If you're part of the innocent camp, the series title Tillsonbugger Adventures wouldn't have made you blink twice. After all, it's a play on words referring to three mischievous children (buggers) who learn about bugs in the town of Tillsonbug. However, if you cringed, you most likely knew the other meaning of the B word.
I tend to speak Fernism, which is defined as “the language spoken by Fernanda who unknowingly uses derogatory terms or words in everyday dialogue”. So, to my horror, you can imagine how I felt when I realized that I permanently scarred my series of books with THAT word. It was a wonderful blogger from the UK who pointed it out. WHAT!? I'll give you the honours of researching it in the Oxford dictionary.
Here in Canada, at least to my knowledge, we don’t use the B word in that context. I had my Canadian publisher and two American editors review the book, and no one picked up on the term found so inconspicuously in the series title.
So, on that note, let's talk about choosing a series title for children's books. I can only speak about what elements were important to me for Tillsonbugger Adventures, as I'm no publishing expert.
Does it look and sound good?
I wanted a fun word that rolled off the tongue, yet captured the objective of the books.
I had other two other ideas:
Bugsiety: anxiety about bugs
I decided against this series title because I didn't find it fun, not aesthetically, nor did it sound appealing.
Bug Society: a society that learns about bugs
I felt this was too scientific, and these are not scientific books, even though they do contain facts about the featured bug. It was much too formal and serious for a fun series about children and their insect discoveries.
Does it capture what the series is about?
The town is just as important as the children and insects. I wanted to capture all three elements in the adventure series:
1. Town: Tillsonbug
2. Children: Buggers
3. Bugs: TillsonBUG
Would the series title make sense for each book in that series?
In Tillsonbugger Adventures, the town and children remain the same in each book. The only changing element is the insect they discover and explore. And so, the series title makes sense for each adventure. It's not too specific, yet not too vague.
And, to not offend readers, I never use the B word on it's own in the actual stories. It's only part of another word in the series title. At the end of the day, you can't please everyone. There are many words that are used in both good and bad context, it's just a matter of knowing how to use it for your purposes.