Naming your novel

December 28, 2017

 

I was talking to a fellow writer and picking titles for books. He mostly stumbled on them by the time he had finished writing the book. I know the title for my books before I even start. They often lead to important plot developments.

 

But picking a title for a book can be difficult for some. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid steering wrong.

 

1. Don't be too cliche

My second book I wrote I made the mistake of calling it 'You Can Run' I really should have checked first how many books were called this. I had checked with my first book. I got excited and didn't go through the proper checks for my second book. On Goodreads you have to go through over 10 books before mine pops up. Visibility is important. 

2. Have a mystery

I read an article that said that many of the most popular books leave a question on the cover of the page. Like Harry Potter. You ask who the heck is he and what is going to do with a stone? Is Harry the Philosopher? Your title should intrigue someone.

3. Keep it short or make it catchy

Don't do weird spelling either. People want something that is easy to remember so alliteration works or something very quirky it sticks in your mind like 'the enchanted chocolate pot'. People find books online and if the title is too long to remember to type they won't be able to find you. You can get away with this if the weird word is also a bit of mystery.

4. Have Meaning

Don't pick something random because it sounds cute or something. The title has to have some certain meaning to the rest of the text as it sets up expectation to the reader. If you mention tigers in your title there better be tigers in the book. It is about expectations. If you promise something you have to deliver. If a movie is called Eye of the tiger or a Fish called Wonder I'm expecting some wildlife in there. People tend to give bad reviews when books don't live up to their expectations.

5. It isn't nearly as important as you think

At the moment all you can think of is your first novel but in reality it is just your first book. Don't name your website after it or make up thousands of business cards with the cover of the book. When you are on your fifth series and written over a dozen books that title is just going to be part of your back list.

 

Many successful authors even put things that would normally go into the summary into the title. Like it is a retelling of a fairy tale. Being too particular and precious over the title can be a detriment. Learn to go with what works instead of worrying that it will hinder your creative process. Be careful though not to sell anything in your title like saying a thrilling murder mystery. This is bad practise and can get you into trouble. I know there are other books out there doing that but they are being naughty.

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