Arguably, the book title is one of the most important elements to draw attention from a reader. It needs to create a sense of intrigue, or relate to its audience on an emotional level. This acts as a key criteria for ensuring that your novel is noticed. Sadly, graphical elements are also important in the decision to buy, even if it’s true you should ‘never judge a book by its cover.’
This blog post examines ways of ensuring you select the right title for your novel. I discuss only fictional book titles – non-fiction titles are a little different, as the reader is approaching them to receive more ‘information’ based content as opposed to pleasurable reading. A key question for you to ask when developing any title is what the reader expects from your book. After reading your title, what would they expect to see on the first page….or within the entire book? Make sure you are meeting these expectations, otherwise your piece of fiction is destined to cause disappointment.
So, check out the list below for some handy hints. Hope these help, and do feel free to expand my list by commenting on this post.
- Mind-map words/phrases. These are what come to mind when you think about your novel in general. You can always add to the list as you go along in the developmental phase of your book, but this provides a useful starting point when it comes to selecting the final title.
- Think about graphics/novel content. What title ideas are inspired by your front cover, your synopsis and your entire book? Take into account all aspects of your novel when choosing the right title if you haven’t already selected something.
- Write a novel summary. Craft an outline for your story and pick out the keywords and phrases that spring to life. Add them to your mind map of ideas.
- Research your genre. Are there any patterns about the type of titles used for your genre? For example, horror stories might have a tendency to use titles with graphic imagery.
- Think about your audience. Are you targeting primarily a male or female audience? If so, what type of words and phrases might encourage them to pull out your book. As an example, the book ‘girl on a train’ is more likely to appeal to a female.
- Consider sequential novels. Is your book part of a series? If so, are you going to find a way of linking the novels to ensure the reader knows. As an example, the Harry Potter series has a repetitive element in all titles, as books begin with ‘Harry Potter and the….’
- Existing title. I’m not certain on the specifics of copyright when it comes to a title, but the subject of copyright in general is something I’d like to research (stay tuned, it might form part of a future blog post). However, I do know that if your title is used in variants of other books, you might want to consider something else that is completely unique and original. There are still lots of titles out there just waiting to be claimed – our language is bountiful.
- Think about imagery. In theory, it’s good to try and evoke some emotion with your title that might encourage a reader to pick your book. In reality, this is a struggle with so few words available to an author’s disposal. The use of colour words and numerical references can often make books stand out as well as the use of imagery.
- Look at how the title is represented. How does the title look graphically? Does it fit with the overall design? Is it clearly readable, or are there obscure words in there? If you have obscure words, will they serve to intrigue the reader or put them off? Is the title easy to pronounce (especially relevant if you do happen to write children’s books)?
- Peer views. You could always run a poll on social media with some title alternatives, asking people to vote on which title they think most fits the book specifications. Perhaps you offer an incentive to those who vote, or maybe you just run the poll with close family and friends.
I hope this post might be useful in the initial ideas stage of developing a title for your novel, but please do feel free to suggest any further additions to this post. Thanks for reading.