Having somewhere around four titled works, I often feel like a total newbie. Hell, I feel like a total newbie most of the time with the whole publishing thing. I was once told I could sell anything, and that would help me in life, yet for the life of me I can’t figure out why trying to “sell” my own novel is like getting splinters shoved under my fingernails.
Now that you have that image, let me get back to what I was talking about. We toil in the dark, writing our novels and minor opuses. We think we’re doing amazing things, powerful things, and maybe we are. But we’re just particles in a very large hourglass, sifting through one by one. Some fall on top, some are buried. Just how it goes.
Titles are important, though. They give particles a chance at making an impression. Sure, don’t judge a book by its cover; I say, judge a book by its title! I often joke about fantasy novels and the superfluous use of words like dragon, king, sword, and kingdom. So when I told my husband about Queen of None he laughed and said, “Weren’t you just railing against that?” I like a taste of my own irony every now and again. I never had to spend a lot of time with other books, because I usually just titled it after the main character (Peter of Windbourne) or concept (The Aldersgate, The Ward of the Rose). This time, Anna Pendragon just sounded wrong, so I went another route.
Sometimes a book title has to do with the subject matter, or a quote from a poem, or nothing at all. Sometimes the phrase is in the book itself. While I titled Queen of None earlier, while finishing up Chapter 14 this morning, I found it fit quite well within the text. Here it is:
I am a hollow drum, my skin drawn tight and hard against my bones, my breath like hot ash. I am emptied of life, of strength; a nothing of nothings, a queen of none.
I certainly hadn’t anticipated that, and I’m sure at some point someone will hate the title. I might be asked to change it, it may never see the light of day, etc. But for a moment there, I was really jazzing on a vibe.