Twice while at the Colorado Gold Fiction Writers Conference early this month, I came face to face with the fact that the working title of a novel, especially the title by a first-time author, will most likely not be the title a novel is published under.
The first occasion came at the master class on query development, when several of the writers noted that the working title for my mss, A Traveler’s Tale (ATT), has already been used in whole or in part by YA and literary fiction authors.
The second instance came at a session that went into detail about what one would expect between the time an agent signed a new writer until first publication. On the subject of titling a new work, session facilitator Katharine Sands explored some options: a title accepted as given (unlikely), a title developed by the publisher; or perhaps–and this one surprised me–by booksellers.
While these options might be surprising, they’re hardly unsettling. I’ve always used ATT as a working title. I’ve always understood that when sold, the novel would face editing, which would probably include a title change. After all, I would want a title that speaks smartly about the plot, has marketing/sales legs, and that engages the curiosity of would-be readers.
So where does that leave me as the author? Well, because of the way my mind works, it leaves me thinking of new title options, but it also relieves me of having to find the perfect title before I query agents for representation, something that takes a good amount of my time and in which I’m much involved now.