Linda J. Alexander http://www.lindajalexander.net
I recently posted this to the Non-Fiction Writers Network & thought it might be a good conversation starter here. I'm interested in your thoughts on titles . . . movies, books, even songs. Do the titles make a difference as to whether you'll watch, read, listen? How much difference do titles make in the success of the overal project?
My biography on the life of Robert Taylor has been an evolution. I started years ago--in going thru all my research, I realized I began in 1993!--& it's had more than one title. It started as -- Love, Arlington: Robert Taylor Remembered. It sounded so romantic. "Love, Arlington" was how Taylor used to sign his letters; his real name was Spangler Arlington Brugh & he was called Arlington. A heckuva moniker, eh?!
That didn't click. No one knew who Arlington was. It didn't have an immediate draw. I then went w/-- Friendly Witness: Robert Taylor, Famous Friends, & Communism. That one had more oomph & gave specific points as to Taylor's point in history. He was a major player in the House UnAmerican Activities Committee mtgs, the "witch hunt" on communism in the movie world in 1947, generally considered a "friendly witness," & certainly had famous friends.
Once I was in the thick of it & finding new info daily, a historian in Nebraska, Taylor's home state, a gentleman who's become an invaluable friend in writing this book, suggested that "Hollywood" really needed to be in the title. After all, Bob Taylor was the Brad Pitt of his day.
Another title change -- Friendly Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood, & Communism. After all, if he was a big part of Hollywood, of course he had famous friends. That was a given.
And now that the book's finished & w/the publisher for post-writing editing, my Nebraska buddy came up w/another brainstorm. I dug up research showing that Taylor was NOT a "friendly" witness to the HUAC. He was subpoenaed & did his duty as an American which, considering his very conservative mindset, was nothing less than anyone would've expected of him. He wasn't happy that he had to be a part of what he called, in a letter he wrote to the committee, a "circus." People think Robert Taylor appeared in front of the HUAC not only willingly, but gleefully. Many believed he asked to be there.
So it was that when it started, the House committee saw Bob Taylor as a "reluctant" witness. Newspapers tagged him w/that title. So, I thought about this. I wrote to my publisher. Should we change the title? Will it make it more intriguing since anyone familiar w/this period in history would know Taylor as the original instead?
So, guess what? Yep, we're changing it again -- RELUCTANT WITNESS: ROBERT TAYLOR, HOLLYWOOD & COMMUNISM. I think this one will stick. The importance of a title should never be underplayed. It literally can make the sale.
Blessings -- Linda
www.lindajalexander.net ** www.authorsden.com/lindajalexander
HOLLYWOOD & POLITICS - http://hollywoodpolitics-network.ryze.com/
Bev Mahone's '07 Valentine's Contest Essay Top 5 Winner!
Private Reply to Linda J. Alexander http://www.lindajalexander.net (new win)