Guest Post: Beth Kephart

What name should we give this book?
by Beth Kephart 

Those who know me know that I’m only intermittently good at devising titles.

Undercover was called Come Back to Me, for example, until Laura Geringer asked me to please think again on that one. Still Love in Strange Places was named by my son moments before the W.W. Norton catalog was going on press. Nothing but Ghosts was my title, thank you very much, though there was a slight (we ignored it!) problem—I’d used the word ghosts in a previous book title (Ghosts in the Garden). The Heart is Not a Size and House of Dance were titles of my making, and I proudly claim them.

But when it came to naming the book that became You Are My Only, I wasn’t just stuck; I was miserably stuck. The book had been, for a while, Nothing is the Color Gone—but come on, that’s just a tad convoluted and besides, hadn’t I used Nothing in a title before? (What is wrong with me—so many ghosts and so much nothing?) Then the book was happily Good People until I realized (d’uh) that that title had been used more than a few times before by others.

I’d been writing and revising like a maniac and the title issue finally needed to be resolved—now (by which I mean then). Since my son wasn’t home, I called in the troops—editor Laura Geringer, agent Amy Rennert, and Amy’s colleague, Robyn Russell.

I need a title, I said. I might have whimpered it. I might have yelled it. I was, as I have said, in a state of slight mania.

Here, for your pleasure (this is a pleasure, right?) are some of the titles that spilled forth in a week of tyrannical title chasing:

True True The Sky is Blue
The No Good
From Nothing to Big Things
Be Good. Be Gone.
The Book of Thoughts
Anything You Want
Nobody Knows From Crazy
Real Birds

But nothing was right. Nothing fit just so. Too grown-up. Too childish. Too familiar. Too obscure. At the end of it all, it was my agent and her colleague, Amy and Robyn, who sent a sane little email, very calm.

What about You Are My Only? they asked.

And that was it. Sold to the nearest, collapsing writer.

More about You Are My Only:
Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.
Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the “No Good.” One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever. . . .

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Guest Post: Beth Kephart — 8 Comments

  1. Thank you, so much! I am cross posting this right now. I hope you don’t mind the term “psychodelically hued.” It isn’t even a real term, but it speaks to me when I visit you here.

  2. You Are My Only seems like the best title of all of those on the list of possibilities. In fact, I think one of the reasons I was drawn to it before I read and reviewed it was probably because I liked the title. It’s funny that sometimes the things that some people stress over so much seem so effortless and flawless and perfect to others.

  3. You Are My Only seems to have been the title that it was meant to be. Those other titles don’t seem to fit the synopsis at all…but again I have not read the book…yet.

  4. Ooh, this book looks gooood. Definitely going to have to check this one out.

    I know what you mean about title hell. For my first novel, I think I had both the first *and* second drafts completed before I could even think up a list of potential titles. I’m a bit better now, but I hate saving my files as “Untitled Novel of Doom- Chapter 1.”


  5. Pingback: “You Are My Only” Treasure Hunt – caribousmom

  6. Pingback: Vivian Lee Mahoney » Archive » Beth Kephart, A Treasure Hunt, and You Are My Only

  7. This is a great post! I never thought how difficult choosing a name for a book could be for an author. You Are My Only is a fantastic choice and totally embodies the love a mom has for her child.

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