Earlier I was discussing with a writer friend of mine the importance of having an original title for a book. Yesterday, I found a soon-to-be-published novel with the exact same title as her unpublished draft. I mentioned that she should change the title just because it looks plain bad for your book to have the same title as another book. It took a bit of persuasion, but I think I got her to see her book from more of a marketing perspective and less from a writing perspective. Self-publishing authors really need to be business-minded people, and while titles are there to give your work a name, they also exist for the purposes of marketing.
While titles are not copyrightable, they should be unique enough that they can stand out in a search and not drown in a sea of other similarly-titled novels.
I suppose it’s fine to have the same title as another book, so long as the main content differs, but don’t you want to stand out? I sure as heck do, which is why it took me five title drafts to come up with When Stars Die.
- When a reader mentions the title of your book to someone, you don’t want that someone to think of a different book with the same title. You want that person to think of your book.
- You want it to be easier to find your book in a search engine. For example, if you have the same title as someone else and that someone else happens to be doing better than you in terms of sales and searchability, you might not even show up in a search at all. Or, if you do, you won’t be on the front page. This is important because word of mouth is important. If a potential consumer doesn’t remember your name but the title of your book, you can still be found, assuming your title is original. Said consumer also won’t be confused by going on to Amazon and finding other books of the same title but having no idea which one is yours because said consumer can’t remember your name.
- Readers do like to look up reviews. If you have the same title as someone else, finding reviews for your book is going to be that much harder, especially if your book doesn’t have as many reviews compared to the other book of the same title.
- You don’t want people to think you’re unoriginal, especially editors. You want your title to be fresh, new, and exciting. Having the same title as another book kills that experience and just looks unprofessional anyway.
- Creating your own title is a lot more satisfying than recycling one that’s already been used.
- Ultimately, it is about marketing. If you’re going the traditional route, editors might change your title anyway, so you might as well come up with an original one editors are less inclined to change. The same should hold true for self-publishing. Ask yourself if you think an editor is likely to change a title. If yes, change it. Editors might not be marketers, but they still have experience in the field, and they will change the title of your book if you have the same title as someone else.
Ultimately, your title needs to be a perfect fit for your story.