What’s in a Name?

Book titles are important. I have often selected a novel to read, attracted by its title alone. Most recently, I came across the novel My Sister the Serial Killer, which caught my interest and made me laugh. Of course I read the book, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. Yes, it was funny, like the title, but not as funny as I’d hoped. Still, I did read the book.

Some other novels I’ve read because of their titles include:

The Other Wife (Michael Robotham)–I couldn’t resist a story of bigamy.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sanchez)–exactly what it says it is.

Insomnia (Stephen King)–what can I say, I’m an insomniac.

It’s Not About the Accent (Caridad Ferrer)–what I expected, a story about Latina culture, is what I got.

When I started writing novels, my primary concern, of course, was developing a good plot. I didn’t begin to think about the title of my first novel until I was halfway done with the first draft. I initially chose the title, Tranquila, which sums up the state of confident happiness that the protagonist is trying to reach. One of my beta readers advised me to change the title, because it might be bypassed by English-language readers who could assume it’s a book in Spanish. I finally settled on the title, My Doormat Days, because it’s the coming-of-age story of a mousy young woman seeking to become more self-confident. It’s also a title that hints at the humor in the book. My most recent novel is titled White Mexican, about a young Mexican American woman struggling with her racial identity.

Each time I mention the titles of these novels in conversation, the reaction is positive. The titles draw attention and interest, which every author hopes will encourage people to read the book.


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