And the title for Karen Bischer's first book is...
It's really hard not getting attached to stuff in the books you write—"kill your darlings" is a thing for a reason—but in the end, you usually DO understand that these cuts and changes are going to make your book better. That said, when you're told you have to kill one of the biggest darlings of all, your beloved, longtime title? It's a more challenging sort of, uh, editorial murder. Sometimes one that requires co-conspirators!
Home Ick had been my book's working title for literally years and to know it as something else was going to be a huge adjustment for me. But I understood why it needed to go, especially when learning that many kids don't even know the class as "home ec" these days, and the pun might fly right over their heads. Luckily, I knew from the first phone call last November with Kat, my editor, that the title was changing, so I was prepared, and started thinking of alternatives right off the bat. And as much as I loved Home Ick, I... actually enjoyed this process?! I took a copywriting class a few years ago and my favorite part was product naming, because you exercise a different, quippier part of your imagination, and this was very similar to that, with the added benefit of being more personal. So, in January, I sent a bunch of new title ideas, and in August, I sent a few more. There was a title in that last round that piqued the Swoon staff's interest, but they wanted more options.
That's when we opened up the naming process to the Swoon Community. I was super excited because I know crowdsourcing has worked out really well for other Swoon titles and they all received so many fantastic replies. (PS: Not only are Swoon readers motivational and supportive with great editorial sense, you are all supremely clever—those of us who post and publish here are so lucky to have this vastly talented resource behind us.). And this was no exception. There were SO many amusing suggestions (cut to me at my desk at work, restraining myself from clapping as I read over the ones that tickled me the most), and two of those—Half-Baked Heartbreak and The Secret Recipe to Ellie Agresti's Heart (Hi, Maggie Ann Martin and Elizabeth Anne Martins!)—made it to our Top 3, along with the title from my August batch of ideas.
I absolutely loved the punchy-ness and alliteration of Half-Baked Heartbreak, and since I'm a sucker for character names being in the title, The Secret Recipe to Ellie Agresti's Heart also delighted me. When I sat and thought about it, though, I was worried there wasn't quite enough baking in the book to support Half-Baked Heartbreak (while there are instances of baking in class, I didn't want to upset anyone expecting something more in line with The Great British Baking Show!). And while there's a definite love story in Ellie's life-after-Hunter arc (Helloooooo, Luke), I was concerned it wasn't a major enough plot line to hold up a title as romance-centered as The Secret Recipe to Ellie Agresti's Heart.
Most of all, the title needed to be something that captured the main thread of the story. Ellie has to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and figure out a path for herself that doesn't involve her boyfriend or his friends... while also suffering through domestic arts hell with them and her new misfit group, who become a surprising source of motivation.
And so, the new title is....
It turns out the title I marinated on for most of the summer, then sent out with a bunch of other "fingers crossed that one of these works" siblings, best captured the essence of what's happening in Ellie's world, and the Swoon staff felt the same way.
I'm totally psyched that now when people ask, "What's your book called?" I no longer have to be like, "Well, it's Home Ick right now, but the title is changing" and can proudly say, "It's The Secret Recipe for Moving On." It was the result of a "killing," and a pretty fun one at that.
Don't forget to add The Secret Recipe for Moving On to your Goodreads shelf!