Start Writing a Book
After someone reads the title of your book, you want him to say,
"I want to know more," and then turn the book over to read the back cover.
A Message to Garcia
A Tale of Two Cities
And Then There Were None
Anne of Green Gables
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Kane and Abel
The Catcher in the Rye
The Da Vinci Code
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Eagle Has Landed
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Little Prince
The Lord of the Rings
The Revolt of Mamie Stover
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Thorn Birds
To Kill a Mockingbird
Valley of the Dolls
War and Peace
An important part of the book writing process is choosing the right title. You get only one shot at stimulating interest for book browsers at
first glance, so it is important to create a title that catches their attention. The right title will increase the marketability of your book by
enticing people to buy it. You want your book to jump off the shelf (or screen).
So how does one find the right fit for the title--one like one of the best-sellers listed above? Here are some considerations.
Readers love emotional stories, and what better way to let them know that yours is full of emotion than with an emotional title, like Nancy
Mitford did with "The Pursuit of Love."
Diehard one-only genre readers will gravitate to titles they know is within their area of interest just by reading the title. Consider "Lord of
the Flies" by William Golding, for example.
Determine the tone of your book and use it for the title. Is your story heart-wrenching as in Carson McCullersʾ "The Heart is a Lonely
Hunter;" intimate as in "Love Story" by Erich Segal, or somber as in William Faulknerʾs "As I lay Dying?"
Easy to Remember
Word of mouth is still one of the most effective marketing tools, and you want readers to remember your book so they can talk about it with
others. Who could ever forget George Orwellʾs "1984" title after hearing it?
One-word titles can be very effective as in "Airport" by Arthur Hailey.
Phrase From the Book
If you use a phrase from your book, especially from a pivotal scene, the reader will relate to the story as in "Much Ado About Nothing" by
Play on Words
Many books have included a clever play on words, such as "Czech Please." (Thereʾs no author associated with this title. I just made that
Create intrigue with your title as in "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins.
Using a current expression can be effective as in "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller.
Clichés, while not recommended to be used in your writing, can make good titles as in "Against the Grain" by Boris Yelstin.
Keep your readers guessing the meaning of your title with something like "The Tin Drum" by Gunter Grass.
A Personʾs Name
Many authors have been successful with the protagonistʾs name for the title. Think about "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov, for example.
The Name of a Place
The name of a place has potential for catching a personʾs attention as in "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte.
The Name of an Event
"Cocktail Party" turned out to be a memorable title for T. S. Eliotʾs book.
Short & Catchy
This is another way to keep people remembering your book. Just think of "Butterfield 8" by John OʾHara.
Not the easiest way, but the result of using contrasting terms can be effective as in "Dangerous Liaisons" by Peirre Choderlos De Laclos.
Or just make it fun like Judi Barrett did with "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."
Some Methods to Try
- Make a list of several of the nouns and verbs from your synopsis or plot points from your story. For example:
Now make a list of possible combinations for a title:
Murder in Oklahoma
His Last Rodeo
The Rodeo Shooting
A Cowboyʾs Gamble
Taking Aim at the Cowboy
2. Brainstorm with family and friends. Write down every title that is thrown out, even those that initially sound wrong. Then narrow Once you think you have a viable title, do an Amazon search for similar titles. You donʾt want people to pull up twenty other books when
down the list by process of elimination.
looking for yours.
Some More Tips
- Donʾt be too wordy. Book browsers tend to lose interest after five words.
- Be unique.
- Donʾt give away the plot or too much of the story with the title.
- Avoid cutesy and trite.
- Donʾt rush the process. Itʾs too important.
- Before you announce it anywhere, live with it for awhile. See how it feels, how it sounds in a sentence. Make sure itʾs just the right
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