Friday, October 16, 2015

5 Thoughts for Titling Your Book

What's in a title?  A lot!  It can make or break a book's sales.  With all the books out there now, all vying for a reader's attention, the title has to scream out to the reader to pick it up.  Just like the hook in the first paragraph or the cover itself, the title is the first introduction to the story.

So what's the best way to name a book?  According to the references (at the bottom of this article), here are the highlights:

1.  Keep it simple--just use a few words to convey the genre and the feel of the book.  If the title's too long, no one will remember it.  There are some exceptions to this rule, but there's an unwritten rule (not aware of it being written as 'gospel') that the magic number for a book title is three words.  I have a few longer titles, myself, and some of them sell well.  But I think the ones with just a handful of words seem to sell better.

2.  Use alliteration (same beginning sound for the words in the title).  For my book, 'Dead Men Don't Dust,' I originally had something stupid for the title.  I took a course from RWA and the teacher named it for me, stressing alliteration as one means for finding a title.

3.  Make it memorable and interesting.  The more people remember a title, the more likely they are to buy and read the book.  So, use something that's poetic or mysterious and you'll grab the reader's attention.  Or even use humor or a play on a phrase or well-known saying.  I did this in 'Ginger, Spice, and Everything Not Nice.'  I twisted the original saying in a few ways to make it catchier.

4.  Get the title from a phrase in the book, or the key theme of the story.  For example, my book, All for Aaron, had great sales.  The theme of the book was that the single mom did everything for her autistic son, Aaron.  She gave up everything she could, just for her son.  It was the key theme.

5.  Use a new, creative title, even outlandish if need be.  That means, don't get your titles from books that are already in print.  Yes, we all do it.  We think we have the perfect title, just to find out later that the title's been done and overdone already.  Pick words that would describe your book and put it into the title.  My latest book, 'Death's Sidekick,' is like that.  It describes the main character's job--a eulogist.  It's different enough that people would say, wow, that's interesting.

The overall point is this...you have the time it takes for someone to see the title and book cover to make them open the book.  If they don't, you've lost a sale.  So make the title and cover make them want to read the book.  It has to be catchy and different, or you've lost them.

If the book's not selling, consider re-titling the story.  I'm considering it for some of mine, some day.

If you need to see if your book title is worthy of a best seller, try the lulu.com/titlescorer link below.  Interesting!

Have a great week!
Markee

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References:
http://www.lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php
http://blog.karenwoodward.org/2013/05/4-things-to-keep-in-mind-when-choosing.html
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/titles.shtml
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/7-tips-to-nail-the-perfect-title
http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Good-Story-Title

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