Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Determine Your Book Title

Lately, I’ve been asking myself: What makes a good book title? How do you choose it? Because, besides the cover art and, of course, the story, the title might have been the reason that someone picked up the book in the first place.

Panicking yet? I know I would. Because, see, book titles not only have to intrigue, inspire and pull your reader in for the ride but you get only one shot at it. Make it count. Make the reader skim the shelves, find your novel, and wonder what you have to give them. Make them wonder what the hero has to face, what stands in his or her way?
The problem with that is that book titles are subjective things. To one reader, a title or a word might catch their eye while it’d send another reader running for the door. One might like titles that could have double meanings, another might like dark-sounding titles, while yet another reader may like titles that sound heroic or suggest magic and mythical creatures. There are a few universal “rules”—and I use that word loosely—about book titles (and what to look for in choosing your own) that stay intact, regardless of genre or reader preference.
They are:
Word Choice:
The word choice of your title is key, you want the title to be fresh and stand out in some way. Just like with your prose, your title can be simple but carry strong meaning if you use a strong word. Here, brevity is also helpful. Combine the two and your title will have a good chance at being memorable. Another key thing to notice is how the title sounds when read aloud. Depending on what you’re writing about, your title also has to suggest what the reader might be getting into. For example, if you’re writing a thriller novel, Tap-dancing with a Penguin will not fit as well as, perhaps, Crying Wolf.
Another question, regarding word choice, is to ask yourself:  Is the book part of a series or a single novel? You might have to choose a title that reflects the entire series and not only one novel.
 Another title rule, that goes hand in hand with word choice, is genre. Are you writing a thriller, an epic, a romance? The title should reflect the story, how the story is ‘classified’ on shelves.

Target Audience:
Another thing to remember is: Who are you selling to? Who are you trying to reel in? Are you trying to reel in the fantasy readers or the horror, or the romance readers? Your title should reflect the genre of your novel (if also within a subgenre, then the prominent genre).
Symbolism and Importance:
Symbolism and the importance of the symbol to the story might also be the judge of your title. Let’s say you had a character and she was supposed to find a jewel called The Blue Flame. You might have Blue Flame (or a variation of that), using a symbol or idea as the title.

Some Resources: 
I like to search for title generators online. It might be my favourite thing to do besides trying to find character names. Here are some of my favourite generators, specifically for titles.
Title Generator: With this one you input your own words in and it randomly mixes the words around to create a total of about ten results. This one's a little more flexible then the ones below.
Serendipity's Fantasy Novel Title Generator: This one is best to gather tons (up to 50) of unique results. Might spark something for non-fantasy writers as well.
Random Fantasy Novel Title Generator: This one’s a quick, changeable generator. If you don’t like a result (Say you got Warrior Bane as your title) type in a new one into one of the 6 boxes (To get, maybe: Warrior’s Game). This might also spark something for non-fantasy titles as well.

Thanks for reading! :D
-          Maddie 


  1. Oh, thank you so much for this! I find titles really tricky. Sometimes they just come to me (often without an actual story!), but others I just can't get my head round them. Thanks for this!
    ~West x

  2. This was great, Maddie. I love the title generators, what a great resource!

    I've always been good at coming up with titles. I tend to come up with the title of a book before I even start writing it, considering what the story is about in order to decide on it, and then writing around the title.

    Another tip is to consider if "The" is really important, and to leave it off if you can. This puts the reader's focus on the stronger word, and makes it more concise.

    Awesome post! Hm...odd that I can comment with my name and no one else can. Hope this gets fixed soon.

  3. Title generators sound like fun. I'll have to check that out. Thanks, Maddie.

  4. I don't usually have trouble finding titles for my stories but it's good to know about these title generators. I've never heard of them before. I'm going to check it out :D Thanks for this!

  5. My titles often come to me right along with the hero/heroine of my stories. I have used name generators though for characters (I have a hard time with those) But I think I'l try out those generators you mentinoed above.

  6. I really needed something like this. I ALWAYS have trouble with titles. Whether it's for poems or stories. Thanks!

  7. Love this post! I linked to it on my own post on creating compelling titles.

    I like that you point out that a writer should consider whether their book is part of a series when coming up with a title. I think that's one detail that would be easy to miss, especially on the first book.

    Thanks so much for your advice!

  8. this book is about true life

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