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June 2 2016

It's all in a name...

At a recent event someone asked how I come up with the titles of my books, and it set me thinking that of five novels, only two had their names from the off. The original title for One Moment, One Morning was 07:47 – the time of the train. And my new novel, Another Night, Another Day went through several guises as I wrote – at one point it was Just The Three of Us, then it became The Eleventh Hour, and when I submitted the manuscript, it was And Then It Rained.

In both cases my editor asked me to reconsider the titles – 07:47 was ‘too hard’, she suggested, and ‘not emotive enough’. It also, I can see now, sounded as if I was writing about a plane, not a train. I wonder if the book would have appealed to readers as much if we’d not changed it? I doubt it, as not only does 07:47 sound like a completely different book – a thriller perhaps - but it wouldn’t have lent itself to the teacups image that lured people to pick it up.

A bit of One Moment mixed with Barbara Dickson

Conversely, I liked And Then It Rained as it seemed to suggest tears and sorrow, but some of my attachment was probably nostalgia. The title came from a New Wave band my brother played in three decades ago and arguably sits better alongside Teardrop Explodes and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark than One Moment, One Morning and The Two Week Wait, to which the novel is a loose sequel.

‘So how did you come up with Another Night, Another Day?’ the guest at the event prompted, so I explained the process.

 * When I submitted my first draft of the novel, Francesca Main, my editor at Picador, asked me to reconsider the title of the book, explaining she didn’t feel it linked well enough with its predecessors, a point I had to concede.

 * We came up with a list of several alternatives, of which Tomorrow is Another Day - brazenly ‘borrowed’ from Gone with The Wind - proved popular. The Picador team liked the Another Day element, but I felt that on its own this wasn't strong enough and was too reminiscent of One Day by David Nicholls. ‘But the idea of repeating words like Another Suitcase In Another Hall might work,’ I said (again my musical tastes betraying my age). ‘Then that would tie in with One Moment, One Morning…’

 * The solution, as is often the way, came to me at 3am, and I jumped out of bed and wrote it down. The next day I emailed Another Night, Another Day to Francesca, and she agreed it worked. The title suggests journeying out of the darkness and into the light which reflects the theme of the novel. A further bonus was it meant we could use one of the images we’d liked for And Then It Rained – an image of an umbrella – although we added sunshine into the original shot to ensure it didn’t look too gloomy.

One final consideration is that a title should look nice. This might sound facile, but if you consider a cover design is about words and pictures working together, the overall shape of the letters is part of what makes a book attractive. To go back to 07:47 for a second, it's all straight lines and with only four numerals there's not very much of it, whereas One Moment, One Morning gives a typesetter a lot more to play with. I'm not saying it's perfect - I read reviews calling it One Moment, One Day and all sorts, so it's clearly not that memorable, but it's an awful lot better than the original.

 Another Night Another Day in the rain


Another Night, Another Day is available in Waterstones.

You can buy it for £5.99 here, with free P&P if you live in the UK.

If you're interested in reading more of Sarah's blogs, she also writes for Psychology Today, and you can find her articles here.


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