Reading Time: 2 minutes

It comes as a surprise to most people to learn that authors rarely choose the titles of their books. That’s often a good thing. Margaret Mitchell’s first title for Gone With The Wind was Ba! Ba! Black Sheep— including the exclamation marks, I kid you not one bit. Roots was Before This Anger. Tolstoy thought All’s Well That Ends Well was a better title than War and Peace. Worst of all, Of Mice and Men was originally titled Something That Happened. Imagine a book in which something happens. Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying was once Tipsy, The Wonder Kitten, and Treasure Island was originally titled The Sea-Cook. And I only made one of those up.

My first choice for the title of PBB was Secular Parenting. I get an attack of the yawning fantods now that I think of it, but there it was. When the publisher said a titling committee (!) would be re-titling my book, I was mostly concerned we’d end up with something far worse — either Raising God-Spurning Christmockers, or, on the other end, a title that said nothing at all: Parenting That Happens. They were dead-set on making a change because they’d Googled “Secular Parenting” and the very first site that pops up is this one. Heh.

I decided to come up with a new title so good that the committee couldn’t pass it up. After a week of cogitatin’, inspired by the unbeatable Camp Quest motto (“It’s Beyond Belief!”), I came up with Parenting Beyond Belief. And they bought it. How could they not. It evokes all the right things.

Not everyone thought so. One contributor was adamant that it be changed back, thought it looked like an attempt to downplay the focus, or worse, to “pass” as a general parenting book. I didn’t think so, and most people have found the title clever, positive and inviting. Since I stole two of the three words, I can agree with them without blushing.

The cover was a different story. Tune in next time.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.