Yes, I Do Know What My Book Title Means
This topic came up at dinner with friends this past weekend. My friend, Ron, is an energetic, passionate guy. He’s a declared non-reader. A declared non-reader who devoured my book on his week vacation in Mexico.
“I’ll admit if Jodie (his wife) hadn’t said you wrote it, I probably wouldn’t have read it.” He confessed. “I was curious about the Esau in the title. Huh, Esau? I thought. I found the quote from Genesis and thought hmm. Then I read this part,” he points to the prologue. “And BAM, I couldn’t put it down.”
Ron is a realtor with a great marketing pitch. He’s an inventor determined to break into the market. Figuring out how to punch up my book sales took up a good deal of the conversation. There were several bottles of wine involved, but that’s neither here nor there.
“Believe me, Ron.” The Beard piped in. “We’re looking at all of the angles. It simply takes time.”
Jodie smiled at her husband. “Ron likes instant results.”
“You’ve got a hit here.” Ron waved my book around. “This is a gold mine just waiting to be tapped.” He paused a minute. “You could just change the very beginning to Ebola. If you could make the story as a result of Ebola, it’d be huge!”
In fairness to Ron, the idea of changing the book isn’t a new one. Many agents enjoyed the book with one caveat. Could I just switch this? Then it could go on this shelf. Would you just change that? Then I can sell it to blah de blah. Talking traditional publishing means marketability.
The direction of the conversation shifted to the title.
“Do you know what Esau is?” Ron demanded with a familiar gleam in his eye.
The twinkle is familiar because I see it in people I speak with regularly. It’s the look of the biblically knowledgeable who believe, for whatever reason, I couldn’t possibly know what the title of my book references. It doesn’t matter the hundreds of hours of research, planning, or writing I’ve performed to complete the book.
I give him the same answer I’ve offered over twenty times. “Yes Ron, I know what Esau references. It’s relative to the events in the book because….” The rest of the conversation contained spoilers since we’ve all read the book.
“Whew, I’m going to read it again. That’s how much I enjoyed the book!” He exclaimed.
I don’t think I influenced his decision to read the book again with the defense of my title choice, but I know I’ve convinced readers to buy the book with it. The constant need to defend the title surprised me. As a reader, a teacher and a writer, I understand titles of books are typically metaphors significant to the story. Movies, sometimes not so much.
I don’t know about all writers, but I guess it’s a similar process. I wrote the book with the working title. Even the working title shifted throughout the lifespan of the book. Once the book was done, I didn’t realize the difficulty in store. What do we call the bloody thing?
Walking you through the process might be bothersome, so if you’d like to start skimming, go for it. The working title was Genesis. After that, I can’t remember what I thought about calling it. I do know a quick Google search proved it already taken by an end of the world, prophet following church. I know there are several books out there sharing a title. One of my favorite novels, The Cloud Atlas, shares its name. For the record, I like the novel by Liam Callanan. I haven’t read the David Mitchell novel.
Both the Beard and I dismissed the idea of sharing the name. Back to the drawing board, or in this case the legal pad. Thoughts about themes, characterizations, and plot elements swirled. Keep it simple, too boring. Metaphors needed to be transparent. I liked the idea of biblical references. After all, the plot involves genetic engineering. We generated columns of combination words. The Beard wanted an overarching link.
Several book title choices went out over the interweb for opinions. The top three were Googled again and voila! The Esau Continuum’s first book, The Esau Emergence became manifest. Figuring out the next two titles caused equal fits. So yes, I do know to what the Esau in the title refers, and I’m happy to discuss it after you’ve read the book.
Feel free to ask in any case, I love lively conversations.