Title is Everything

In the end readers are all about words, so when I go looking for a new book to read, I start perusing titles.  The book is either picked up or passed by based on its title.  Using my experience as a reader,  I’ll try to go through different aspects of titles and how they affect my purchasing decisions and also what I glean from them.

Is the title intriguing?

By intriguing I mean that it speaks of something more.  For me to find out what that more is I have to pick up the book and peruse it.  Now what’s intriguing to me is not necessarily going to intrigue someone else.  All I can say in that respect is know your audience.  Know what attracts them to your genre, and use that information to help title your books.  Here are some examples of titles that I’ve found intriguing.

  • A Land of Ash
  • No Better Place to Die
  • Saying Goodbye to the Sun
  • Call of the Herald
  • The Samurai Strategy

Or quirky?

I’m all for quirky.  I don’t know that this would be a definite rule of thumb for titling every type of book out there, but it does get my attention.  A couple of examples:

  • Bubba and the Dead Woman (Anything that involves a bubba is worth a follow-up)
  • Memoirs of a Vending Machine
  • Jacks School of Shines
  • Please Don’t Eat the Daisies

Does it feature a favorite character?

If you’ve written or are planning to write a number of books featuring the same character, then please put that somewhere in the title or subtitle.  Signifying that this book contains that same character can tell me a couple of things.

  1. If I am already familiar with the character, that this book is about that character, something that I might not have known if it hadn’t been included in the title/subtitle. 
  2. If this is the first time that I’m meeting this character it lets me know that there are other books out there or are forthcoming.  If I then read and like the character I can go searching for these other books. 

Believe it or not I can be a great fan of a character and not be a great fan of the author.  I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but I do not like other books written by the author, so make sure that you include the character name in the title somewhere.  Here are some examples:

  • Harry Potter and the . . .
  • . . . A Donovan Creed Novel
  • . . . A Stephanie Plum Novel

Along the same lines: is it a series?

Again, if you are writing a series of books signify that in the subtitle, this lets me know that there are follow-up books.  It was years before I learned that Dune by Frank Herbert was the first of a series of books. 

Single Word Titles

For the most part I’m not a fan of single word titles unless that single word speaks volumes. 

I hope this helps.

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Posted on July 11, 2011, in Marketing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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