Questions and Answers – The Perfect Title

Arina asked me the following question in a tweet this morning – 21st of June, 2014.

How do you come up with a title?

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A title is important. After all, along with the cover, it’s the first image a reader is going to have of your book. So you want that title to grasp the main content of your story, reflect your writing style and the novel’s genre. And you want to do this in as few words as possible.

So how did I come up with my titles? My first, Old Magic, had a literal sense to the essence of the story. Kate uses the words ‘old magic’ in dialogue. It was the vehicle used to solve Jarrod’s ancient family curse. Old Magic was essentially perfect and my editor agreed.

My second book was The Named. This was a nightmare and in the end I didn’t pick it. I had a working title that was, according to my editor in an email exchange I wasn’t supposed to read, absolutely hideous and needed changing immediately.  On reflection I can see now how bad my original title was. It didn’t say anything about what the book was about. It didn’t tell the reader it was a young adult paranormal fantasy with time travel. It didn’t say it was about a special group of people with paranormal powers who were chosen to keep the world safe.

I got better at picking titles with The Dark and The Key and I believe that was because these two were the second and third books that followed The Named and I knew the titles were perfect when they came into my head while I was writing them.

My fifth book Hidden wasn’t so easy and my editor picked the title. It was on my short list anyway, so I was happy to give my approval. I had three different working titles for Broken, but by the time I finished the manuscript I had selected Broken and knew it was right.

Coming up with a title is a different experience with every novel. Some titles just pop into your head as you write them. These are the easy ones. It’s as if your sub-conscious is selecting them, and you know right away that they’re going to work. While other titles you have to think a lot about, brainstorm possibilities, seek advice from colleagues, family and friends. After your readers have read your manuscript, ask them to come up with three titles for you. I’ve done this, and it can prove to be a great help because sometimes you’re just too close to the story to see the perfect title.  

I want to say that in the end it’s your choice, but that’s not necessarily so, unless you self-publish. I trust my publisher because they have the marketing skills and they know what’s selling out there in the big world.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your novel, and good luck in coming up with the perfect title.

Marianne

 

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