When the title of a work is chosen by the publisher or someone else who is not the author
, and the author may not even like
the title. See also Market-Based Title
- The title of V for Vendetta supposedly came down from the publishers, and gave Moore and Lloyd a new impetus in crafting the graphic novel.
- Archie Goodwin, a higher-up at DC Comics, came up with the title The Long Halloween for the classic Batman miniseries.
- The title of Field of Dreams was changed from the original book's title "Shoeless Joe". Ironically, as director Phillip Alden Robinson found out, "Shoeless Joe" in itself was the publisher's title for Bill Kinsella's novel. His title: "Dream Field."
- The title of October Sky was chosen by a producer who came up with it by making anagrams of the book's original title "Rocket Boys". Homer Hickam doesn't seem to have minded too much, as he let the book be marketed as "October Sky" after the film was released.
- When filming the 1986 version of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon, Michael Mann changed the title to Manhunter. His reason was that because the original title might lead potential audiences to think this was a Kung Fu Movie.
- The names of the volumes of The Lord of the Rings were not chosen by Tolkien. Tolkien never even wanted it to be a trilogy. It was originally envisioned as a six book series. Supposedly the book was broken up into three volumes because in the early 1950s, Britain had not sufficiently recovered from World War II paper rationing to publish the whole thing at once. Thus LOTR being the Trope Maker for the whole modern idea of a "trilogy" is entirely accidental.
- That is why which Two Towers are referred to (Orthanc, Barad-dûr, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul, Minas Tirith - pick two) is never specified by Tolkien himself. He also rejected the name Return of the King because it... kinda spoiled the aforementioned fact, preferring War of the Ring instead.
- Subverted in the Icelandic translation Hilmir snýr heim, which does indeed mean King comes home but in such an antiquated fashion that most first time readers don't make the connection.
- Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. Not a name he picked or wanted, since it belonged to a short story not written by him.
- Many of Asimov's Black Widowers stories got their titles changed on their initial magazine publication. His compilations generally change them back — with the occasional Ascended Fanon.
- His own opinion for 'worst publisher title change' though is the short story 'Strikebreaker'. Originally published with the publisher-chosen title of 'Male Strikebreaker'. (Swapping random character's genders would in no way affect the story.)
- Donald Wollheim of Ace Books was notorious for changing titles he didn't think were "science fictional" enough, usually into something really pulpy and juvenile. A joke usually attributed to Terry Carr was that if Ace under Wollheim were ever to put out a copy of the Bible, it would be a double-sided cover called "War God of Israel" note and "The Thing with Three Souls."
- Horace Gold of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine thought that most of Cordwainer Smith's original titles were bland. His solution was to take new titles from the text, e.g. "Think Blue, Count Two". The technique worked very well, and Smith didn't change any of the titles back.
- Actually, this was Fred Pohl, as stated in his introduction to "The Instrumentality of Mankind" (having just looked it up)
- And then, of course, there's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a Cultural Translation for the American market - it has the original name, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in most of the rest of the world. Supposedly the idea was more "American children would be scared off by the term 'philosophy'" than "Americans wouldn't understand what the title meant." However, it's not like Rowling expected children to get the alchemical reference, as it's clearly spelled out in the text.
- David Eddings wasn't thrilled with his publisher putting a Chess Motif in the titles of the Belgariad. If he'd had his way, the last book would have gotten the title In the Tomb of the One-Eyed King instead of Enchanter's Endgame.
- When C. J. Cherryh's publisher asked her for the title of the third book in her Chanur Saga, she jokingly replied "The Kif Strike Back". The publisher took her seriously, and the title stuck.
- Philip K. Dick is an odd case; for the most part, the titles of his stories remained untouched, but the names were often changed when they were adapted; for example, the short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" became the film Total Recall, while "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" became Blade Runner. He admitted, though, that even he didn't think the original titles were very good.
- The first Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson was called The Tomb by the publisher who wanted people to think it was a sequel to his earlier horror book, The Keep. No actual tomb appears in the story. (Ironically, Wilson later decided to retrospectively link the two books as sharing a continuity.)
- Stephen King's The Shining should have been The Shine, but the publisher told him that "shine" was also a slang term for a Negro ("shoe shine boy"), and that, since a moderately important secondary character in the book was an African American, it could have had some Unfortunate Implications.
- Stephenie Meyer's original name for Twilight was Forks. Her agent made her change it, and most people would probably agree with her that Forks is not a great name for a paranormal romance.
- The sixth book in the Warrior Cats subseries Power of Three was originally going to be called Cruel Season, but the publishers thought it was too depressing and changed it to Sunrise. They never seem to complain about the actual content of any of the books, though...
- Animorphs titles were all publisher chosen.
- The Dark Eye was supposed to be called Aventuria, after the world it is set in. The publisher Schmidt Spiele changed the title to The Dark Eye and Palanthir like artifacts were quickly added to account for the title.
- Peanuts was named by the syndicate. Charles M. Schulz hated the name.
- Given that his choice was "Li'l Folks", the Syndicate clearly did him a favor, even if he didn't appreciate it.
- "Peanuts" is a Word Salad Title (despite being only one word). Someone at the syndicate was under the impression that it was another word for "kids", because of the term "peanut gallery".
- The Far Side was descended from a similarly warped gag comic called Nature's Way. Gary Larson didn't mind the change at all - "They could have called it Revenge of the Zucchini People for all I cared".
- Newspaper publisher Joseph Patterson was famous for his "hands-on" management of comic strips, including choosing the titles such as Dick Tracy and Terry and the Pirates. One story is that Milton Caniff was a bit baffled when Patterson chose this latter for the title of his new comic strip, because initially he hadn't planned to include any character named "Terry", and also hadn't planned to include any pirates.
- Russian classical music example: In the beginning of the 19th century, composer Mikhail Glinka wrote his famous opera "Ivan Susanin", about the eponymous Russian hero who sacrificed his life to save Russia from Polish invasion. But censors forced Glinka to change the opera's name to "Life for the Tsar". In the Soviet times, the originally intended name was restored.
- The albums Paranoid and Vol 4 by Black Sabbath were originally called War Pigs and Snowblind respectively. The record company changed the name of both before releasing them, the first to avoid offending people involved in the Vietnam War and to capitalise on the single's popularity, and the second because of the drug reference.
- Megadeth's The System Has Failed was intended as a Dave Mustaine solo album but the label put the name Megadeth on there instead of his name because they thought it would sell more copies. They were right.
- Singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton faced this with her debut single. She wanted to name the song "Interlude," as it had appeared on her demo tape. However, the president of her record label at the time, who also produced the song, refused to release it under that name due to its Non-Appearing Title. His nephew suggested a new title: "A Thousand Miles." The result? A #1 hit on the pop and adult contemporary charts, a platinum-certified debut album, and the single becoming of the biggest radio hits of the 2000's.
- This is general practice in news magazines. The writer writes the text, but has absolutely no control over the article's actual title, or the pictures that accompany it and their placement, which are all decided by the editor. This leads to the occasional instance where an editor who is Completely Missing the Point gives an article a misleading, inappropriate title or images which completely undermine the actual writing. Cracked is often guilty of this, and nearly every article that does this will have it pointed out.
- Ayn Rand titled her first play Penthouse Legend, but producers first renamed it Woman on Trial and then Night of January 16th.