I’ve always thought that naming a child is one of life’s most difficult tasks. You want to be sure to pick something that works when the kid is little and cute, but it must also be appropriate in adulthood. (Let’s face it: as adorable as it might seem when she’s three, Paislee is not a credible name for a corporate CEO.) But naming a child does not begin to compare to the task of naming a book.
As the author, you need to feel really good about the book title, but so does everyone else. It has to jump off the cover and grab the prospective reader by the throat, lest you never sell a single copy. Like a child’s name, it must endure if there’s any hope of keeping it in the limelight (and on bookshelves) for more than a couple of weeks.
When Jan and I first decided to collaborate on writing a book, we settled on the title Don’t Stop Now: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life. Over time, the headline and subhead on the website we created to support the book read:
Intimate. Irreverent. Truth.
Making life fuller, richer, better after 50.
Our marketing consultant pointed out that the subhead on the site was competing with the subtitle of the book, and she liked the line on the site better. So we decided to change the book title to:
Don’t Stop Now: Making Life Fuller, Richer, Better after 50
And then I thought we might try:
Don’t Stop Now: Your Guide to a Fuller, Richer, Better Life after 50
And then Jan came up with the title:
Don’t Stop Now: The Intimate, Irreverent Truth about Life after 50
And then we ran it by our Facebook followers, and most of them really liked “intimate” and “irreverent.”
And then one smart cookie legitimately questioned our use of the word “truth,” and it was at that point that Jan and I sputtered and deflated like a couple of old helium balloons.
After mentally regrouping and consuming a couple of glasses of wine, we gleefully arrived at:
Don’t Stop Now: The Intimate, Irreverent Guide to Life after 50
So that’s it. That’s the final title of the book. We’re not changing it again.