Book Writing 101: The Title

Deciding on your book’s title can fall somewhere between divine inspiration and a mind-numbing task. The following tips will help you create a memorable book title that will attract an editor, agent or reader.

Does the title define your book?
Think about how people choose a book. In a bookstore, or on the web, what usually will capture a customer’s attention are the title and the cover. It only takes seconds for most people to decide whether it connects to them on an emotional or a rational level. For most fiction books, a reader wants to connect emotionally. How does the title make them feel? What can they tell about the story just by reading the title? Does it give a hint at the book’s genre? Usually a reader is able to tell if a book is a murder mystery or a romance just by the title. Some book titles are more vague, but intriguing enough that you may want to read the back cover blurb.

Begin with a working title
Consider this your title’s rough draft. You will most likely tweak it during the writing process, or discard it completely, but begin with something in mind that you can work with. When I wrote Devon’s Choice, I realized the main plot of the story centered on my heroine’s choices and how she would resolve them. Keeping the title short and concise gave the essence of the story and was also easier for a reader to remember.

Is it original?
It’s disheartening to spend so much time thinking up a great title, only to find out that it’s already been used. Do an Internet search of your idea before finalizing it. And, while titles are not copyrighted or trademarked, you will not make friends in the writing industry by accidentally copying someone else’s.

Use common words
Since your title will be one of your main marketing tools, don’t complicate it with words that are not commonly used, are difficult to pronounce or spell. While you may want to have a quirky or intellectual sounding title, it’s of no value if someone can’t remember it.

Get opinions
The title that works for you may not do anything for a potential buyer. If you’re stuck with having to decide between a few titles, ask for help. Fellow authors are usually a good place to begin, especially ones who write the same genre.