Should I change my WiP title?

I love the title of my novel-in-progress, Tangled. To me, it represents the messy, interwoven lives of my two main characters and has an edginess that suits the Young Adult / New Adult market. So why am I considering changing it? Because of bloody Walt Disney.

Disney Tangled poster

Thanks, Walt!

This wonderful animated movie earned Disney a worldwide total of about $590 million at the box office and, according to the font of all knowledge, Tangled is Disney’s second highest-grossing film, beaten only by The Lion King. Great for Disney, not so great for me. If only they’d stuck with Rapunzel. That’s what they planned to call it, until someone decided that using the princess’s name might deter boys from seeing the film and ‘Tangled’ would make it marketable to both sexes. Funnily enough, making it appealing to both sexes was part of the reason I changed to my working title from Entwined to Tangled.

Here’s the ‘for and against’ for changing the title, as I see it.

For changing the title

  • There’s a risk my target audience (older teens) will assume my novel is connected to the movie and dismiss it.
  • Even if people realise the two aren’t related, the word ‘Tangled’ is now associated with a children’s movie, which could reduce its desired ‘edginess’.
  • Internet searches for ‘Tangled’ will be dominated by the movie, making it harder to find my book.
  • It’s no longer original (made even more the case by the Australian TV series Tangle, which is currently producing its third season).

Against changing the title

  • Disney’s Tangled is a children’s movie while my novel is for older teenagers. Appropriate marketing should clearly differentiate the two, limiting potential audience confusion.
  • By the time my book is released, Disney’s Tangled will be years old.
  • The word ‘Tangled’ portrays the content and style of my book well.
  • I really like it (not very objective, but still important).

I’m leaning towards not changing it, but am interested in your thoughts. Please let me know what you think by voting in the poll below and/or leaving a comment.

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31 Comments

Filed under Marketing, Tangled, Writing

31 responses to “Should I change my WiP title?

  1. This is a toughy! I confess, when I first saw the title of your WIP I did think immediately of the Disney movie. Not that that would deter me from buying a novel of that name or necessarily make me think the two were related, just that it did come to mind. I think the biggest problem with keeping the title is what you said about internet searches – your book will be far down the list and people might not see it. Tangled seems like a great title for your novel, though, and it is so important that you really like it….

    I’m wondering, is there another synonym that might work well? Or could you add a word or two to Tangled to differentiate it? Or make it a different part of speech – like Tangling?

    • Interesting that you did immediately think of the Disney movie. I wonder if that will still be the association in a couple of years’ time. A number of people have suggested adding a couple of words to Tangled. Nothing immediately springs to mind but I’m definitely going to have a think about it – it’s not like I have to make a final decision this week (though it would be good if I did because that would mean it was being published!). Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂

      • I actually think Sophia made a very good point – when your novel gets picked up by a publisher, they will most likely make the decision as to whether or not the Tangled thing is an issue, and they will either be happy with it or tell you to think up something else… or think up something else themselves. So I’m not sure I’d worry too much about it at this stage 🙂 What so you think about that?

        • I just posted this to Sophia: 🙂

          This is a good point and worth keeping in mind. The only thing that makes this a little less relevant is that I’m leaning towards self publishing, which means no agent/publisher help with title choosing!

          Out of interest, what do you think of the two other potential titles I’ve thought of today – ‘Tangled and Twined’ or ‘Entangled’?

          • I prefer Entangled to Tangled and Twined

            • I’m thinking of other possible alternatives… Embrangled (kind of an interesting lesser known word), Unraveled, Labyrinth, Perplexed, Implicated, Snarled, Triangle, Twisted (which might have the wrong connotation) or some other word or combination of words to do with joining, twisting, mazes, intrigue or complication… Not very helpful I’m afraid… I like Tangled or Entangled.

              • Thanks so much for taking such an interest in this! I don’t mind Unraveled but a quick Google search tells me that’s already a book. Gah! Thank goodness I don’t have to make a decision right this instant!

    • I’ve pondered your question (also raised by some others below) for a number of hours since I first read your comment, and I may have come up with something. What do you think of ‘Tangled and Twined’ or ‘Entangled’?

  2. It’s a great title – I love the word “Tangled.” Sounds like Mangled, or angles. Lots of good insinuation there. Plus, I’ve tried to think of alternatives – “Knotted” just doesn’t have the same cool sound.

    Plus, when people see the title in a book shop, which I do hope they will one day, it might make them stop and look at the back blurb. And pick up the book. And take it to the check out. Which I shall do, when it comes out, as I really want to read it now.

    • Awww, thanks Alison! I love the insinuations of the word too and also hope people will be able to buy it in bookshops one day (hopefully they won’t all go out of business!). So glad you want to read Tangled! 🙂

  3. I think you should keep it. If I saw a book called The Lion King and it was clearly marketed as Not Disney, I’d probably pick it up to see how it was different from Disney anyway. That’s a bonus. It’d get people interested because it shares the name with a popular Disney film but then the blurb and the cover and the first few pages could draw them in. That’s my opinion, anyway.

