I always have a title in the back of my mind before I write anything, especially a book. It is actually how I start working on a book or a blog post. It is a starting point for me to start drafting and then properly write. I can't say that has always been the case but my computers are full of drafts and unfinished manuscripts. All have titles although it might not have an end or in some cases, even a beginning.
So far, I have published but one book, in two languages.
Let me tell the story how I decided on the title of my one book : 40 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Residential Property in Malaysia.
Quite a mouthful right? I know. But I did adjust it from a much longer title, if you can believe that.
My first title was : 100 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Property in Malaysia. This was the title I pitched to Azizi Ali when I went to see him. You can follow that story in the blogpost : How did I published my first book?. And that story has everything to do with the title of my book too.
When I pitched my idea to Azizi Ali, the title I presented to him was '100 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Property in Malaysia'. It was supposed to be the definitive book on property law which a person buying any type of property in Malaysia would need. If the buyer is a layman or even a lawyer, he or she will only need my book to refer when they buy either a house, a shop or a plot of land.
Azizi, as a book writer and publisher said to me : Why don't I make the title "101 Questions.... or 99 Questions...." which odd number can be a much 'nicer' number. I actually concur...
That was the initial plan. Then I started writing....
That was how I discovered writing is not an easy job. Trying to put two words together then a few more to make a coherent sentence is not easy. Turning legal words into layman term is not an easy task.
So, I cut the number down to 80 which makes the title into '80 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Property in Malaysia'.
Then I discovered that I will have too many questions to answer if I want tow write about every type of property. I decided to change my approach to narrow my topic down to residential property. The title became '80 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Residential Property in Malaysia'.
As writing becomes a labor due to work, I tried to find a reason to narrow it down further, which include cutting the number of questions from 80 to 70 to 60 to 50. It hovered between 60 and 50 for a longest while. I also tried to narrow it further from writing about all residential property to just those residential property sold by housing developer and as ridiculous as it sounds, the title did once became - [insert number] Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Residential Property from A Property Developer in Malaysia.
In the end, when I sent the first manuscript, I settled more or less on the current title which was '44 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying A Residential Property in Malaysia' and when the second draft was sent, it was finally settled between the publisher and me that the title will be -
40 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD
ASK YOUR LAWYER BEFORE
BUYING A RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY IN MALAYSIA