Book Titles: Headache or Smooth Sailing

Book Titles: Headache or Smooth Sailing

Charles author photo B&WToday’s featured guest blogger is Charles Yallowitz, pressing upon the most concerning topic of title choosing! You can find his blog here.

 First, I’d like to thank Amber Skye Forbes for letting me do a guest blog.  I chose the topic of How You Come Up With Book Titles.  I’ve never written about this topic, which is why it was interesting.

 I come up with a book or series title within the first few minutes of a new idea.  I write it down and that title becomes a physical trigger for that idea.  Just looking at it or thinking about it helps me recall the information behind the story.  This works best with series because when you get to the books in the series, your headache probably begins.

My personal experience is the following:

  1. Make a book title and start writing the book.
  2. Realize that title isn’t clicking and make a new one.
  3. Go back to writing story.
  4. Finish story and realize new title is also bad.
  5. Try original title again.  50/50 that it will work.
  6. Edit your book and change title again.
  7. Get frustrated and put ‘Untitled WIP’ on manuscript for a week.
  8. Make new title and hand off to editors or beta readers.
  9. They give you title suggestions.
  10. Cry in the shower.
  11. Move on to another project to retain some sanity.
  12. The real title will suddenly appear the moment you go back to the book.

That is a little more tongue and cheek, but you get the idea.  A book title will originally be based off the basic premise.  As you write the story that premise will probably change and no longer match the title.  You really need to keep your mind open for that title that just clicks and stays for the entire book.  For example, my second book, Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, was originally called The Gauntlet.  This is because the heroes are going on a quest through multiple traps and dangers.  Lame title, but it hit on the main plot point.  I ran through other titles before I realized that it fit better to title the book after the new character.

This isn’t a bad thing because it happens to every author.  Yes, you will have the rare title that appears at the beginning and stays there.  Beginning of a Hero, my first novel, did just that, which makes it the rarity.  The norm is a title that changes time and time again until you find one that rings true.

I’ll finish on a few tips to help with title creation:

  1. Don’t desperately cling to a title.  If it feels wrong then it’s wrong.
  2. Analyze your story for a focal point for your title.
  3. Characters, plot central items, and places can make good titles.

There is no standard length of a title.  It can be one word to 10 words.  As long as it sounds good and clicks into the story.

17 thoughts on “Book Titles: Headache or Smooth Sailing

  1. Good to see you here Charles! I had my title for Red Clay and Roses early on. It had to do with place and love (parent child love and romance). The title for one of the novels I am currently working on has been an entirely different set up. It is an autobiography of a sort but with a different character name than my own. First it was “From Where the Petals Fell”, because I was speaking about my childhood and the orphanage where I spend a couple of years…then it evolved…that title wasn’t fitting once I got into my late teens and recent past…not at all. I still haven’t come up with what I feel is the best fitting title and might wait until someone else reads it. My most recent idea was “Southern Exposure: From New York to Nudism”… a far cry from the original and not carved in stone. Anything with Southern Exposure has been done to death…just type it in on Amazon. Thanks Amber for you author feature blog. Couldn’t have picked a nicer more helpful person.

      1. If my life had been as lovely it might have worked, and it still might…but the other is…well, a more accurate reflection. We’ll see how I feel in the end.

  2. Great post! Titles are so difficult! I had “Untitled” for a while, then moved on to the main character’s name as the title before a classmate suggested the final title. But my guess is some editor will quickly change that. *shrugs*

  3. Relatable post is relatable – and it made me laugh, especially with step #10! XD “The Dragon’s Disciples” was originally entitled “The Door of Magic” for reasons that make no sense whatsoever.

  4. I had a great title for my zombie fiction book; however when I did a search I found someone else had already used the title for one of their books. Same thing happened on the next five titles I came up with. Finally I came up with one I liked that wasn’t already used so when the book was finally available at; the title that I finally used was Biohazard Redacted Book 1 of the Zombie Apocalypse.

    1. Even then you’ll find some people won’t change their titles and you’ll go on Amazon and find five books with the same name! But at least you found one! 😀

      1. I’m not entirely certain that it is copyright infringement. I’ve seen it done even among the larger publishers, not just self-published books.

      2. I’ve seen many books with the same title so I don’t think copyright is an issue. But doing a search like on Amazon is a good idea to see if and who else may have the same title.

      3. I will say I think it’s very unprofessional to not do this. Why would you want the same title as someone else? It’s going to make it more difficult for someone to do an accurate search of your book.

      4. I agree. If someone else already has the same title I won’t use it. I want my titles to be original and ones that no one else has 🙂

  5. Great post, Charles. I rarely keep my original title and find the whole process of coming up with a final title to be fairly nerve-wracking 😉

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