Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you’re enjoying the summer. Those in the Southern Hemisphere, well let’s just say I’m not a fan of winter. But let’s talk about writing, not the weather.
Choosing a title can be one of the hardest parts of writing a book. Yet it is one of the most important. A title should capture the reader’s attention and also encompass the essence of the story.
You want the name to be unique. Because titles are typically short, they don’t fall under copyright protection. (Some titles, such as The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, are trademarked.) You could name your book Gone with the Wind or In Cold Blood, but it’s not something I would recommend.
The Girl on The Train was a best-selling thriller a few years ago. Around the same time, another author published Girl on a Train. It was not nearly as popular, but many readers accidentally purchased this book by mistake. You can imagine it garnered several reviews by disgruntled readers.
So how do you choose a title? Do you wait until you finish the book or before you write the first draft? There’s no right or wrong way.
The first book of my Driscoll Lake series had the working title Willow Lake. I never planned to keep the name, although I had chosen it as the name of the town. Shortly before completing the first draft, I looked on Amazon and discovered another author had a series of books with a fictional place called Willow Lake. That’s when I changed my town name to Driscoll Lake to avoid any possible confusion.
The book’s working title became Hidden Intentions. Another author whom I know published a book with that title, so I didn’t want to use the same one. I turned to a thesaurus. Motives is a synonym for intentions. Voila! I came up with Ulterior Motives. Good one, right?
Wrong. There are umpteen million books with that title. Back to the thesaurus again. I finally decided on Unseen Motives. By this time, I decided to make my stand-alone novel into a series. I wanted the titles to have cadence. It was easy to decide on Unknown Reasons and Unclear Purposes.
The title of my current WIP is from a line of a song. Since I’m writing another series, I’ve already decided on three of the four titles. Again, I like a bit of cadence, but that’s a personal preference.
A book title should also fit the genre. You wouldn’t want to name a fantasy novel Murder on The Orient Express. Nor would you name a romance book Day of The Jackal.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder tells me this book is a Cozy Mystery, while The Martian indicates the book is science fiction.
How do you choose your book titles? Do you name them before or after you write? Where do you get your ideas? Please share in the comments.