Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hexe undergoes a name change

A book's title is a pretty important thing. That, and the cover art, is the first impression you get, and so it's imperative that the title catch your eye and your imagination.

And the sales team informed my editor and me that HEXE just wasn't accessible.

For one thing, no one knows how to pronounce it. It's the German word for witch, and it's pronounced "hex-uh." That wily E that sounds like an A is perplexing and some people were guessing it was pronounced "Hexy."

So, I do understand the need for a title change even while it initially dampened my spirits. But hey! It could be so much worse. The revisions I did with my editor were all embraced by me, and I never had to change the plot or the direction scenes went. I've heard from other writers who were deeply distressed at changes they had to make in their manuscript, so I feel incredibly lucky that the only change I ever balked at (and that only initially) was the title change.

We did some back-and-forthing on title suggestions over the period of two days. I picked my friends' brains and brainstormed possible titles with my agent and editor. One very fascinating tidbit of information that arose in a long, wonderful phone call with my editor: the word "devil" does better in nonfiction than "witch," but the reverse is true for fiction!

Eventually, I opened up the novel on my computer and began reading. Soon enough I was skimming because I feel like I know it now like the back of my hand and a few phrases did suggest themselves as titles... but when I got to the word trinity, I knew we had arrived.

The new title is The Witches' Trinity.

Caveat: It may get shot down in a later launch meeting, but I'm crossing my fingers it won't.

As many know, witches were reputed to mock Christianity, turning its traditions upside down and perverting them: thus, you have things like saying the mass backwards. In my novel, the witches do indeed parody the holy trinity and it in fact is part of a major plot point that I can't of course reveal. So, once the reader is finished and looks again at the title, it will resonate.

Moreover, the title Witches' Trinity is both assonant and consonant. People who have studied poetry terms (and those who took my classes at community college) will know what that means... or you can check the links! Thanks, Ira Sadoff and Peter Harris for teaching me something I still think about 15 years later.

Anyway, I'm excited about the new title and ultimately the sales team was right. It's awkward to always have to say how a title is pronounced. Hexe is dead; long live The Witches' Trinity!

1 comment:

Linda C. McCabe said...


I'm glad you changed the title as well. Not so much for the pronunciation problem, but for the ease of booksellers in finding your book. I could just imagine the misspellings of it if someone said, "hex - uh" and they typed in H-E-X-A.

Or "hex-ee" and they typed H-E-X-Y.

The new title sounds good and should not pose any of those problems.