4 tips on choosing a title for your novel

I am in the midst of writing my next book. And even though I am not at the stage yet where I have to decide on the title, I find myself occasionally thinking about it. This tale is about a young man and a dragon so for the longest time I just referred to it as my dragon novel. Now a turn of events within the story has me toiling with the name Blood Bond.

Picking a title for your book can be hard especially if you have developed a working title for it that you decide cannot be the actual title. This happened with my first book which I thought to publish as The Elemental. But when I decided to make it a trilogy, The Elemental became the trilogy title, and I had to come up with the names for each book. (Summoned, Quietus and Destiny)

book titleI know some authors have the title picked before they even begin writing, but I always leave the official title to at least after the first draft is written.

Here are a few tips about selecting a fiction title.

Length – choose a short title – preferably six words or less. It might help to pretend the title will be on a billboard. Would a driver going 65+ miles per hour be able to glance over and comfortably read it? Besides not taking up a lot of room on the cover, short titles are easier to remember and easier to Tweet/promote.

Make it easy to pronounce – Shy away from foreign or made-up words because these don’t give the person picking up your book any idea of what it is about. A title won’t tug at the reader if they can’t pronounce or understand the words.

Make it relevant – Ensure that your book title actually has something to do with what’s between the covers. Readers don’t like to be tricked. You shouldn’t name your science fiction masterpiece something that sounds like it belongs to an Old Western.

See how popular the title is – Go onto Amazon and type in your title. See how many other books come up with that same title. Yes, I know you can’t necessarily have a name that no one has used before but if tons of books come up with the same name, you may want to consider something a little more unique. And of course do not use a title that already belongs to a famous book.

One way to pick your title would be to create a long list of possibilities. Include everything you can think of even if sounds cliché or a variation of something already on the list. Then take a look at what you want the title to do. Look at the above suggestions – short, easy, relevant and not overused – and weed out the titles that don’t work. Finally, you will get your list down to the real contenders. This is where you bring in others to tell you which titles they like best. (I did this last step on my last book but ended up going with the title I liked best and don’t regret it.)

Just remember there are no hard-and-fast rules for selecting a title. For every piece of advice you may get, you will be able to think of a title that goes against it. And while you may love a title, someone else may think it stinks. So in the end, I say to go with what you love. It is after all your book.

If you are looking for something to help get your creative title-writing juices flowing, check out this website. And this website also had some more good tips for choosing your title.



2 thoughts on “4 tips on choosing a title for your novel

  1. Candy Korman says:

    I recently completed a second draft of a new novel and I think I’ve nailed the title FEARLESS. It’s short, easy to say, and relevant. I’m on “pause” between drafts so one of my next step is to see how many other books have the same title. I’m sure there are some, but perhaps it won’t matter?

  2. […] covered characters, starting scenes, ending scenes, story arcs, setting, editing, grammar, covers, titles, pricing, and so many other […]

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