Book Titles

Recently I got a terrific manuscript submission. It was timely, practical, standards-based, and really well-written. It was definitely a manuscript I wanted to pursue in terms of publishing. Only one major problem with it–what would it be called? The author had not given it a title. When I called and spoke with her about the project and asked her what the title would be, she drew a blank. She is definitely not the first author to respond that way.

Since the material that we publish comes from classroom teachers, very often they don’t have a title for what they submit. Their books are what they have done in the classroom that has proven to be very successful. So they send it in and leave it to us to come up with titles. In my next life I want to be a nail-polish-namer because you can really make up any name for nail polish. “Blissful Blush” or “Vivacious Verve” still don’t tell you the colors, but they make you want to buy the product. But what works for one industry may not work for another, especially educational publishing. Teachers need to know immediately what they are buying. They need to know if it will fit into their curriculum at a glance. So the title becomes very important.

So how do we finally come up with a title? We are limited by space, so that becomes one of the major hurdles to overcome. Sometimes it’s as easy as reading through the book and having something really pop out at you. Other times, we might brainstorm and choose the best title. If we’re on the fence about a title, I may go to our Online Advisory Panel and ask their opinion. Eventually we’ll find the right title, but it can take months sometimes.

Are we being successful with the titles of our books? Do you buy them based on the title? Is there something we can do to make them more appealing to you? Do you have a favorite title of one of our books? I’d love to know.

2 thoughts on “Book Titles”

  1. Kathleen Schenley

    I am a veteran educator (37 years) currently working as a resource coordinator at Carolina Friends School in Durham , North Carolina. As I tried out some of the reading assessments in Dr. Fry’s collection (most of which I love), I became concerned about the predominance of male references, usually in places where gender had no bearing on the substance of the text. Here are my suggested rewrites for the 3rd edition:

    Suggested revisions to Oral Reading Test
    from Informal Reading Assessments by Edward Fry
    ISBN 978-0-7439-3074-1

    The door of the house opened, and a man came out. He had a broom in his hand. He said to the child sitting there, “Go away.” The child got up and left.

    When the van had gone, the children were surprised to see how many boxes were left in their little backyard. Right away they began to pile them on top of each other. It took so long that lunchtime came before they knew they were hungry.

    Three more cowhands tried their best to rope and tie a calf as fast as Red, but none of them came within ten seconds of the time. Then came a tall, thin cowhand, the last one to enter the contest.

    Workers from suburban areas may travel to work in helicopters, land on the roof of an office building, and thus avoid city traffic jams. Families can spend more time at vacation places through the use of this marvelous craft. People on farms can reach city centers quickly for medical service, shopping, entertainment, or sale of products.

    The President of the United States was speaking. The audience was comprised of two-thousand foreign-born persons who had just been admitted to citizenship. They listened intently, their faces aglow with the light of a newborn patriotism, upturned to the calm, intellectual face of the First Citizen of the country they now claimed as their own.

    Thanks for providing this place for feedback.

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