Title Trouble

By Carol Hinz
Editorial Director, Millbrook Press

Some books have great titles from the moment the author submits them. Other books don’t start with quite the right title, but we easily find one we all love. And then there are the problem children.

Perhaps that’s overstating it, but some books are particularly hard to title. Typically, the text editor and/or editorial director, marketing department, and author are involved in discussions about what a book’s title should be. As I’m brainstorming titles, I try to write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how bad it seems. Sometimes a bad idea will spark a good one.11434Coming up with the final title for the new fall book Before They Were Famous: How Seven Artists Got Their Start by Bob Raczka was particularly challenging. It was first known as A Kid Did That. However, that title doesn’t tell you that the book is about artists. For a long time, we were calling it When Artists Were Kids: The Early Works of Famous Creators. However, there was a concern that using “kids” in the title might limit the book’s appeal to a younger audience. We talked very briefly about calling the book When Artists Were Young, but we thought we could do better than that.

My favorite title that no one else liked for the book was StARTing Young. Get it?

Here are some of the other titles from my brainstorming list:
Early Genius
Young Brilliance
A Genius Is Born (trying to riff on A Star Is Born)
Kidding Around
Just Kidding
Artful Youth
Artful Children and Teens
So You Think You Can Paint?

In the end, I’m quite satisfied with the title we do have. And in case all this title talk has made you wonder what the book is about, here’s how we describe it on the jacket flap:

When famous artists were kids, did they paint like artists? Or did they paint like kids? Find out for yourself in the pages of this book by art lover Bob Raczka.

You’ll see some of the first works ever done by seven well-known artists. You’ll also learn plenty of fascinating facts about the artists’ childhoods. You’ll even see some of their later works, which show how their styles changed over time.

Albrecht Durer, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Artemisia Gentileschi, John Singer Sargent, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali all grew up to have their own unique styles. But when they were kids, they all had one thing in common: they loved to make art.