Titillating Titles…

I have the hardest time choosing things. Big life decisions, where to go to college, where to live, what kind of job I would have, were all easy for me to make. But take me to a restaurant and give me a menu with more than ten items and I turn into a massive ball of indecision. I have the same problem with clothes. I’m one of those unfortunate people that changes clothes four times before they leave the house. Why?

How do you pick your books?

Duh! People are going to see me and what I wear is like a statement of who I am. The same thing goes for what I write. I’m sure like most if you, what you write is a part of who you are and when you turn out a piece of writing to the world it is like a little reflection of who you are. And that little piece of you needs a good title.

I don’t judge a book by it’s cover. I judge a book by its title, because when you go to a book store and see all those multicolored book spines on a shelf that’s the first thing you notice. I found two new authors on title alone. A DUKE TO DIE FOR by Amelia Grey and THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley was another. When I saw those titles they jumped out at me. On a shelf of hundreds of books I picked those up because the title made me need to know more. As a writer I want that. I want readers to need to know more about my books.

I have to give it up for fellow scribe, PJ, who named her next release SAVAGE CINDERELLA. In all honesty I don’t know much about the book, but the title makes me think of a heroine who doesn’t have it so easy and might be somebody I could root for. It’s a book that even if I didn’t know the author I would pick up.

What bugs me about a lot of romance titles are that they are so benign. They are usually two or three words put together that doesn’t tell me anything about the book. Do you have any idea how many books are titled THE SWEETEST THING? BE MY BABY, ONLY US, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE , all good books with so-so titles. Books ,that if I hadn’t read the authors work before, I might not have given a second look.

I know that editors at big publishing houses change or pick titles for their writers all the time. But what if you’re a newbie like me who is trying to get an agents attention, or a writer whose working with a small press or e-publisher trying to get your name out there? Or an indie published writer who title needs to stand out among thousands. I know that writing a good book should be my/ any writers first concern but isn’t the title important too?

I have a hard time coming up with them. I want them to be memorable and catchy and attention grabbing. But I also want them to give readers a tiny glimpse into my book and the type of writer I am.

I often spend more time than I should lamenting over titles. (I can’t even bear the thought of having to name children!) I didn’t even choose one for my latest WIP. The credit goes to Casey Wyatt, to whom I sent a panicky email to begging for help. Ten minutes later she came up with a dozen of them. Asking for help is the easy way out but I want to know if there is a way to do it?

So how do you do it? Is your title really that important to you? Have a hard time choosing one? Have an easy time? Any titles jump out at you lately? Got a favorite? Any and all comments are welcome.

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22 thoughts on “Titillating Titles…”

  1. Thanks for the props, Jamie. I love titling my books. Decisiveness is one of those “you are” or “you aren’t” things. I tend to be pretty decisive once I know what I want, LOL. I can’t take full credit for SAVAGE CINDERELLA. I had a few other titles for that book before coming up with that one, but none of them was right. They weren’t catchy, didn’t stand out, and just didn’t feel right. One of my first critiques partners, while reading an early draft, stumbled upon the phrase in the manuscript where I was describing the hero’s perception of this wild girl he’d found in the hills of North Georgia. Here’s the excerpt:

    “The expression of loyalty and seriousness on her face forced a smile to his lips. She was completely unaware of how ridiculous and adorable she looked. Standing there blue lipped in her tattered cargo pants, worn hiking boots, and a grubby tank top, she looked the picture of a savage Cinderella—-one who’s only companion was a bear.”

    That is who Brinn is. I fell in love with the title. The funny thing is that I had two very well known published authors (who shall remain nameless) who told me the title was all wrong and gave a negative connotation to my heroine. It was painful sticking to my guns and ignoring their advice because I respected them so much, but the title just fit for me. Another funny thing is that I had entered several contests with this piece and gotten nowhere, but once I changed the title to SAVAGE CINDERELLA, it placed in two well-known contests and got rave reviews. Go figure. There is much to be said for choosing the right title.

      1. All right, Casey. We need to get Jamie a Best of Queen CD. Really, Jamie? You don’t know: “I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like” ?????? Come on. There’s gotta be a romance title in there somewhere!

  2. Titles are hard. They have to both intrigue and indicate genre. I make lists of words of elements in the story. Or even jargon used in the story. Then find metaphors for those. Then, because I write mystery/suspense, I make a list of “murder words:” synonyms or slang for death, darkness, mystery, searching, blood. Some words on those lists jump out. Then, I link ’em up to see how they fit. I mull over them for a while. My WIP is on its third and, with any luck, final title.

  3. Jamie, I’m right there with you. Picking a title is killer and so very important. Like you, titles catch my attention in the bookstore. If it’s a writer I’ve read before, not so much, because if I love them, I’ll always pick up their new releases and check it out. But how do you find a new author to love?

    PJ Sharon and Casey Wyatt are both very good at this. Maybe they’ll share their secrets with us??? (Yes, that’s a hint ladies.)

    For my current WIP, I gave it a working title of TO CATCH A THIEF. It was more for me and not one I’ve really planned on using for the final draft. I’ve agonized over what the final title will be an so far, nothing has reached out and slapped me saying “Pick Me, Pick Me.”.

    p.s. Naming the children was MUCH easier. :0)

    1. I’m always looking for new authors to fall in love with. That’s why titles are important or friends with good taste in books.

  4. I must be made of different stuff because I have no problem at all naming my works. Although, I am not yet published and am told the titles are often changed. I don’t know how, but the titles just seem to come to me. I know that’s no help to you, Jamie. Nice plug for PJ though. I have to say, PJ, I saw the cover art on Savage and I really like it.

  5. Jamie, I agree. The title is your 5 second commercial. It has to catch the attention of your audience. It is the first step to success. The visuals are important too, but take second place to the first step, the title. Good post. Thanks.

  6. Some books like MYSTIC INK and THE UNDEAD SPACE INITIATIVE just named themselves. But ASCENSION went through several titles changes. Usually the title comes to me right away. Not sure what part of the brain is controlling that! I wish I had a better answer. 🙂

    1. I loved Ascension but I’ll admit I had to look up the word before I started. LOL But now that I know I think it’s a good fit.

  7. Title is a toughie. I’ve read so many romances with terrible titles – Velvet Promise (the whole velvet series, in fact). Good books, bad titles.

    1. Jude has some pretty awful one. Lavendar Morning, Wild Orchids. If I didn’t know what she wrote I would have no clue what those books were about.

      1. Yeah – honestly, so many romance titles are bad, I don’t really look at them. Often if someone asks me what I’m reading, I have to look at the cover to answer, or I say, the new Julia Quinn – or Hyacinth’s story. Something like that.

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