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Susan Lanigan
02-13-2007, 09:48 PM
Hello, apologies if this has been done before, but the last thread I found was a bit more jocular in tone and I'm serious :)

I am working on a short story collection, some of my stories are doing pretty well so I feel maybe I can win over the agent who has encouraged me to send them in.

The one thing that is driving me mad is a title. It seems that all the shory story collection titles that are well known have something about sex in them
Anne Enright - the portable virgin
Philip O'Ceallaigh - Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse
Fay Weldon - Wicked Women
but I can't figure out how to work that in, excuse the pun!

I'm trying to find a Uniting Theme for all my stories, apart from black, sick humour and a general feeling of disillusionment with Irish hypocrisy and hypocrisy in general. Oh and piano / choral music, which seems to work its way into all my stories!

I can't think of any standout title for the collection, apart from "Together Forever" (which is heavily ironic) but that's a bit bland.

I'd be interested in hearing how people overcome the title problem.

Thanks!

ChaosTitan
02-13-2007, 10:06 PM
I've never titled a short story collection of my own, but I have seen several collections that use the title of one of the stories.

aka eraser
02-13-2007, 10:18 PM
Most of the titles that writers come up with are only working titles anyway. Publishers like to reserve the right to choose the final one. If you already have an agent interested, a killer title won't further your cause at this point.

PeeDee
02-14-2007, 10:26 AM
When all else fails for titles, go flip through your CD case and look at song titles. You can always find something.

Unless, that is, you listen to pop and country. Otherwise, you'll wind up with sixty songs called "Untitled" a hundred and eleven thousand songs called "Breathe" and fifty billion songs called "I luv U"

And probably rule out rap albums, unless you want your short story collection "Smak dat biznatch UPP" to be on the top of the New York Times Bestseller List and your mother won't return your phone calls.

(my, this was a useful post...)

JeanneTGC
02-14-2007, 10:33 AM
Why not "Hypocrisy"?

limitedtimeauthor
02-14-2007, 10:47 AM
I agree that Together Forever might not work, since people will probably take it at face value, missing the irony and either pass it up as bland, or be disappointed by content that isn't what they expected.

(Hmm. What about Disappointed?)

I suggest some brainstorming. Try a twist on the original title, like: Together ForNever. (I probably thought of that because there's a movie out called Happily Never After. Clever.) But when you're brainstorming, let yourself write down even dumb ideas. That could jostle some good idea loose.

Like akaeraser alread said - don't fall in love with your title because you may have to change it.

ltd.

Old Hack
02-14-2007, 02:25 PM
I am working on a short story collection, some of my stories are doing pretty well so I feel maybe I can win over the agent who has encouraged me to send them in.

I hope I'm wrong here, but this bit worries me.

I've never known an agent be interested in trying to sell a collection of short stories, unless they came from a very well-established writer. It could be worth you doing a little investigation into this agent, to establish his or her credentials. Just in case. Post a query on the "Bewares and Background Checks" board, perhaps. Before you submit anything. Please.

Susan Lanigan
02-14-2007, 04:48 PM
Thanks all for your replies. The bit about the publishers and agents wanting to do their own titles cheered me up a bit as it takes the pressure off me a little!

Old Hack, thankfully this agent is very much legit, he is one of the most prominent ones in the country I live in and is namechecked by loads of authors, so I'm not too worried about that. He was the one I went to for advice about the other lot (who still haven't given me any money, surprise surprise!)

Not many of the stories I have are title-friendly titles but I will have another think. Thanks all.

johnzakour
02-14-2007, 07:58 PM
I've never known an agent be interested in trying to sell a collection of short stories, unless they came from a very well-established writer. It could be worth you doing a little investigation into this agent, to establish his or her credentials. Just in case. Post a query on the "Bewares and Background Checks" board, perhaps. Before you submit anything. Please.

I have to agree with Hack here, it's VERY unusal to see a collection of short stories from a new or unknown writer.

After my latest novel I asked Daw if they might be interested in doing a collection of short stories based around the characters in my novels, they said, "Nope, short story collections from single authors just don't sell enough."

Thinking back to my own buying habits after some 40 years of buying books the only single author short storie collection I ever bought was from the master PI story teller, Raymond Chandler.

So good luck to you if you can pull it off. I'll be jealous!

KCathy
02-15-2007, 01:21 AM
I was just reading Lerner's The Forest for the Trees and she says that she often helps her clients find titles by picking up a phrase from within the book itself. For example, a client was looking for a title for a memoir that often dealt with racial identity. At one point in the story he asks his mother what color God is, and her answer became the title of the book: The Color of Water. Even if you can't find anything that would fit, it might help stoke the brain a bit. Best of luck to you! I hate finding titles.

limitedtimeauthor
02-15-2007, 02:59 AM
KCathy! What a helpful tidbit of information!!! I love that: The Color of Water. I'm remembering this for the next book I write. :D If I ever finish the current WIP, that is.

Thank you!

(She deserves a rep point for that one, doesn't she?)

ltd.

PeeDee
02-15-2007, 03:02 AM
Thinking back to my own buying habits after some 40 years of buying books the only single author short storie collection I ever bought was from the master PI story teller, Raymond Chandler.


And unfortunately, I think this is fairly common, which is a pity and a tragedy. I buy volumes of short stories all the time, by single authors or anthologies. I love 'em. I happily read the "Best of Fantasy/Horror" every yaer, and the sci-fi volume, and when authors put out short stories, I gobble them up. Actually, recently they've been my preferred reading over regular novels.

Which, I realize, makes me the fluke in the statistic, but I still wish short story collections were more common, and accepted.