Finding the right book title is a lightning-bolt experience—or, at least what I assume a lighting-bolt experience is like. In any case, you know when you’ve been hit. And for me, if I don’t have a title locked into place before the agents, editors, publishers, sales and marketing departments start weighing in, the process can become incredibly fraught.
With IF I STAY, it was never an issue because I never actually had to consciously think up the title. It just arrived, as part of the conception of the book. If I stay…it’s the central premise of the novel, the profound decision that Mia must make. I knew what the book would be titled well before I knew what I’d call my characters (I didn’t name Mia’s until about forty pages in ) or indeed what her ultimate decision would turn out to be (that I truly didn’t figure out until I was halfway through writing the book). At one point, my agent mentioned that she didn’t love the title and I half-heartedly threw out a few alternatives, but I don’t think I ever seriously considered changing it, and she warmed to the name. Once the manuscript went out to publishers, no one suggested changing it, thank goodness.
Thank you a bunch Gayle for the wonderful story!
If any author wants more details on how you can do an On The Outside post with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with On The Outside in the subject line and I'll get to you immediately with the details!