Friday, October 21, 2016

The Title Can Help Sell the Book

Topic: How important is a title? What attracts you to a certain title, and how do you determine what to title your book?
Ah, titles! What a problem they can be.  For a writer, there’s always a “working title,” something to file the document under.  It may be the final title or not.  My three WIP titles, two short stories and one novel are:“The Powwow,”   “The Meth House,”  and Lizzie Bender Ledoux.  I’ll definitely keep the short story titles. I only began “Lizzie” a few weeks ago, so all bets are off as to whether that title will have staying power.

I am a firm believer that short titles are best, easier to remember and with a dramatic punch:  The Great Gatsby, War and Peace, Jane Eyre, 1984, On the Road ,Atonement, Mrs. Dalloway.  Well, you get the idea. My three published books all have short titles, and oddly enough, the working title became the published title: 
The Shadow Warriors, World of Mirrors and Festival Madness.  The title should describe the book, and maybe be mentioned in an important passage of the book.  
Festival Madness

 Then there are wonderful titles of medium length, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sun Also Rises, Catcher In the Rye, Gone with the Wind, and A Confederacy of Dunces.  All suggest a mood and even a mystery. Wonderful titles! 

What about longish titles? I am thinking of A Visit From The Goon Squad, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Longer yes, but compelling. Long, long titles are obviously verboten. 
How would the publisher put them on the book cover? 

Short stories can get by with longer titles, but I still like to keep mine short, like “Bad Trip,” and “The Insurrection.”  “The Rich Are Different” is my longest short story title.  

A great title like Gone Girl can help sell a book. By the way, titles cannot be copyrighted. When The Shadow Warriors was already published, and I’d done a lot of PR, I discovered that the name was a popular computer game. I never checked Amazon or Googled it. Maybe Google wasn’t even around then, but I made a serious mistake.

Here are some great writers who have interesting and varied opinions on the topic of titles.  Give them a read.

Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Helena Fairfax
Heather Haven
Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosinski
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.comPeace,


  1. About short titles -- an aspect I hadn't considered -- the titles of my four published science fiction novels are all short. I try to come up with something interesting, but I put far more thought into the titles of my poems, where I'm attempting to say something about the poem.

  2. Can you imagine trying to come up with a title if they were all copyrighted? What a debacle that would be! I agree with your title analysis, but next thing you know, there will be a mega-selling title that's a complete sentence,but hopefully not a paragraph!

  3. Judith,
    I've found the urge lately to write a book with an long title, as opposed to the usual two-or-three- word titles I do; I'm always drawn to those for some reason. When I was quite young, I stumbled across "Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters"--what a mouthful! Haven't gotten to it yet, but it's on the bucket list. Lovely post. :)

  4. Oh, I think "Shadow Warriors" is an excellent title. And if people searching for a game stumble on it, they might buy a copy!

    At one time, I was researching Viking times, and found three books with the same title. So, I read all three.

  5. You gave us some really great examples of super titles - while they might not be copyrighted anyone who chose to copy them would have either seriously disappointed readers or folk who figured they'd already read that book. I can only hope to one day publish a book that memorable, with a title equally memorable.

  6. Those were some great titles you picked. And what a good job that titles are not copyrighted! It's bad enough having to come up with a title without making it harder.

  7. For me, short titles are better. Obviously, there are those that break the mold like the ones you've mentioned, but, for the most part, I think I'll stick to short. :D

    Now, finding that memorable title, that's the key. :)



Your comments are always welcome!