So, What Should I Call It?

I am finally in the home stretch of finishing the revisions of my Crater manuscript.  For a number of reasons the first chapter proved to be the most difficult to revise, but I finally have it where I am comfortable.  It should take me no more than 2 to 3 more weeks before I send the full manuscript back to the publisher.  One of the things that I am having quite a time with, however, is the title.  Since I am stumped I thought it might be helpful to ask my loyal readers for some assistance.  So, here is the deal.  If I use your title or a substantial portion of it you will receive a free copy of the book – assuming it is published at all. :D  Long time readers will be familiar with the subject of the book, but just in case here is the original proposal/outline.  It should give you some idea of what the book is about.  I have to say that it was painful to look at the time line that I sketched out in the proposal.  Oh well.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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20 thoughts on “So, What Should I Call It?

      1. Harry

        OK, how about:

        “The Thunder of the Hottest Fire of the War”: Race, Gender, Politics, History, Memory and a Little Shooting at the Battle of the Crater, 1864

        Reply
  1. Jonathan Mahaffey

    Oh, a free book — you do know how to properly bribe your readers! I assume the subtitle will probably be something like “Race and Memory at The Crater.” You could always do a pun on the Lost Cause and title the book “The Lost Color.” Or, to keep the puns coming, how about “Readjusting the Colored Line”?

    Reply
  2. Michael Lynch

    I’d go with something that will guarantee sales. “Harry Potter and the Memory of the Crater,” “The Twilight Saga: Crater,” “The Crater Code,” etc.

    All joking aside, how about “The Crater Remembered: Contested Legacies of a Civil War Battle”?

    –ML

    Reply
  3. Chris Meekins

    “Holed up in Virginia: Blasting Away at the Memory of a Solid South”

    Well, one thing is for sure: you should have a colon. It seems we all agree on that at least.

    Reply
  4. Tom

    Yes, it definitely needs a colon. I suggest something like “A Great Quote You Found: Race and Memory at the Crater.”

    If all you care about is sales, work Nazis, sex, and vampires into the title somehow.

    If none of that works, maybe there are a couple words from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that haven’t been used for a Civil War book title.When I was an English major, we got all of our titles from Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” and Macbeth’s final soliloquy.

    Reply
  5. James F. Epperson

    “The saddest affair I have witnessed in this war”—The Battle of the Crater and Civil War Memory. The quote is from Grant.

    Reply
  6. Ken Noe

    If my experiences are any guide, it’s 50-50 that your publisher’s marketing department will change your title anyway (ie, I’m three for six). Generally, they want something that clearly states the thesis in a nutshell, and that has key words that will make a bookstore browser pause. Which leads me back to a slight variation of your original title: The Battle of the Crater and Civil War Memory. It has those magic words “battle” and “Civil War.”

    Reply
  7. Brooks Simpson

    Sealing the Break: The Battle of the Crater Remembered

    After all, this is not about the battle, or the Union planning, or even much about northern memory. You are writing about a very specific set of perspectives, and your contribution comes from how white southerners remembered it..

    Reply
  8. Kevin Levin Post author

    Thanks to everyone who offered their suggestions here and in private emails. You’ve been quite helpful, but I assume that Ken is correct about the role of the marketing department. I have a pretty cool idea for the cover. On the front I want John Elder’s famous image of Mahone’s Charge and on the back Don Troiani’s recent depiction of the same moment. They provide the perfect contrast given the focus of the book.

    Reply
    1. Brooks Simpson

      Well, your book isn’t about how people remembered the Crater. It’s about how a specific subset of people remembered it. Reviewers will point that out if they think they are being misled. As for marketing, well, Ken has his experiences, and I’ve had mine, and on the two books where there was a dispute, I won out by making the argument for why the title should be the one I wanted.

      Now cover art, that’s a different matter, and there it seems you want to get your foot in the door early, because that’s a case where sometimes, when they go ahead on their own, the results are not quite what you might like.

      Reply
      1. Kevin Levin Post author

        Hi Brooks,

        Thanks for the advice. I’ve definitely expanded the manuscript a bit since the writing of that proposal. In the first chapter I’ve tried to include both the USCT and white Union perspective, though the largest chunk is still devoted to how Confederates perceived things. In later chapters I’ve added quite a bit on the black countermemory around the turn of the twentieth century. Overall, the manuscript is much more focused on the issue of race, which in my mind the most interesting aspect of the story.

        As I mentioned in a previous comment I have some ideas for cover art so I will make sure to voice my preferences as soon as possible. Thanks again.

        Reply

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