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Choosing the Right Title

Choosing the Right Title for Your Book

You've done it! You've completed your book, and likely, way back in the beginning of the process you came up with a title. We're going to go out on a limb and say that's probably not the title you should use.
Why, you ask? Well, some time has passed since you had the lightning bolt that became your title and some things may have changed:

· The title you originally came up with might not fit with what the book turned into.

· You were thinking with your author brain when you came up with that title, now it's time to think like a marketing suit.

· You may have dashed off a title to have something on paper, now you need to come up with a more well-thought-out name.

This is not true in every case, of course. You might have nailed it on the first try. Your title might be prescient, edgy and attention-grabbing, all while describing the final product with exactitude. The only way to know is to re-evaluate it after the book is written.

Some good rules to follow in choosing a title for your book are:

Peruse titles in your genre on Amazon.com or some other book outlet. Keep in mind what’s acceptable to your readers but also how you can stand out from your competition.
Make a list of words and phrases that are descriptive of your book or contained within the themes of your writing. For even more flexibility, separate them by parts of speech into adjective, noun and adverb categories, then go to town with a mix and match approach.
Don't Get Too Wordy
We are all authors. We like words and we know how to use them. However, you want people to TALK about your book, in which case they need to be able to say the title to people. That means don't use too many words, words that are too long or words that are exceedingly hard to pronounce. For example, even "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" routinely gets shortened to "Alice in Wonderland."
If you've written a technical or scientific book that would make you the exception to the rule. Use the technically and scientifically accepted terms in your title no matter how difficult they may be. Otherwise you'll lose credibility.

Go Metaphorical
If you are titling a fiction book geared toward adults, you want to stay away from being too descriptive in your title. Metaphorical titles are much more memorable and intriguing. For example, pick which title you'd be more interested in from each of the pairs below:

1. Catcher in the Rye
2. Holden's Big Day in New York City
1. Farenheit 451
2. Book Burnings in a Future World

We've used obvious examples to illustrate the point, however your title may be more subtly toward one extreme or the other. Take a look at it and make sure it’s not overly descriptive. A title should be intriguing and leave the details to your synopsis. The key word here is “intrigue.” Your title should be magnetic and anything too obtuse may also be a turn-off.
Survey Your Title
Don't try to solve the title puzzle solo. Come up with what you think are your best 3 titles and run them by people you know who are the closest match to people who will read your book. For example, if you are writing a technical manual for welders, show the titles to some welders and get their opinions. There is nothing wrong with showing the titles to friends and family as well, however keep in mind that they are not necessarily your target audience.

Also, keep in mind that agents, editors and publishers will have their own professional opinions about the title of your book, so it’s important to be flexible throughout the publishing process.

Use all the feedback you get, consider your own opinion and think critically — then you'll have all you need to choose the best title for your book!



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Reader Comments

Saul Bottcher @ Thursday, May 30 2013 12:25 PM Flag Inappropriate
Good examples, especially Alice! Here are some more practical considerations for titles, including web addresses, how to use subtitles, and dealing with duplicate titles: http://www.indiebooklauncher.com/resources-diy/practical-considerations-for-your-book-title.php -- Saul

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