I’m going to get into my own book title adventure on Friday, but I’m sure most authors can relate. You come up with a title at the start, change it halfway through, and then cycle through more until you land on the final choice. It’s rare for the first title to stay until the end if we have one at the start in the first place. Regardless of how it happens, we usually go through a lot of trouble to come up with the perfect title. It needs to be catchy and connected to the story. If it’s part of a series then you need a series title and the volume ones may have a common theme. So many choices and decisions that you need to factor in before you get your cover art much less publish. So, what are some ways that we can make things easier?
- Do not think that your first choice has to be the final one. You came up with it during the planning stages, but the story may have changed enough that the title no longer fits as well as you’d like. Sure, the basics are there, but you know there’s something better out there. If you really have trouble saying good-bye, write the rejected title on a piece of paper, set it on fire, and flush it down the toilet. Then explain the concept of a Viking funeral to the plumber.
- You might get frustrated that your title has ‘of the’, ‘and’, or other common phrases within it. Try not to make this a sticking point because you could end up tossing out a really eye-catching title on a technicality. Language has tons of common phrases and they exist for a reason. That reasons is because we all use it and the words involved are some of the most basic, repeated ones ever.
- Never change your title once the cover art is completed unless you’re also the artist. If you’re not then you better think carefully before taking what’s a point of no return for this piece.
- If you’re coming up with a series title then you need to have it focus on the overall story and not what happens only in the first book. This is something that will be on the cover of every volume, so it needs to go the distance. It doesn’t have to be specific or make immediate sense. There has to be a connection though, which can be nicknames, the name of the heroes’ group, the event that’s occurring, or whatever comes to mind when you think of the full scope.
- Humor in a title is great, but only if the story has some comedic aspects. People will expect laughs if the title makes them giggle, so be careful here. Serious dramas tend to have serious titles for a reason. All that being said, you can still use puns and play on words, which aren’t always funny. With the correct crafting, these can become downright chilling.
- Don’t make a title that is so long that it could run from your wrist to your shoulder in Point 12 Times New Roman font as a tattoo. You don’t want to make this a marathon of words because you’ll wear out the potential read before they can make a purchase. If you do this then at least provide some oxygen or water for when they finish.
- Be careful testing out your titles with an audience. Some people will say it’s great because they don’t want to upset you. Others will say it’s terrible because they have a different view of your story. This is difficult tactic to depend on solely because of lack of information. The people you’re asking don’t know the overall story in the amount of detail that you have in your head. They might not see what you’re seeing, so their title suggestions won’t encompass the whole idea.