ooooh."

What about you? What titles make you go, "Ooooh?"

Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour

Today I'm very excited to be visiting Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, where we're talking about the villains of TMAS, theme songs, and favorite words. Lauren said about TMAS, "I LOVED it!" Hooray!

Don't forget to comment here and at Lauren's post for a chance to win a signed copy + other swag!


  1. I think Libba bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty is a fantastic title. Whoever puts terrible and beauty together?

  2. I don't know what title really has impressed me; there've been so many! I guess the Gallagher Girls books would be a good example-each one is catchy and clever!

  3. Thats so funny that your subconcious is the reason for your title. Also, thats cool that "tell me a secret" is apart of a conversation- I love when that happens in a book wheree the name of thr title is mentioned somewhere. :)

  4. That's great how the title came to be. Plus I really think it's perfect for the book :) I like the title of the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. My Soul to Take, Save, Keep, and the next book is Steal. It all goes together and makes sense in the book.

  5. Emily Whitman's RADIANT DARKNESS had me at 'radiant' and swallowed me whole by 'darkness'. I love the juxtaposition of the two words which are seemingly at odds, much like Libba Bray's 'terrible beauty'.

  6. Love the title! I think it really works.

    Some other great titles:
    - The Truth About Forever
    - The Unwritten Rule
    - North of Beautiful

  7. I agree! I love the title, I think it's genius.

    I also agree with Ashley, I think that the Unwritten Rule is an AMAZING title. It's just so true.

    It's very interesting to learn about these kinds of things!


  8. Awww... thank you for the shout-out, Holly. It was great to brainstorm with you - I'm such a word-geek, that's the kind of stuff I do for fun. ;-)

    As to titles, I'm a fan of longish ones that pique my curiousity, such as AGATB, or The Art of Racing in the Rain, one word titles, such as any of Ellen Hopkins' books or Tangled (!) or Speak, or ones that seem like odd juxtapositions, such as North of Beautiful, Fat Vampire (out this month), or Absolutely Maybe.

    Still, while a great title is cool, I think it usually matters more to me after the fact, when I see how it ties into the book. I don't think it's the title that gets me to pick up the book in the first place.

  9. I love those moments that make you sit up in bed because its a stroke of genius!

  10. Hehe, great story about your book title, Holly! I gain a big burst of energy past 12 am, to the point where my memory is at its peak and I remember all that I was meant to do hours ago, as well as just generally function better. However, I'm a disaster early in the morning. Don't even try before 9 am.

    Also, I like all that Jet Harrington wrote-- everything she said is so very true for me too.

  11. "Honey! Tell me a secret! TELL ME A SECRET!"
    Oh man, I laughed so hard!
    Love, Hannah

  12. I think the title fits your book so well. You just never know when or where inspiration will hit you.

  13. 3. Has the indescribable factor that makes you go, "Ooooh." I'd say this is the most important thing when choosing a title for a book ;)

    I tend to prefer titles quoting other famous literary pieces. Don't really know why, but it makes me terribly curious and eager to read a book.