  4. I faced a similar situation: the working title of one of my projects was Across Two Universes–until Beth Revis’s book Across the Universe came out. (Of course, that book shares a title with a Beatles song and a movie.) Then I switched the title to Twinned Universes.

    I didn’t vote in the poll because I wanted to suggest another alternative. Do you have to use a one-word title? Can you reclaim Tangled by adding another word to it or changing it to something like Tangles?

    • Hmmm. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I’ve pondered your question for a number of hours since I first read your comment, and I may have come up with something. What do you think of ‘Tangled and Twined’ or ‘Entangled’?

      • For me, “Entangled” seems closer to your original title. “Tangled” sounds messy to me, but “Twined” implies a pattern; they’re wrapped around each other. The alliteration is nice, though.

        • Yeah, that’s what I thought. The book is told from two perspectives, and Tangled represents him well while Twined represents her well. But I’m going to keep my thinking cap on. Thank goodness I don’t need to make a hard and fast decision right this minute!

  5. I’m not sure how much my comment is going to help, but there’s always the possibility of your title being subject to change when you go on sub or even after that depending on just these kinds of issues e.g. searchability. I’d stick with your current title, but accept that it might not be the one your book gets published under.

    • This is a good point and worth keeping in mind. The only thing that makes this a little less relevant is that I’m leaning towards self publishing, which means no agent/publisher help with title choosing! Out of interest, what do you think of the two other potential titles I’ve thought of today – ‘*Tangled and Twined*’ or ‘*Entangled*’?

  6. Normally, I’d say keep the title. Duplicate titles are not an uncommon phenomenon. However, because it’s Disney and Disney has frequently demonstrated their willingness to take legal action, I’d say you should change it. They have a lot (lot) of legal power, and, if they can show that you’ve earned any amount of profit based on the association of your title with the theirs, they can sue. Better safe and all that. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

    • Hmmm. You’re the only one to have mentioned this. The idea of Disney suing me seems laughable, but then I’m sure when my book sells millions of copies and overtakes them in SEO results, they might get a little peeved… 😉

      Out of interest, what do you think of the two other potential titles I’ve thought of today – ‘Tangled and Twined’ or ‘Entangled’?

  7. Maybe you can just add another word to it to describe the novel further. I think that if you are that drawn to it then you should keep it. There are plenty of books and movies with the same title. But there are ways to make sure you get it out there to the World. Your loyal bloggie friends can post about it and help circulate the great info. Also have some people read it that will post reviews periodically like you do with your hot seat. I think they call them a blog tour. I am doing one for someone I have read for before. Now they sent me their second book which I will post about on the 15th. I love helping others out.

    • Awww, you’ve given me warm fuzzies, Regina. 🙂

      I’ve pondered your suggestion for a number of hours since I first read your comment, and I may have come up with some alternative titles. What do you think of ‘*Tangled and Twined*’ or ‘*Entangled*’?

  8. I was thinking along the same lines as Sophia – you may be asked to change it by the time you get to publication anyway. I’d say keep it for now, and when you get to the ‘bridge’ you and your agent/editor/publisher can think about other potential names.

    • This is a good point and worth keeping in mind. The only thing that makes it a little less relevant is that I’m leaning towards self publishing, which means no agent/publisher help with title choosing!

      Out of interest, what do you think of the two other potential titles I’ve thought of today – ‘*Tangled and Twined*’ or ‘*Entangled*’?

  9. I definitely thought of the Disney movie right off. There IS a book entitled ENTWINED, also (by Heather Dixon). Kind of a dilemma when you are attached to the title and it represents your book so well…but if it was my story, I’d be tempted to change it.

    But you could see what your future agent or editor says. (Assuming they won’t have a negative response from the title that would prevent them from taking a serious initial look at it.) Good question for an #askagent session on Twitter…I see you’ve asked in a general tweet about it.

  10. I wouldn’t change it if I were you. Yes, there are all those immediate cons to sharing a title with the movie. But, like you said, the movie Tangled will be years old by the time your book comes out. If the title really captures your book, then you should keep it.

    When you think about it, there are a lot of movies and books that have the same title, even multiple books and movies with the same title, that are completely different.

    Oh, and to what Andrew said about Disney and copyright – you can’t copyright a title (www. copyright. gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html).

    All that to say, if you really want to, you should keep the title. I know I would kick and cry and scream, and otherwise act very immaturely, if I had to change one of my titles. So hang onto that baby if you can 🙂

    • Just to clarify, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with copyrighting. If they can show that you are, basically, making a profit off of the association, then they can win. Also, they can go into it knowing they can’t win but do it anyway. If they can tie you up in court (for years) and your product isn’t available during that time, that can be the win for them. Also, because you are responsible for your legal fees up until the time that you actual win the case (and sometimes even if you win), well, they’ve put people out of business by tying them up in court. Which is a win, even though they lost. With some other company, it might not be an issue, but Disney… well… even though they’re Disney, sometimes, they’re actually the wicked stepmother.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Gabriellan. It’s a tricky decision to make! 🙂

  11. Pingback: A new working title! | Cally Jackson Writes

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