IVP - Behind the Books - Max Lucado and Poetic Titles

May 22, 2007

Max Lucado and Poetic Titles

We've been working on Spring 2008 titles here at IVP. See Andy Unedited for more thoughts on titling.

When considering titles, authors often want to gather feedback from friends, relatives and spouses. As you might imagine, this feedback can be helpful or unhelpful depending on how well those asked understand the publishing industry or the function of a book title. Author Laura Barkat (whose upcoming book now has a final title: Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places) sought an opinion from her friend Mark Goodyear. He sent Laura some thoughts on titling that made my day.

Here's what I know about titles from my mentor, Max Lucado. He and I were talking about his editorial process and I asked about titles. He said, "I never choose my own titles. Or almost never."

Then he went on to explain that he always had some title or two that he grew very attached to. He knew the spiritual and literary significance of the phrase. He knew how the book built upon the theme established in the title. All of that writer stuff.

And he told me, often the marketing people would come back to him and say, "Well, that's a good poetic title. But that's not what we choose titles for. We choose titles to sell books. The title can be some beautiful elaborate poetic metaphor, but if no one picks up the book, it doesn't matter."

The title exists for one reason: To inspire people to pick up the book. Once they pick it up, then your prose can hook them. But if they don't pick it up. . . .

What Max Lucado is expressing here is exactly what we try to communicate to our authors. The title has to get the reader's attention. Of course, we love it if we can be poetic and entice the reader with the content. That's the goal.

Thanks to Mark Goodyear for allowing us to quote him. You can find Mark's blog at goodwordediting.com.

Posted by Cindy Bunch at May 22, 2007 11:33 AM Bookmark and Share


Hey, thanks for the link! Although I don't get to work with Max much anymore, he was so generous with me when I was a young writer in high school.

And of course, I just love Laura to death. But so does everyone.

Comment by: Mark Goodyear at May 23, 2007 1:21 PM

Okay, this is feeling more real by the minute. (Who gets more nervous in this process... authors or editors? Or is it a tie? That's something you could blog about sometime.)

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at May 23, 2007 9:19 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.