A Title by Any Other Name

One of the most difficult entities of writing a book is giving it a title. Some authors may go through a handful of working titles before finding just the right one. You want something catchy to hook your customer, something easily spread by word of mouth to potential readers. Here are some tips when it comes to giving your book a name.

  1. You cannot copyright a title. Did you know that? However that does not mean you want to saddle your latest manuscript with a moniker like A Tale of Two Cities or To Kill a Mocking Bird. The popular phrase Hide and Seek is the title of more than a dozen books. How confusing must that be for a book buyer? You want your title to be memorable, to stand alone in a reader’s mind. The best way is to do a search with your title between quotation marks and add the word book. Example: “my title” book. See what pops up.
  2. Make the title four words or less. Four or less works to your advantage in easy to say, easy to remember. You don’t want to be interviewed on the radio and have the host trip over a long, strung out title. Instead of 32 Ways to Knit the Perfect Sweater, you could call it Sweater Solutions.  A book called The White Terror of the Dark Sea is more cumbersome than Moby Dick.
  3. Don’t settle for the first thing that pops in your mind. Use it as a working title, but until your book in completed, stay flexible. A great title may be buried waiting to come out when you’re editing or even in the seventh rewrite.
  4. Hold a contest. Still not finding the perfect name, then open a contest on your Facebook page and ask your friends to submit their  ideas based on a short synopsis. Offer a free autographed copy and mention in the acknowledgments as the prize.

Shakespeare was correct with his wrods, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But your title needs more care and attention if you want to build up your readership. A title is the moniker of your book, the handle to carry it across your audience through reviews, word of mouth, in print and at the bookstore. You want your readers to ask for it by name.

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