Finding the right title for your book

4 Feb

 At what point do you create the title for your book? At the beginning? Whilst writing? At the end as an after thought? Perhaps you have a working title?

For me personally, coming up with a title is the one thing I struggle with every time. Even a working title gets me all panicky. It’s like committing to the project before you even know the outcome…and shouldn’t it be witty? Thought provoking? A play on words?

For my crime novel I am working on now, I am using the working title ‘trapped’. It’s horrendous. It makes me want to shudder. It seems so amateur. So….

In the past three years, I have written seven poems, a picture book (hardly writing I know), three scripts, two teenage boy fiction novels (incomplete), a children’s story, a short story and what I class as the most amazing first chapter ever written (by me, naturally). That is not to mention all the other bits that were abandoned along the way.

Of these, I have only had two titles I liked. ‘No way out’, a title that I could apply to many of my pieces, and ‘Magpies’, which just summed up the story. Now I know you can’t judge these titles, not without having read the text, but trust me, these were good.

They were lucky, they just happened. But what if I never get lucky again?

I would really appreciate some advice on what you do to get that title? Reading more often than not it is easy to see where the author gathered the inspiration for the title, but me, my mind just goes blank.

Does anyone else suffer from this? What are your remedies?


11 Responses to “Finding the right title for your book”

  1. submeg October 30, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    I find that as I start creating the plot that the title will come to me. I will never try and lock in a title. I also like to gain insight from people I know to see what they feel about the title. It should come to you; if you try and shove a title in, you will never really be happy with it.

    • Ellie October 31, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      You are absolutely right there! Finding titles under pressure destroys all the hard work.

  2. Charlotte February 5, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    Titles are really difficult. Personally I find that the longer the work, the more difficult it is to choose a title that fits. The only way I’ve found to work around this mental block is to brainstorm excessively: write down everything that comes to mind relating to the story and hope that, sooner or later, some patterns will start to emerge.

    • Ellie February 5, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      That’s the bit that scares me, think too hard about it and I start doubting it all! Maybe I should just try writing the notes as I write, pick out particular words or lines that I like and hope that they inspire me. Thanks for sharing!

  3. amkuska February 5, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    To be honest, most of my titles come from the NaNoWriMo thread. I sign up every november not to play the game, but so I can have access to the name swap that happens each year. Even if I don’t have a plot to go with it, I’ll save the ones that stick in my heart. You never know when the plot will come to you.

    • Ellie February 5, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      I didn’t know about that. Last year was the first time I had even looked at the Nanowrimo site. I wanted to join in, but knew I didn’t have time. Asa result I didn’t properly look. I will definitely make use of the site this year,even if I don’t take part….although I really do want to try the challenge.

  4. Michele DeFilippo February 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Sometimes the author is too close to the book to write the title. Titles are a promise to the reader and all about what will appeal to the buyer who doesn’t know a thing about the book…yet. In a few words, the title has to say, “Stop! Buy Me! You’ll be Glad!”

    I invite you to read my blog posts on this topic:

    Michele DeFilippo
    1106 Design
    Your Book. Designed. With Hand-holding.

  5. Ellie February 4, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Oh to have a publisher! I think as writers we are such heavy critics of our own work that we will also seek perfection – even when perhaps it is not necessarily required. Good to have friends to help out though.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  6. Pam Parker February 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    I have a writer friend who is much better at titles than I am – I often quiz her. And, if she likes a title I’ve come up with, I’m “good to go.” Also, fyi, two writers friends have had their titles changed by the publisher, so I stopped trying to agonize so much over the title.


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