The One About Titles

First things first: I hope you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving! I have about an hour before our turkey is ready, so I thought I'd check in here. (Trying to get back into good blogging habits, however hard it is at times!) SO. If you follow me on Tumblr and Twitter, this won't be new information, but I need to update everyone who only reads here--Black is the Color has a new title! After weeks and weeks of back and forth between my publisher (really, it sounds like everyone at Hyperion weighed in), my agent, and myself, we finally came up with a title that works both as a book and series title: The Darkest Minds.

The number one question that emerges from this change is, of course, why we changed it at all. I have a real soft spot for Black is the Color as a title, as do many of the people who have read early drafts and understand what it means/where it comes from. But that's the root of the problem right there--you have to read the book to really understand what the title is all about (and trust me, when you read it you will ALL get it and see why I picked it). That generally doesn't make for a super... marketable title. A memorable one, yes, but also a confusing one.

One of the reasons why I haven't been able to share a cover with you yet is that the designer has had to go back to the drawing board several times. Black is the Color ended up being an extremely hard title to work with from a cover perspective--certain images and styles made it look like a book centered on race relations, others made it look too much like a book about a painter or painting in general. Originally, I had been hoping that Hyperion would go with a typography-based cover (the design being centered around the font, rather than a cover image--a great example of this is Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Beautiful Creatures), but Sales felt that if we were sticking with the title, we needed to have human beings on the cover--but the human being covers weren't really working either. By giving the story a new title, the designer has a bit more range in the images/style they can choose.

Anyway, anyway--I'm not at all upset about the title change. I had always expected it to go at some point in the process, and was shocked--and I mean shocked--when my agent didn't ask me to change it before submissions, and my editor didn't ask me to start thinking of new titles right from the get-go. The great thing about The Darkest Minds is that it clues you in from the start that the story is centered around "special" minds--I mean, the story is about telekinetic kids! Of course "minds" should be in the title. And, even better, it's the kind of title that leads you to think it's about one thing, but, by the time you're finished, will have you wondering if you were actually wrong on who possesses the darkest minds. :)

To be completely honest, the absolute best title for the story/series is Dangerous Minds. But, you know, taken:

(Gotta defer to Coolio and Michelle Pfeiffer, obv.)

I can't even tell you how many possible titles we went through to arrive at this one--I must have sent my editor and agent something like 50 of them, and they came back with even more, but none of the felt right to all of us. All of my favorite titles are on the longer side (The Things They Carried, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Never Let Me Go, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), and I think we all felt like the YA community has exhausted most of the adverbs, nouns, adjectives, verbs that work as compelling single-word titles.

Turkey time! I hope you and yours have a wonderful day full of family, love, and yummy delicious food.