If there’s a song on the radio you want to purchase later, you make note of it. If you want something for Christmas, you remember what it’s called. The first thing someone says when introducing themself is, “Hi, I’m ___.”
If something’s important, then its title matters.
Your novel’s name is one of the most important marketing tools you have. A different title can give your novel a completely different tone. For example:
The right title will entice your reader into picking your book up and make the theme resonate with your reader long after they’ve put the book down. So how can you find the title that’s perfect for your book?
Examine Audience and Genre
First of all, you need to know what genre you’re writing and what audience you’re targeting. Oftentimes, the genre is evident from the title. For an exercise, try to guess what genre the following titles belong to.
Save the Last Dance for Me by Cora Lee
Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz
A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman
Answer: They’re all romances. Shocking, I know 😉
Now, of course, the genre doesn’t have to be obvious from the title. This is just an idea.
Look at Themes
Take a theme or significant element in your book and include it in the title to make your point resonate. Take To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A Mockingbird is regarded as an innocent bird that doesn’t hurt anyone, so Atticus forbids his children from hurting them. This theme of protecting the innocent is highlighted later in the novel when a black man is prosecuted simply because of his skin color. The title makes the theme that much more memorable.
Search Your Titles
Before using a title, do a quick search on Amazon to see if it’s already being used. While it isn’t illegal to have multiple books with the same title, it’ll make it harder for someone to find your book, so try to come up with a title that’s original.
Remember: the Publisher May Not Use Your Title
But if you have a really epic name for your novel, then it’s more likely the publisher will use your title instead of theirs.
- Find several books on Amazon in your genre. Write down everything you like/dislike about them. Which titles are your favorite? Which really pop out? Take a special look at bestsellers. They sell well for a reason.
- Compile a list of several nouns, verbs, and adjectives that describe or relate to your novel. Also include words related to themes and metaphors you use. If you want a title with a little extra ‘umph,’ try looking at power words for some ideas. Power words are supposed to be emotionally resonant and pack a punch—perfect for the title of your novel. (Note: There is some profanity in the link I gave you, so be warned.)
- Try putting these words together into a title. Try out single word titles and titles with multiple words. Just regurgitate everything your imagination comes up with onto the page (or computer screen).
Disclaimer: Actual regurgitation is not recommended, so I take no responsibility for computers that have short-circuited as a result of this exercise.
- Take a step back and let your subconscious work on it. Try to give it rest for at least a day, so you’ll have time to sleep on it.
What are some titles you’ve brainstormed for your novel? What are some titles for other novels that really drew you in or inspired you to read them?