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Q: Book titles- fiction ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Book titles- fiction
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: caro27-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 17 Nov 2003 18:15 PST
Expires: 17 Dec 2003 18:15 PST
Question ID: 276889
I am writing an article on book titles and how they affect a book's
chances of success.   Can you find me an example of a book where the
title was changed by the author/agent/publisher for some reason to
make it more appealing?  Are there many books that share their title
with another book? Are there key tips that publishers or agents have
about  successful words to use in a book title?
Subject: Re: Book titles- fiction
Answered By: journalist-ga on 17 Nov 2003 22:46 PST
Greetings Caro27:

I have found numerous references for you regarding a publisher
changing a title.  In my opinion, some of the changed titles are
catchier than the ones the author submitted but the most interesting
speculation I discovered on a title having to do with a bestseller was
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

"The first book in the Harry Potter series was published in Great
Britain under the title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The
American publisher changed the title to Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer's Stone."

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) was released under the
alternate title of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the

An interesting collection of messages on a public board at include the

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is known everywhere in the
world expect the USA as "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, so
every time any actor in the movie said the name of the stone it had to
be filmed once as "sorcerer's stone" and then again as "philosopher's
stone". - kyara
"Correction: I would like to correct you here, Kyara, firstly Harry
Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is mainly none to be that in America,
and is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone to the other parts in
the world, I should know that, it is called Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone in Europe, Australia (I am Aussie) ect ect, and
the only reason why it was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's
Stone in America is because Americans don't really know what a
philosopher is, and just think it as sorcerers. - Prisca"

"In America it's called "The Sorcerer's Stone" because the publishers
and the PR for the book knew nobody would be interested by a
"Philosopher's Stone", so when they changed the book title for
America, they had to also change the movie title so we wouldn't get
confused. It had nothing to do with Americans being stupid. - Chelsea"

"From what I can gather, the reasoning was mostly that things in the
books that might not make sense to American readers were changed for
understanding. Hence, the name of the book was changed to make sure
there was no misunderstanding of what the book was about, in essence
at least. - Antigone"

I recommend you read the entire exchange and also the one at another
message board at
- You may be able to make a speculative case for this runaway hit
being so beause of its "American title."

J. K. Rowling said "Arthur Levine, my American editor, and I decided
that words should be altered only where we felt they would be
incomprehensible, even in context, to an American reader... The title
change was Arthur's idea initially, because he felt that the British
title gave a misleading idea of the subject matter. In England, we
discussed several alternative titles and Sorcerer's Stone was my


I also discovered this blurb at :
"I rationalized that after all, Carson McCullers had at the suggestion
of the same publisher changed the title of her first novel from The
Mutes to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter."



"'Shaman Pass' a worthy follow-up 
Anchorage author's new book is the second in series featuring I˝upiaq
Alaska State Trooper Nathan Active"
"Jones brought in chapters of his book, then called "The Jade Ax"
before his publisher changed the title."

Title: Wicca Love Spells 
Author: Gerina Dunwich
Publisher: Citadel Press (Kensington)
"Author's Notes: This book actually was first published in 1992 and
originally called, "The Secrets of Love Magick." The publisher changed
the title to "Wicca Love Spells" in 1996. I did not feel that the new
title was appropriate for this book; however, I did like the new cover
art much better than the previous one."

"The Complete Trees of North America, first edition, by Dr. Thomas S.
Elias was published in 1980. A revised edition of this popular account
of all native and over 100 introduced species of trees was published
in 1989. At that time, for some unexplained reason, the publisher
changed the title to Field Guide to North American Trees. Soon after
the revised edition was published, the rights to this and many other
titles were sold by Grolier Book Clubs, Inc. to Meredith Press.
Unfortunately, notice of the title change was never publicized, and
when orders were placed for the book under the name of the first
edition, people were told that it was out of print. This is not true,
and there is an ample supply of the revised edition available for
sale! The title of the revised edition is Field Guide to North
American Trees."

"Aris Press printed Wild About Mushrooms, The Mycological Society of
San Francisco Cookbook in 1987. Then, around 1991, Aris Press was sold
to Addison-Wesley and the new publisher changed the title of the book
to: Wild About Mushrooms, A Cookbook for Feasters and Foragers."

"Passion of the Wolf was the original title for Once a Wolf, the
second in my first historical werewolf trilogy. The publisher changed
the title at the last minute."

"This book was originally announced with the title: 
Expert Resumes for Computer Occupations 
The publisher changed the title to the one that appears below.
Expert Resumes for Computer and Web Jobs"

"As per the author, "The original title for this book was "Collecting
Machine Made Marbles: Industry Revolution." Of course, the publisher
changed the title."

Don't Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training
"Pryor notes that she originally thought of naming this book "Positive
Reinforcement". Her publisher changed the title to an obscure, playful
reference in the book, because they thought it would be more catchy."

"The book title is extremely important. When I first submitted "Hell's
Best Kept Secret" as a title to the publisher, they said it was too
heavy. They suggested "Watering Down the Gospel." I so disliked the
weakness of their suggestion, I submitted another 74 titles as
alternatives. They eventually changed their minds and chose "Hell's
Best Kept Secret", and said, "You guys must have been praying." So
diligently pray about your title."


Regarding shared titles:

"How Birds Fly
(Same title -- different book).
By using dazzling high-speed photos and easy-to-understand text the
mysteries of bird flight are revealed. More than 60 photographs,
including 16 in full-color, shows the basic principles of flapping

"'The Druids' T.D. Kendrick 
"'The Druids' S. Piggott (same title, different book!)"

Observing the Moon (Practical Astronomy) by Authors: Peter Wlasuk 
"The first list review is for a different book. Same title, different
author (Gerald North)."

"Same title - different book. This is an account of a reporter living
in war-time Bosnia. It is not about the USS Indianapolis sinking and
having sailors being attacked by sharks."
Random Amazon search for In Harm's Way

Coaching Youth Football
"There are two other books with the same title as this book, but
neither is written by me. One is apparently written by a committee (no
author is named) called the American Sport Education Program. That
book used to be titled Rookie Coaches Football Guide. Then they
changed its name to Coaching Youth Football."

"Why do e-books need ISBNs?
ISBN's are key to bookstore and library ordering and distinguish
between authors with the same name and books with the same titles.
ISBNs also distinguish between the various e-book formats. e-books and
print books need ISBNs to be listed with a distributor or be available
from bookstores."


Regarding successful words to use in a title from publishers or
agents, American Book Publishing offered an article titled "Book
Titles and Headlines" by David White at that reads in
part "The one thing about a book title or an article headline is that
you have very few words to do a lot of things: You want to grab the
reader's attention, you want to hold that reader's attention, and you
want to tell the reader what the book or the article is about. It is
the rare title or headline that can do all three. Most of the time,
you have to settle for two out of three."

I believe you will find the article of interest.

An article by David taylor at titled "Magic
Titles: 27 Secrets Guaranteed to Make Your Headlines Sell" reviews a
clinical approach to writing titles that grab attention.

There are a lot of author suggestions out there such as choosing
titles similar to what is already in a publisher's catalog or choosing
buzzwords for the hot topic of the day.  But these were writer-based
suggestions and included a couple of book on how to publish a book.

Title guidelines are offered at


Totally unrelated, I found a fascinating site while researching your
question.  As a writer, I feel you will appreciate the webmaster's
"The Invisible Library is a collection of books that only appear in
other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary
books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica,
and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound."


Should you require any clarification of the links or information I
have provided, please request it before closing and rating this
question and I will be happy to respond.  These have been very
interesting questions to research!

Best regards and good wishes for the success of your book,


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