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.

Finding a Book Title

Finding a Book Title

I'm actually thinking this could be a good cover for the sequel.
I’m actually thinking this could be a good cover for the sequel.

 Since my brain is fizzled this morning, I decided to do one of the topics I proposed in my last blog post because it would be interesting to read how I choose my titles versus how someone else does.

When Stars Die actually went through four title changes. The first time it was Croix Infernal because I had an evil cross in the book and my characters were French, but neither of those things exists anymore, so the title had to be scrapped. The second title was Lady Tourniquet because the sequel was Witch Tourniquet. Lady Tourniquet could still make sense, but the theme in When Stars Die isn’t about suffering or bleeding for anyone or being a sacrifice like it is in the sequel. So while the title was nice it, too, had to be axed. Then I came up with When Silence Screams because MC Amelia feels trapped in her mind most of the time since she has to bear a burdensome secret no one else can know, but that didn’t fit the main theme of the book well, so I knew I wanted to change the title.

I just couldn’t think of what to change it to.

So I just flipped through my book and stumbled across the most meaningful passage that neatly wrapped up the entire theme of the book. Amelia is talking about stars and how when they die they leave a lasting impact. The stars we see today might not even exist today or only appear as they were centuries ago. So Amelia contemplates this, wondering if witches will leave behind such an impact, or if they wither away, leaving nothing behind.

This made me realize the main theme of my book involved what one leaves behind after one dies because Amelia tries so hard to find some meaningful way to live her life while also appealing to her god Deus. She wants to leave something behind
but is terrified that she can’t. However, she is determined. Thus, I came up with the title When Stars Die.

So when I choose my book titles, I choose them based off the main theme, which can be difficult to find in the first draft. However, Stolentime, my newest book, will likely stay because the little town called Stolentime is where everything happens for Gene, where he changes and grows. Stolentime is separate from his world, so it allows Gene to develop a new perspective on life, a perspective he can’t receive being at home since he is coddled due to his illness.