Tuesday, April 4, 2017

That Book Title Is Important

       Many writers invest blood, sweat, and tears into their manuscripts, but then they throw away the best way to grab a reader's attention: the title. Let's discuss some of the problems I've discovered with the names authors choose for their babies.

Why a Title Is Important

          Reader's first notice a book's cover -- especially the title. Since the title is one of the first things that a reader sees, then authors should choose a title that captures and keeps attraction. What mistakes do authors make when "titling" their books?

         Boring titles: A title that is bland and boring gives a reader no reason to open a book. For example, I have a children's book, part of a series, about a duck and his adventure riding the waves in the lake where he lives. The working title was Louie's Adventure: a Louie the Duck Story. Boring, bland, meaningless. However, after thinking about the title for many months, I decided I like Wave Excitement: a Louie the Duck Story better. The new title gives more color and "excitement" to the story. Since the book is the first of a series, I want "a Louie the Duck Story" to be part of the title in some way. I will ask the designer put those words in parentheses under the main title, but the ISBN info will include the title as given with a colon joining the two sections. To find an interesting title, consider the content of your book; ask friends; take ideas from other books, without copying any title; ask yourself what you would want to read.

 Confusing titles: Titles can be confusing in more than one way. A title needs to connect to the content of the book in some way, and it needs to make a reader want to discover the story inside the cover. A title that gives an impression that the content is about the old West and the content is about city life, the reader is confused. The artwork plus the title should entice a reader, not confuse him.

         Having titles that are almost the same can confuse a reader. For example, if the same author writes a variety of books that aren't a series but gives the books similar sounding titles, people are confused. They may think they have already read a book because the title is much like a book by the same author. However, the book they put back on the shelve may be the writer's new novel. What's New Today, What Today Brings, Why Today Is New all sound alike, and yet they may be completely different in content and ideas. Now, books in a series usually have something in the titles that ties them together, even if it's just the name of the series incorporated in some way.

         A title that is used by multiple books: Research any title you might want to use. If over three or four books by other authors have the same title, then your book will be lost among the others with the same title.

         Therefore, you do not want to confuse readers. You want your title to capture their attention and lead, hopefully, to a sale. But, how might you discover a good title for your book?
1. Use the name of your main character. example: Jane Eyre
2. Use a line or part of a line from your book. example: For Whom the Bell Tolls
3. Use the setting of the book for the title. example: Little House on the Prairie
4. Use a mysterious word or phrase as the title, the theme or inspiration of the book, perhaps. 

5. Use a balance of mystery and clarity.
7. Use a title that refers to the content.

         Remember not to neglect the title of your books. That title is important.


  1. Great points, Vivian. The title sure does make a difference. Important to remember. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I don't know if mine are better or worse than others but I spend a lot of time picking a title for my books.

    1. Good writers do put much time into choosing a title. A few are talented enough to find one immediately.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. Your titles, so far, have been terrific.

  4. Great information, Vivian. The cover and title are the first grabbing factors.

    1. We do tend to judge a book first by its cover, don't we?