I believe that a well-chosen title helps to sell a writer’s work. The first impression a book or story creates depends on several factors, one of them being the title. The title will set a certain tone or expectation. Whether you write literary work, genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc., the title should fit the work. If it’s not appropriate, the reader may rightfully feel cheated.
I have a few suggestions that I think might prove useful:
First suggestion is to do some initial research. For instance, visit Amazon and Google. Check out titles for the kind of work you’re writing to get a sense of what is appropriate.
All right, let’s assume you have formed some ideas for titles. Second suggestion, go to World Cataloging and type in your title under the keyword heading. See what pops up. If your title is used by many authors many times, you might want to try for something different. Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun; however, you can do some variations that are unique. Also, keep in mind that titles are not copyrighted unless there’s a trade mark involved. You can, in fact, have the same title as another author, although if possible, it’s best to distinguish it in some way. My next Five Star/Gale novel is a mystery entitled THE THIRD EYE. There are other books with the same title. However, my full title is: THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY. This differentiates it.
Several people have asked me if the title of my novel THE INFERNO COLLECTION (http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=27895&cid=) was taken from Dan Brown’s new bestseller. I responded it’s more likely Dan Brown’s INFERNO title was borrowed from my work since my novel was published originally in hardcover in 2007-- although it came out in a new paperback edition from Harlequin Worldwide Mystery two months ago. However, although the themes of our novels are different, Dan Brown and I both wrote serious mystery suspense thrillers. Also, the term “inferno” directly connects to Dante’s Inferno for both books. In fact, the initial quotation that starts my novel is a quote from Dante’s Inferno.
Dan Brown observes in “10 Questions,” an interview with him which appears in the
May 27, 2013 issue of TIME Magazine, that an
important theme of his new bestseller is overpopulation. In my mystery novel
THE INFERNO COLLECTION, the title refers to a banned book collection, and in
part the theme of censorship.
This brings us to my next suggestion: consider if the chosen title can properly characterizes a theme of your book, story, poem, article via your word choice. This can make the title more meaningful.
Another suggestion: keep your title short if possible. Modern titles are generally brief unless you’re writing an academic dissertation. Otherwise, a few words will suffice. For example, the title of my last suspense thriller was DEATH LEGACY.
Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or provoke curiosity. Example: for the third novel in my Kim Reynolds mystery series I used the title THE TRUTH SLEUTH. http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=27323 Kim is an amateur detective. So the title fits the main character. The bit of rhyming hopefully makes the title stand out.
As a reader, what titles stand out in your memory and why? If you are a writer, how do you select your titles? Are there some that have been memorable and increased your sales?