23 Sep The Evolution of CRIP UP THE KITCHEN’s Title Changes
Recently, Crip Up the Kitchen got a new title. While the title change was later in the publishing cycle than can be typical, it isn’t unheard of. In fact, the common wisdom is that the publisher is going to change the title anyway, so don’t get attached to it. When I say “later in the publishing cycle”, the title was changed during the first round of proofreading, after a meeting with sales reps. People are more familiar with a title change happening before the design process. It is also not uncommon for an agent to propose a title change before going out on submission.
This most recent title change isn’t the first time the title changed. If you are interested in how the sausage that is books and titles is made, then sit back while I explain the evolution of what is now titled CRIP UP THE KITCHEN: TOOLS, TIPS AND RECIPES FOR THE DISABLED COOK.
First Title – The Disabled Kitchen Cookbook: Realistic Tips, Tricks and Recipes to Crip Up the Kitchen
When I first got the idea for this book, I created a duotang to house printouts of all my recipes. I decorated the cover of this duotang and titled it Disabled Kitchen Cookbook. My logic was simple. Disabled Kitchen and Garden is the name of my food and garden blog. The book was borne out of the website. So the book should be named after that brand.
I created my proposal and began to query agents. Five agents in this first round. Nobody responded. I was hoping for at least a rejection to see if I could get a sense of what wasn’t working.
(Aside: I loved getting rejections, which could be a post for another day if there is any interest as to why.)
During this time, She Who Must Not Be Named did a transphobia. The Tobias Literary Agency responded to this by offering free query letter critques to trans authors. I jumped on the offer. And that is when Maria Rogers–who is no longer working as agent–came up with a new title. This title would be the title up until September 22, 2022.
Second Title – Crip Up the Kitchen: Realistic Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for the Disabled Kitchen
The moment I saw this new title suggestion, I was hooked. Because platform is a major factor in securing a non-fiction publishign deal, I had assumed that the title of the book would have to match my cooking website branding. I needed an agent to point out that my assumption was incorrect. There are other ways to reflect my brand in the title, like focusing on the disruption of ableism aspect and making a title in the active voice.
When I say the suggestion was good, what I mean to say is that it was great. I queried another handful of agents with the new letter and title, and got a response from nearly every single agent. Some were rejections with feedback. Some were full requests which later turned into rejections but with amazing feedback. And some were revise and resubmits (R&R).
With some amazing feedback and R&Rs in hand, plus three surgeries in less than six months, I took time away from querying to recover from surgeries and work on the R&R.
(Aside: Maria also made suggestions of things I should change in my query letter, which also helped in Round 2 queries. In between rounds 2 and 3, another agent made even more suggestions for changes to my letter. The third letter is what sealed the deal. Let me know if you want that sausage post.)
When I was ready to query again with a revised proposal, I landed my publishing contract. I had expected a title change but none came. Copy edits came and went and still no title change. The first round of proofs land and still no title change. Then came the meeting with sales reps. The meeting had various things on the agenda, including selection of book covers and finalizing marketing copy.
Final Title – Crip Up the Kitchen: Tools, Tips and Recipes for the Disabled Cook
It is a subtle change but a great change. Everyone was happy with the title as it was when I signed my deal. It was heavily tested in various disability and activist spaces. It was tested amonst academia. Everyone was happy because the title alone disrupts ableism, which is the whole aim of the Cripping/Crip Up movement.
However, during the meeting, the sales reps pointed out redundancy in the title. Redundancy that had been bugging me for months but I never brought up because I figured if they are happy with it, then I guess it isn’t the big deal my brain was making it to be. There was also concern about the use of the term crip up because not everyone may be familiar with how it is used in social change efforts, and how it is being reclaimed in ways similar to the use of queer to self-identify.
I proposed two solutions. The first was the edit the marketing copy to include a line about the Cripping/Crip Up movement and what the term means. The second was to change the title to what I almost changed it to before my third round queries, Crip Up The Kitchen: Realistic Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for the Disabled Cook.
The acting publisher (job title) went back to my team at TWE and the sales reps with my proposal. Then she came back to me with more feedback from the reps. They were happy with adding a line to the sales copy to make the intent of the title clear. They also wondered if there was a way to work in the word tools because a large portion of the book is dedicated to exactly that, and a more representative title would be better for sales. The acting publisher suggested to me the subtitle of Realistic Tips, Tools, and Recipes for the Disabled Cook. I countered with Tools, Tips and Recipes for the Disabled Cook because that is the order in which these sections appear in the book, making it that more representative of the contents.
And then it was settled!
That is just one of the many reasons why a title may change this late in the process.
I am very fortunate to have had so much say into the title of this book. Many authors don’t get this level of input. My biggest fear during this entire process was that the words Crip Up would be erased because ableism would win out in the end, despite the fact this book is all about putting ableism in the rubbish bin. The whole point of Cripping is to ensure the voices of disabled people are heard and accepted as the experts in their experiences and how their stories should be told. To have a publishing house stand by me as I actively disrupt the ableism of food and cooking is super swell.
I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.