Why Are Titles So Hard?

The title of my next novel will be The Fantastic Inventions of Dr. Flax.


This title is currently being debated in meetings behind the doors of Godwin Books, an imprint of Henry Holt Books For Young Readers, which is owned by Macmillan Books.

I am not invited to these meetings.

Authors rarely are and I often wonder why. My editor emailed me “just to see if I have any other suggestions” which was a big hint that TFIODF was on the chopping block. When I said, “But I like our working title!” she again asked if I had perhaps thought of some other possibilities to consider.

My long hyperbolic title must be defective in some way that I’m sure relates to marketing – perhaps it’s not catchy enough or hooky enough or sound likes too many other titles (I do think the word FANTASTIC is one of those overused words like AMAZING or MAGICAL or PECULIAR, but still, I like it!)

Titles seem to be more about marketing while the story is the story. It’s easier for me to write a 50,000 word novel than to come up with a hooky title, so maybe it’s best I’m not a part of those meetings.

Some of the other titles I suggested are pretty good, I think. One week I thought about titles instead of writing and here’s what I came up with:

Robots, Bubbles, & Slime

What’s He Building In There? (I stole this one from Tom Waits)

The Girl Who Built A Spider (At least half of the books on any given best seller list include the word “Girl.”)

Whoops, I Froze The Planet

Hurricanes Blow

Science Can Kill You

This Books Contains Robots And Explosions

Three Seventh-Grade Science Fair Winners Are Nearly Murdered Multiple Times

Any of these titles would be fine by me. The editors and marketers and other secret meeting attendants still haven’t decided though – as far as I know. If YOU have any title ideas, please let me know and I’ll forward them on. I don’t think knowledge of the story is a prerequisite for a good title.

I’d love it if you came up with a title and it was chosen. Then you’d probably be inclined to read the story.

Thank you!

⁓ George 6/1/22


  1. Ryan on June 1, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    Try it, and Ill Blow You Into Space.
    What You Don’t Know Might Explode and Kill You.
    Hey! Those Are My Radishes!

    • George Brewington on June 1, 2022 at 8:54 pm

      Man, these are all pretty good. Hey! Those Are My Radishes! made me laugh so hard I had to examine why radishes are the funniest of all possible vegetables. I might have to write a whole nother novel just so I can use this title. Unless you want to write a novel to match this glorious title. Let’s both do it. Let’s race!