Several months ago, before Julia Child Rules was sent to the printer, the marketing department, my editor and I exchanged a flurry of emails about the title which is, and has always been, Julia Child Rules.
The marketing department didn’t much like it.
This happens all the time, authors and various arms of their publishing company locking horns over a book’s title. (The Great Gatsby holds the record for having dodged the terrible title bullet: Trimalchio in West Egg; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; and The High-Bouncing Lover were all under consideration before someone with a genuine knack for naming things but his foot down.)
Indeed, I’m a repeat offender: the original title of my novel Motherhood Made a Man Out of Me was Nipple Confusion, which allegedly gave the sales force at G.P. Putnam’s Sons a collective stroke. They claimed that no male sales rep would ever say the word nipple aloud during a sales call, ever ever EVER. The Stuff of Life was called Who Will Take the Tupperware?, but that was a no go because Tupperware is trademarked, and while it’s a good question, especially when considering what to do with the mounds of stuff a parent
hoards like a crazy person saves for a rainy day, it’s a terrible title.
But Julia Child Rules is a good title, and I knew it. The marketing department worried that the title was too unsophisticated. I pointed out that it was a three word triple entendre: Julia Child rules the culinary world (or did) like a monarch rules, and these are also her rules for living, and she totally dominates and is pure awesome sauce, as in Hot Band of the Moment RULES. There was radio silence for a few days, then came the suggestion that perhaps an apostrophe would solve the problem. Might we call it Julia Child’s Rules?
No, we might not.
Because these are not Julia’s rules, although many of them are based on her wisdom. They are my rules, hatched from my idiosyncratic examination of the way she lived her life. To call the book Julia Child’s Rules is misleading. By applying the kind of persistence Julia was known for, I eventually prevailed.
(And in any case, Julia Child’s Rules, with an ‘s’ at the end of both Child’s and Rules, is a mouthful. Say it five times in a row and you’ll wish you had a speech therapist on speed dial.)