The Name Game – What On Earth Should I Title This Book?

This week the Debs are talking about titles and covers! How we came up with our book names and/or the process we went through with our publishers for our covers.

I love the name FEAST OF SORROW. Love love it. From the first moment I saw the title I knew that it was the right one for my book. But here’s the thing; I didn’t come up with it.

When I was young, I originally wanted to be a journalist. I loved deadlines, thinking on my feet, researching and gathering information. I could write fast, tell an engaging story and make the readers connect with the news. But the truth is, I suck at titles. I always have. I can write a 140 character tweet with no problem but a pithy title? No way. Even in my years doing public relations, writing hundreds of press releases, the title was always the hardest part for me. So when it came to coming up with a title for my own book? If you had asked me five years ago, this is what I would have said:


I really didn’t know. I worked on the book for five or six years with a terrible working title of First Gastronome. I had no clue what else to name it. Finally, at some point in 2012 when my book had been finished, my writing group stepped in to save my sorry ass. We agreed to do a brainstorming session at an upcoming meeting.

Before that meeting, my writing partner,  Anjali Mitter Duva, sent us all an email with a few ideas. She had sat down with the manuscript and pulled out a few lines of interest and also thought about the overall themes. My book is about the life of a tragic figure, and feasting is such a big part of the book, so when I saw FEAST OF SORROW on the list, I knew that was it (THANK YOU ANJALI!). The rest of the writing team loved it too, and it stuck. Whew, that was done. Or so I thought.

After Touchstone Books picked up FEAST, the name came up again. I knew from author friends that publishers will often change the name of the books they purchase, so I was steeling myself for them to choose something else. My editor at the time told me that she thought that it would need to change as it could be considered to describe a specific event in the book. So I was ready for it to go bye-bye, but not without a bit of sorrow. The title had really grown on me.

When the team decided to keep the name I was ecstatic. I knew it was a great name, and I was SO glad that they agreed.

For my second novel, about Bartolomeo Scappi, a Renaissance chef, the title is a bit of a no-brainer. Scappi was the cuoco segreto to several popes. The words cuoco segreto mean “secret chef” in the literal sense, but in reality only meant the private chef to the pope. However, in my book, there is a fifty-year love affair that the chef manages to hide from the entire world. So the title of SECRET CHEF is both simple and ultimately perfect. Now let’s just hope that when I sell that book that my publisher decides it’s as perfect as I think it is!



Author: Crystal King

Crystal King is a writer, culinary enthusiast and social media expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and an obsession with the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught writing, creativity and social media at Grub Street and several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University. Crystal received her masters in critical and creative thinking from University of Massachusetts Boston. She lives with her husband and their two cats in the Boston area.