It’s only two weeks until my debut novel is launched, and the PR is ramping up.

At the beginning of this month I finally revealed the book’s cover and title:

The reaction, particularly to the title, was unanimously enthusiastic, with many people saying they were intrigued, hooked already, and that they could not wait to order the book.

It could have been very different.

The title of my novel, The Library of Unfinished Business, was my second choice.

I originally called my book Without a Drop Being Spilt – and I don’t think it’s a giveaway to say it was taken from a quote on page 273:

Love pours life into death and death into life without a drop being spilt

– Author Unknown

I loved it. It was poetic. It was enigmatic. It was intriguing.

It was wrong.

Many months ago I told my wonderful PR guru, Karen, the working title. We were talking on the phone, and I made the announcement with a flourish.

*Crickets*

“Or,” I said, sensing all was not going to plan, there is this one …” and I told her the other option.

“That’s it!” she practically yelled. “That one. That.”

And you know what? Deep down, I knew it.

You see, the first title was lovely in an obscure, personally gratifying, related-to-the-book-but-only-in-the-very-final-pages-and-until-then-it-will-mean-nothing way, but was it going to get readers excited and curious? Was it going to spark conversation? Was it – most crucially – going to help the book sell?

Not so much.

On the other hand, The Library of Unfinished Business seemed to strike a chord. We all know what unfinished business is. We all have it. And libraries will always appeal to readers. The hint of mystery, the whiff of books, a universal human experience: put the three together and a bit of magic happened.  

Fellow writers: Titles matter. Be brave enough to kill your darlings, set aside your personal attachments if that’s what very wise PR people (and others) tell you, and remember that by the time you’ve written the book and you’re on your way to publishing, you do need to think of marketing as much as artistic integrity.

It’s not sacrificing your soul. It’s digging deeper to find what, ultimately, is going to satisfy your soul even more.

For me, that’s a title that not only makes me shiver with glee when I hear it said out aloud, but that will also, hopefully, mean that my book screams out to be picked up and bought.

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