Home » My Rants/Opinion » Anal Retentive About Titles?

Anal Retentive About Titles?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I always think about book titles. I want my title to be different. Another author posted on Facebook about how difficult it can be to come up with book titles and so I thought I’d just post this here because I have this issue too. I just don’t think a lot of authors like to admit how hard it is to come up with something original.

So anyone who’s written, or is writing, a book more than likely has fought with the dreaded title.

How do we pick a title?

Well, I don’t know about you all, but for me my title is built from the central theme of the book, from a subject within the story, or maybe a tagline or something that a character might constantly say. It might even grow from a central character’s personality. But, there was at least one time when I thought up a cool title and then said, yeah, I should write a book with that title. So, the title came first. Regardless, the title really was the central story idea.

Okay, so maybe you’ve been struggling, or not, with your title. Maybe you’re sure of the title, maybe you have two others on the back burner. Also, there’s THIS friend who offered you up an idea, and THAT friend who offered her title idea. These things are not helping, are they? Often, they confuse us more. Eventually, we choose a title. One that you think is da bomb. But, is it?

These are some steps many authors wrestle through before they find a fitting book title. So what do you do next? Me, I like a little authenticity, and I want exclusivity of a name. So when I settle on a name or two for a book, I utilize the Internet. I check Amazon, I Google it, check Goodreads and other databases. Why? Because if there are 5 books out there named “Night of the Living Dummy” I want to know this. I need to change the name of the book if there are 5 other books with the same name! Look at the books…2 comedies, 2 horrors…& 1 romance for “Night of the Living Dummy.” *Please note: I do not know if there is a book out there in the world today titled, Night of the Living Dummy. I just pulled the title out of my ass right now for this example.*

I’m so surprised that in this day and age an author would love his title so much that he’s willing to share it with 5 other authors, especially when the themes are similar. When a reader reads my book then returns it to a library, or maybe passes it on to friends, then someone asks, “Hey. I was trying to find Night of the Living Dummy on Amazon and 5 books came up. What’s the author’s name again?” Uh-oh… “Um, I don’t remember.” So you just lost a reader.

For example, I went to Amazon and typed in “blood lust.” Six books came up with that title and another couple variations. So which Blood Lust am I looking for?

I am thankful for technology and my library so that I can try to give my title some originality. If you check Amazon for Someday Always Comes, or Angel Maker or Cop Lover, or The Sheriff’s of Robertson County, you won’t find those exact titles. I made sure of that. Of course I cannot help what authors who come after me will do, or why they’ll name their suspense story Angel Maker when there’s already one there. Now if the genres are different, it might not be so bad as long as there is not 5 books.

I understand that often books may have the same or similar titles but be in different genres. So this can be helpful to the person looking for Night of the Living Dummy the romance, because there’s only one, so the the author’s name doesn’t matter as much anymore. But what if they were all horror?…No romance or comedy…just horror? It’s a slight hurdle.

Originality, however, can be hard to come by in genres overrun by good, but fast becoming cliche titles, such as vampire novels, crime dramas, and romance. My vampire series took me forever to name. The individual books might not be so hard to title, but the actual series name? Every one I came up with was already a series name or a book name…and used several times over. I finally, after a year, came up with two names that are not in Amazon’s database yet. Whew!

This can also be a problem with short stories and poems.

Maybe I’m just being too anal retentive about the whole book name issue. However, truth is, it’s hard to name a book with an original title that will stand out. What do you all think? I’d like to hear your thoughts on choosing titles. If you don’t write, but like to read, I’d also like to know what your thoughts are.

As always, thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Anal Retentive About Titles?

  1. Wow, I absolutely went through this whole things, exactly as you described for my title. It took me 2 months after I finished the book to decide on a title that encompassed the whole of the book and also be original; and it was difficult considering many, many books have the title ‘heart’ in it. Great post for all those title seeking writers.


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