January 4, 2014


If you have written a picture book or middle grade novel, you probably have a particular title in mind for your work.  But be aware that if the piece is accepted for publication, the title you have chosen may be altered.  This is common in the world of publishing. 

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, published by Bloomsbury in London in June 1997, was actually called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  A year later, Scholastic published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Perhaps the editors felt the word “philosopher” didn’t stress magic as much as the word “sorcerer.”  

Other famous children’s book titles have been changed. For instance, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was originally titled Mistress Mary.  Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was originally titled simply Alice.  The same holds true for adult books. The Shine became The Shining by Stephen King, Fiesta became The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingwayand Atticus became To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   

Knowing that book titles are often changed should not make you lazy about choosing a great title for your work.  A title is the first thing editors and agents will probably consider before reading the first paragraph.  So buck up and spend time choosing a great title. Make a list of possibilities.  Imagine these titled books on a shelf.  Which one of your titles screams:  “Pick me up and read me.”  This is what you’re aiming for.  

Choose the very best title your story deserves regardless that it might be changed.  An attention-grabbing title whets the appetite of an editor or a literary agent.  It gets them in the mood to seriously consider your work.

Here’s link to see the original titles of famous books:

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