How to Come Up With the Perfect Title for Your Book?
[Approximate Reading Time: 5 mins]
The content of a book, without a doubt, is what makes it a success or a failure in the long run. At the same time, there’s no denying the importance of a catchy title and an attractive cover design in garnering readers. The title is what piques the reader’s interest and gets them hooked, even before they have flipped to the first page. Thus, the title is your primary marketing strategy. It is never too early to start thinking about a title for your book. In fact, plenty of writers start working on the title alongside the manuscript. Begin with a list of possible titles and then take a look at your options every few days.
What is a Good Title?
A good title will convey something about the tone and plot of the book without giving away too many details. An ideal title is one that stays etched in the memory of the readers. It needs to be unique and easy to pronounce. Also, choose a title that cannot be confused with another book. ‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller and ‘Death of a Salesperson’ by Robert Barnard as also ‘Cat’s Eye’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘Çatseye’ by Andre Norton are examples of what not to do!
Arriving at the Perfect Title
Being a writer puts you at an advantage when you are looking for a title for your own book. You are the one person who knows the book inside out, quite literally!
- Evaluate what the book is all about and visualize it in your mind’s eye.
- Go over the concept of the book, the main protagonists, the period in time when the story takes place, and the setting of the story before you start penning down possible titles. Think along the lines of, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, and ‘Cold Mountain’ for inspiration.
- Determine if your book needs a subtitle. Subtitles might be required for a book that’s part of a series or if your title needs to be explained just a wee bit more.
- Keep the title short, ideally five words or less, excluding the subtitle.
- Try to be creative with your use of words. Replace commonplace words with slightly unusual ones, but without making it overtly complex. For instance, ‘The Hunger Games’, and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
- Make use of literary devices such as alliteration such as ‘Gone Girl’ or double entendre for a catchy title.
- You could also look for interesting quotes or famous phrases to use in your title. For instance, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ is from a poem by John Donne, while ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is derived from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’.
Mind the Genre
While there are no specific rules for book titling, you’d do well to stick to language that resonates with your genre. Do some research on the book titles in the genre of your book. Picking a title that is along other book titles within the same genre will give your readers an idea about the contents of your book. For instance, if you have a non-fiction book that is a guide or offers a solution, then this must be evident in the title. A subtitle can help bring about clarity. ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change’ and ‘The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11’ are some examples.
While trying to be different is okay, make sure that you are not alienating yourself from the genre with an ill-fitting title. For instance, titles such as ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Golden Compass’ bring to mind fantasy while ‘The Martian’ and ‘The Time Machine’ spell sci-fi. When it comes to poems, evocative language and emotional undertones are likely to work well. Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by Mary Frye amply illustrate this, respectively.
Last, but not least, make sure that your title doesn’t even remotely bring to mind any controversial topic or individual. That is one surefire way of offending readers and making a dent in your marketing strategy!