Fun with titling

I previously announced my next title as RIP vol. 1: Choices. Today, while printing out free samples for tomorrow’s Hanover Book Festival, I decided the title needs to be RIP vol. 1: Choices After Death.

Two words. One prepositional phrase. And it feels like it makes all the difference.

“Choices” kept feeling too vague and generic to me. It certainly fit a theme of the book, as the earthbound ghosts in RIP are basically in purgatory and it’s up to each individual to decide whether to work toward Heaven or waste away until Hell calls. Plus, Rip himself has to choose to snap out of his funk and to embrace his mission to stop the wicked ghosts from haunting the living.

So I was definitely on the right track by including “choices” somewhere in the title. But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t distinguish the book, didn’t help it stand out. It didn’t spark the imagination in any way.

“Choices After Death,” however, begs the question…What can you possibly choose after death? Aren’t you already dead? What’s going on here? It lends an exotic air that “Choices” alone did not.

It’s not too terrible that I had already mentioned “Choices” as the title. The title is only growing by two words, and nothing else is changing. Anyone plugging RIP Choices into a search engine should still land on RIP vol. 1: Choices After Death.

I went through something similar with Earths in Space. For many months while I was writing the initial drafts, the working title was just “Earths.” Even when it was in an editor’s hands, it was still just “Earths.”

Again, I was on the right track. The series takes us to numerous alternate Earths throughout the universe, and Earth isn’t a word we tend to see in the plural. But I knew it was missing something. It lacked the sense of fun I wanted, lacked the whimsy.

I don’t recall exactly how I landed on it. Maybe a subconscious suggestion from my Muppet-fueled childhood. But once I typed the words “Earths in Space,” I knew that was it. Nothing else would do.

After all, it’s not an alternate reality series. These Earths are other planets in our same universe. That title is more descriptive while packing in the necessary level of fun.

By the way, I also recently came up with the full title for the next volume:

Earths in Space vol. 2: We Must Evolve

Given my track record, it’s probably missing two words somewhere, or just a prepositional phrase.