Concept and Title Selection

by Laurie Ann Burton

Developing the cookbook was a two year process, the second year was all the collecting and testing, but the first year was brainstorming, researching and planning.  One of the things we spent the most time on was brainstorming for a title.  Choosing the right title for our new cookbook (as it was called for 18 months) was of monumental importance.  How do you come up with a catchy title that relays your theme in just a few words? How do you select a title that can stand up to the great titles of our collection, but still stand on its own?  How do you select a title that is as fabulous as “The Life of the Party”?

Right from the start, we were very clear on the concept of our new book – coastal.  We wanted a book that had a beach cover shot, used shades of blue as the inside wallpaper and used an icon that was coastal/beach related.  Further we wanted recipes and menus reflective of our area including local ingredients, preparations or usages.  Now we needed a title that would headline all of these features.

For inspiration, we reviewed lifestyle magazines, looked at other cookbooks – Junior League and non-Junior League, studied past titles and made a long, long list of ideas.  We talked with FRP (the printer of the Culinary Collection) and their feedback was not so much what to consider, as much as what to avoid.  Their advice was to avoid “From ___ to ___”.  This title device had been overused in recent years, examples being. From Seaboard to Sideboard, Marshes to Mansions, etc. Also we were encouraged to avoid cutesy plays on food words such as Always enough Thyme, Thyme to Celebrate, etc. We met with past chairs and were encouraged to avoid static titles and make sure we had action verbs.  Action verbs…hmmm, that had never occurred to me.  We considered rhyming titles (Season with Sunshine), repeats of our own titles (Another Taste of Tampa or Coastal Treasures).  We dreamt up ideas that would then resonate throughout the book – title it Water Tables and then have every photo be a table set by the water. We thought of ideas that reflected the food and year-round growing season like Endless Summer. The list went on and on – hundreds of ideas that circled around words like coast, beach, bay, tides, summer, gulf, sunshine, shoreline, and water, just to name a few.  It was a never ending loop in my head that I couldn’t turn off and after thinking about it all day, I had to keep a pad of paper by my bed because I would think all night. Ideas were circulated amongst anyone that would give feedback, committee members, past chairs, current Executive Committee members, neighbors, friends, family. My greatest memory of searching for a title is sending my Assistant Chair and sounding board, Ashley Carl, email after email of title ideas – generally one at the time as they popped in my head and her equally terse responses, always “no.”  I always laughed and knew we would have the final title if she ever said “yes.”  This round robin of emails went on for months!  And one day, the answer came back “yes.” And I knew we had it.  The title was then circulated around to everyone that had been giving feedback and the vote was a unanimous winner.  So, we took our top 5 choices, including our new favorite, and surveyed the membership looking for their feedback and additional title ideas, and based on those responses, our title was born.


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