Today, I’m participating in Round Robin and our topic is: How important is a title? What attracts you to a certain title, and how do you determine what to title your book?
It’s funny that this topic should come up right now as I’ve seen some pretty stinky titles lately. I always wonder what people are thinking when they pick them. Recently, I saw a commercial for an upcoming movie and rolled my eyes the title was so bad. It was so bad that I’ve blocked it from my mind. LOL Obviously, I’m not going to see it.
Some I haven’t forgotten, and some I Googled. The following are for your entertainment. Please weigh in whether you agree with me or not.
Here are a few bad titles that have kept me from either going to see a movie or buy a book in years past or would keep me from doing either:
- F.A.R.T.: The Movie (Yes, that’s really a movie title. What they were thinking, I don’t know.)
- Santa with Muscles
- I Know What You Did Last Summer
- I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
- Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?
- Taken by a T-Rex–I know this one actually sold quite a few copies and spawned a genre of its own. I don’t see the appeal, but several people did.
- Unicorn: Horn of Desire
- Scary Stories to Tingle Your Butt
- Mounted by the Minotaur
- any title that includes “billionaires in my butt”–I’ve read books with anal sex. That’s fine. It just makes me question the quality of the writing when a title is that bad.
And that’s why titles are important. I guess all of these titles have an audience… somewhere. Not me.
Like artists and musicians, I’ve gone through different reading periods. At one point, I loved gothic romances. If you put a castle on the front with a suitably creepy title, I would pick it up as a possible read. Another time, I loved medieval romances (in particular, Scottish). So, The Laird’s Bride or The Lass and the Black Knight would’ve caught my eye. I also went through a period where science fiction/fantasy novels were all I wanted to read. Anything with magic or space or something relating to that (Eg. The Magician’s Gambit, The Birthgrave) would draw me in. It had to catch my imagination and fit the cover for me to pick it up to read the book description. If that looked good, I’d read an excerpt.
What I’ve found for me is that the longer the title, the less likely I will respond positively to it. Sentences don’t do it for me. Anything salacious doesn’t work either. Perhaps all of those are supposed to be tongue in cheek, but I’ll keep scrolling. A clever pun can be effective if it’s not too forced. (Yes, there’s a fine line.)
Companies spend thousands of dollars to figure out what to call their products. If a title wasn’t important in selling a product, this wouldn’t be the case. But what makes a good title? I believe it depends on your target audience. Savvy authors consider their audience when deciding what to name their baby. Sometimes, our choices don’t work out as planned.
Naming Our Babies
For a lot of authors, titles are the bane of their existence, even for me. I struggled with what to call The Whispering House. The title matched the story when I first started writing it, but as the story evolved, I wasn’t sure if it still did. I’m still unsure, but it’s better than some others I came up with. One reader said that the story took a completely different turn than they expected, but they loved the book.
Now, Hieroglyphs was easy to name. The protagonist is obsessed with an indecipherable set of hieroglyphs on an ancient Egyptian scroll. Decoding them sets an ancient feud in motion. Anything else wouldn’t have made sense. Is it a good title? That’s questionable, but it certainly fits the book.
Like The Whispering House, I struggled a bit with what to call Mr. Hotness. Ultimately, I pulled it from within the storyline of the book. It seemed to fit, and, well, the hero is truly hot. LOL As hot as the man on the cover? I think so, but you’ll have to read it to find out. 😉
My oldest book, Last Chance… I don’t really remember how that came about. Reviewing the story in my mind, I think it’s because it started as a free e-zine chapter series. This allowed me to write a few chapters at a time. I think I originally called it “Last Chance Romance.” It stuck. Considering the ages of the heroine and hero, I think they’re young enough to have found someone else, that this really wasn’t their last chance to find love. Of course, the age I wrote it at, perhaps 30-somethings seemed over the hill, and thus, the title. Hahaha! They don’t seem that old anymore. (grin)
My current WIP is tentatively named “Red Dawn.” Unfortunately, that won’t be its final one. It doesn’t really fit, but it sort of does as it’s set in China in 1960 during the Great Famine. They’re shifters, and it’s a dark erotic romance. (Yes, I’m aware of the famous movie called “Red Dawn.”)
By the way, I seem to be better at naming other people’s books. Isn’t that always the way?
If you’d like to see what others have to say about this very important topic, please follow the links: