What’s in a Name?
Naming books is hard. I think it used to be easier, back in the day when people walked into bookstores and scanned their eyes over actual books, and could go to their section of choice, see the sizes and cover designs and pick up and flip through ones that looked interesting. The ones that looked like something they would want on their bedside table or coffee table. Back then, you could name a book Silent Spring without worrying that people would mistake it for a DIY household hints book.
Today, you have to consider how or if it will pop up on a Google search. (Just try Googling how to silence a spring. You’ll get about 400,000 possibilities. Is it for a bed? Or a rocking chair?) Take a book we’re working on right now, Susan Schaefer Davis’s fine survey of women textile workers in Morocco. Well first of all, we probably shouldn’t say “Moroccan textiles,” because only 24 people per month search for that term, versus 60 who search for “Moroccan crafts.” But wait. Does “crafts” include pottery and leather goods? We don’t want to mislead the masses.
What you call these women is tricky, too. “Moroccan women” gets searched 2,880 times, versus “women in Morocco,” which is of interest to only 132. “Morocco women,” which sounds sort of ignorant, gets a score of 864, though. We do want people to find the book when they go looking. You can grind on this kind of research all day long, but what does it get you? A bundle of insecurities. And we haven’t even gotten to the heart of the book yet.
The Heart of the Matter
It’s a vibrant book, full of the stories of interesting, spunky rural women scraping a livelihood making beautiful, useful rugs and clothes. They’re following in the footsteps of mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers back through the ages. They’re sitting at their looms together, or sitting at their looms alone, struggling to make a dollar a day in many cases. They feel blessed to have this work to do. They hope it will last through the next generations, because it is central to their culture.
Susan and Karen Brock and I have been kicking around all the words we can think of that might both describe the spirit of the women, the beauty of the work, and its economic importance to them and their families. And play well with Google. Help us out here. What grabs you? What would be better? Send your good ideas and strong opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you come up with a terrific title and we use it, we’ll send you a copy of the book, gratis!)
Weaving Power: Rural Women Entrepreneurs in Morocco (though not all are weavers)
Hands with Power, or Persistent Hands
Beauty and something about hidden power or support
Stories of Beauty, Hands of Power: Women Artisans of Morocco
Women Artisans of Morocco: A Wealth of Spirit, Pride, and Persistence
Women’s Textiles in Morocco: A Wealth of Strength and Resilience
Beauty, Strength, and Spirit: Women Artisans of Morocco
A Tradition of Persistence: Women Artisans of Morocco
Pride and Persistence: The Future of Women Artisans in Morocco
And so forth. When I worked at Interweave, we had endless meetings with many, many people to determine the titles of the books we published. I remember one in particular for a book of handcrafted toy patterns—it went on and on for hours, and in exhaustion or desperation or brilliance, we called the book Stitchy Kitty Fuzzy Puppy. (Thank you, Anne Merrow.) We sold a lot of those books. Did the title help, or hurt sales? Nobody knows.
All photos by the masterful Joe Coca.