Wielding subtitles


"The Afterlife Dialogues" - now what sort of a subtitle was that? Lousy. I doubt it sold a single copy. Thinking of possible changes for the UK edition of I WAS CARLOS CASTANEDA I beamed in on the subtitle.

Then it struck me that I WAS CARLOS CASTANEDA is none too good a title either. Fine for the cognoscenti maybe, that fractional percentage of readers who know who Castaneda was, but that percentage is amazingly small.

So I'm playing the new title game. Today's favourite is SHAMAN WARS, since that is largely what the book is about. The next question is whether to stick the name Carlos Castaneda in the subtitle. It maybe makes sense - at least it makes sense in these days of internet book sites and search engines to have some word or phrase in the subtitle that potential readers might search for. The subtitle would be working for its living.

The UK subtitle of IN SEARCH OF THE DIVINE MOTHER changed from THE MYSTERY OF MOTHER MEERA to ENCOUNTERING MOTHER MEERA. I can't say I ever understood the logic of that. It was another title that led with a largely unknown person's name. I wanted a more generic Indian photo for that book too but the publishers insisted on the MM portrait - which booksellers then baulked at.

I used to wonder why books ever needed two titles, one for the US and one for the UK. Now I get to see one reason at least - it's a chance to improve, to go one step better.

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