After visiting Thailand dozens of times, usually taking small teams with me, I decided to write about my adventures. I tried several titles: Shining Light in the Golden Triangle, for instance. But I discovered that most Americans didn't know that the Golden Triangle was where Thailand met Burma (Myanmar) and Laos and where the poppies yielded opium/heroin/morphine. The "Shining Light" was a double-entendre: my name, Elaine, means shining light, and I was spreading the light of Jesus into dark tribal villages. But no one caught that.
The next title, I tried to make more fetching: The Shaman's the One on the Left. Once, I was preaching in a village and was puzzled over the reaction of a little wizened man sitting on the left side of the bamboo church. I learned later that he was a witch doctor! So that might have been a good title, except most Americans didn't know that "shaman" is another word for "witch doctor."
I sent the book off to all the Christian publishers in business at that time, nine years ago. They all rejected the manuscript on theology grounds: one said the Methodists wouldn't buy it because it had miracles. Another pointed out speaking in tongues. They claimed the Baptists wouldn't buy it. Etc. Etc.
I tucked the manuscript away in a drawer until 18 months ago. I decided to self-publish and knew I needed a real attention-grabbing title, so I called it, "Sleeping with a Witch Doctor." Got your attention, right? And it wasn't false: I really did spend one night in another witch doctor's house, sleeping by the fire, with him so close I could reach out and touch him!
Searching the internet, I found Tate Publishing. They are a co-op publisher: the author puts up money up front, but once the book sells a certain amount of copies, I'll get the money refunded, meanwhile earning royalties. But, they didn't much like my title. "We're a bit hesitant about the title," they said. "Could you think of a different one?"
That's how it ended up being "What the Witch Doctor Taught Me." People ask me, "What DID the witch doctor teach you?" And of course, I answer, "You'll have to read the book."
Available in paper and e-readers.
By the way, have YOU read it?