When I was writing DIE FOR ME, my brain was on constant alert for a phrase or a word that would make a good title. I had labeled the Word document “Undead” as a temporary measure, but was constantly checking Amazon with ideas for titles, and just as constantly throwing the idea into my mind’s wastebasket because…IT HAD ALREADY BEEN TAKEN.
Finally I realized that—unless I named my book with a made-up word like SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS (taken), or with a complex multi-word phrase like THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW (also taken)—EVERYTHING had already been used at least once.
And finally I came up with a title. SLEEPWALKING. It hadn’t been used for years. And it described Kate’s frame of mind after her parents’ death, and then again when she realized what kind of paranormal world she had just unwittingly stepped into when she fell for Vincent. It seemed perfect.
So I was shocked when—once the book was bought—no one liked it. I got the feeling they thought it wasn’t dynamic enough. And—although nobody actually said it—I think they felt SLEEPWALKING held the subliminal suggestion: This book will put you to sleep. And suggesting that a book is going to make you nod off and then wander around and perhaps even hurt yourself…well that’s not the best literary commendation a title could give.
So the search for another title began. I enlisted a number of friends to help, and suggested several of our top picks to my editor. All were turned down. Finally I gave her this list:
Penumbra; The Risen; My Former Life; Breathless; Wingless; Dark Halo; Death Does Us Part; Truly Madly Deadly; A Darker Shade of White; A Deathly Kind of Love; Afterdeath; Alive Again; Angelheart; Angels of Death; City of Nights; City of Dreams; Dead Again; Dear Departed; Death and the Maiden; Deliver Me; Deliver Me From Death; Earthangel. Eternal Night. Everland; Everwaking; Everdeath; Evermore; Everafter; Forever Dying; Forever Yours; Guardians of the Living; Guardians of the Night; If I Should Wake After I Die; Immortal Love; Immortal Night; Immortally Yours; Inamoratas; In My Dreams; Kiss of Death; Kissing Death; My Heart, Mortality, And Other Jokes; Obsession; Paramour; Return to Me; Revenant; Shadow of Death; Shadowheart; Shadowland; Awakening; The Death of Each Day’s Life (from Shakespeare’s Macbeth); The Guardians; The Rising; The Watchers; Under A Paris Moon; Undying.
Guess what. Nuh uh.
And then my editor came back to me with two suggestions: DIE FOR ME and TO DIE FOR. She asked what I thought. I said I liked SLEEPWALKING. I’m glad I was an ocean away from New York City, or I’m sure I would have been able to hear much groaning and ripping out of hair up on Madison Avenue.
I’m not quite sure what the internal procedure is at HarperCollins, but Tara asked “the powers that be” and everyone agreed that DIE FOR ME was the very best title. And you know what? After about three or four days of letting it sink into my psyche…I agreed. And now I can’t imagine the book with any other title.
According to my ancient email file, the title decision for Book 1 was taken the first week of May, 2010. And here we are, almost one year later, and Book 2 has just received its own title.
My editor has been asking me for title ideas for months. And until two months ago, I had no clue. Until I wrote a certain line in the book and thought…Hmm. Then I did my 4-mile jog—the one I tend to do my problem-solving thinking on—and almost sprinted back to my house near the end because I was so sure it was a good title idea.
But since I hadn’t yet sent the new manuscript to my editor, she didn’t jump at it right away. And then, just a couple of weeks ago, she read that section and wrote me right away. “How about (insert new title)?” she asked, not immediately remembering that I had suggested it.
That’s got to be it, I thought. If both of us came up with the title individually, it was meant to be. And just over a week later, and an official “okay” from HarperCollins, I am overjoyed to announce the title of Book 2:
UNTIL I DIE
*Amy swoons, and then gets back up and keeps typing*
It’s perfect. Trust me.