A to Z it's all about the title. So, you've finished writing that fabulous novel and now you need to settle into a title for it. You wonder if there are any no-no's, or tips. I'll try to offer a couple of each.
I like the punch of a one-word title. BUT, and there is a big but... a one-word title may not be specific enough, in the sense that when someone Googles it, the Net comes up with many titles that include that word. For example, I titled my first YA Refugees. When I type it into Amazon, I get The Refugees by Arthur Conan Doyle, The State of the World's Refugees, by the UN Commissioner and Human Cargo and a Journey Among Refugees by C. Moorehead. (Even though my novel is awesome!) It's also a mistake to make the title long, because it's a mouthful and hard to remember.
Under the Never Sky. It makes your synapses fire up. What IS a "never" sky? How can you even have a "never" sky??? Another great tip is to use a key line from your novel's text. For instance, in Sarah Dessen's novel about Remy, a girl falling in love with a musician like her dad who abandoned her, Dessen chose the title of a song that Remy's dad wrote for Remy that now haunts her: This Lullaby.
What is your best title? Why do you think it works?
Sunday Update – March 19, 2023
6 days ago
My new book is called WICKET SEASON. It's the first thing that comes up when you google it. It's the only book by the title on Goodreads. I wanted to call the book something else but the publisher didn't like it. At first I didn't like Wicket Season, but it's growing on me.ReplyDelete
Gabrielle, I like Wicket Season! Not sure what it means exactly, but that's part of the allure!ReplyDelete
Well, considering my agent titled Touch of Death, it's pretty apparent I'm not good at coming up with titles. LOL. But I did after many, many weeks of my agent asking, "What's the title?" come up with the title of my other YA out on submission. Sometimes it takes me a long time, though.ReplyDelete
The title for my current work came to me right away but the titles for books 2 and 3 in the trilogy took a bit longer. Right now I love them, but we all know that editors and agents often weigh in and changes are likely.ReplyDelete
I HATE titling my work. I can never pick a good one off the top of my head. My debut, Blood-Bound, was titled "book" on my computer until I'd gone through several drafts. And now I'm working on a sequel, "Book II" (:ReplyDelete
Book Addict, hey, that first title, "Book on my Computer" has a nice ring to it!ReplyDelete
Ha ha. thanks. :)Delete
Coming up with a good title is one of the biggest challenges I faced when publishing my memoir. Following the Whispers just came to me one day and I do think it says what the book is about. Nice to "meet" you.ReplyDelete
I like the title of my current WiP (which I actually started writing 2-1/2 years ago and just recently went back to), but I know from using Google that it's also the name of a game company *and* some Dragon Age fanfic. So Sundered Sword is certainly going to go through a change in title. Not sure what the new title will be now, but that's descriptive enough while I'm working on it.ReplyDelete
How much control do you have in choosing the title of your book? I am so impressed by all the published authors on the writing challenge.ReplyDelete
Great post Catherine!ReplyDelete
Excellent post. Titles are difficult for me. Usually my stories remained unnamed until they're done. I like the one to two word punch too. My best title is "Witch's First Rule." It was named "Alchemy" for years but it wasn't representing the story properly.ReplyDelete
Great post Catherine! The title of my current WIP is "Nameless" and no, that doesn't mean that I don't have a title. The title is Nameless - it is referring the death of innocent children that are born as healers. The kings has them slaughtered and most are killed as babies, so they don't have names. No one cares about them. It's my favorite title. :)ReplyDelete
Hi, Catherine - I've accepted your invitation!ReplyDelete
I do agree about titles. My seocnd book had (I think) a disastrous title, but I'm still pleased with Dead Ernest. Oh - and mmy about-to-be-released Basic Theology for Fallen Women. I like that. But I recently read (for review) a book with such a complicated title that I had to look it up every time I mentioned it, and have not forgotten it completelyl!
Oh man, I need someone to help me with a title for my WIP! It's current name has not much of anything to do with the present book. I've had that happen twice now, where I've edited the original title out of the book. Gah!ReplyDelete
oh i am hooked by a title for sureReplyDelete
My superlong Russian historical novel originally had the insipid, culturally-inaccurate title Amy and the Boys. During my second major period of working on it, I came up with the title You Cannot Kill a Swan: The Love Story of Lyuba and Ivan. I use the symbolism of the swan mating for life and standing for friendship, loyalty, brotherly love, etc., throughout the book, and one of the secondary main families has the surname Lebedev(a), which means "swan." The second book is called The Twelfth Time: Lyuba and Ivan on the Rocks, and the third book, which I'm finally going to start hopefully later this year, is Journey Through a Dark Forest: Lyuba and Ivan in the Age of Anxiety. That one's title was inspired by the first stanza of The Divine Comedy.ReplyDelete
I just came upon a new title for my WIP, And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away, inspired by how at one point he recites Shakespeare's Sonnet 145 to his future wife, with the sexes and pronouns mixed up a little.
Carrie-Ann, it seems that with each new title, your "naming" gets better and better. I do like you getting in those Russian names in books #2 & 3, but the last title, And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away is one of those great titles that makes you stop and pay attention--you want to know who the fiend is, and how someone can "fly one away".ReplyDelete
Jaye, you could always get help from bloggers to help title. When my cover artist was doing rough thumbnails of various cover designs, I posted them on my blog and took a poll. I'm so glad I did because the consensus was right-on!
Frances, I had to laugh at the image of you having to look up that complicated title every time you needed to write it! That just proves the point about long titles being a no-no!
Love that Never Sky title. It does make you wonder! Titles do intrigue me. Water for Elephants? What in the world could that you about, you'd think? I always have a title before I begin writing. And I do create it from a passage in the book. I agree, short titles work best. Something to think about...a one word title not being enough - thanks!ReplyDelete