Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Book by Any Other Name. . .

How important is the name of your novel/story? When we were children, “The Little Red Hen”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, and “Cinderella” caught our attention--and we weren’t disappointed with what followed. But today’s adult readers are different--they need that hook, and it begins with the title on the cover and segues to the blurb on the back of the book. If it doesn’t zing, it doesn’t get read.

So, how do you come up with a title that ‘zings’ but doesn’t mislead the potential reader and leave her feeling she’s been duped by the time she’s thirty pages in?

Anne R. Allen gives you a look at well-known books which started out with one title and ended up with another. (I especially applaud whoever made the change from Stephen Crane’s Private Fleming: His Various Battles to The Red Badge of Courage!)

A too-long or too-short title can be a negative as can a title which doesn’t appeal to the audience you’re hoping for. You don’t want to use a title which has been used before (though that’s difficult to avoid sometimes), because you don’t want to lose a sale based on the results of someone’s inaccurate internet search.

Consider which titles have appealed to you in the past and think about why. Titles which are too generic are also problematic. Though War and Peace is still a classic, as is Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, in today’s I-need-something-to-read-and-it-can’t-take-forever world, you’d think about those tomes two or three times.

Chuck Sambuchino makes a number of good suggestions as you debate the name to give to your new baby. . .er, manuscript. I particularly like one of his ideas: titles inspired by names of songs and poems. Since those aren’t copyrighted, look around.

I’ve only been dissatisfied with one of my titles, but the rights of the book recently reverted to me. I plan to tweak the story a bit and most certainly come up with a new name for baby. Also, the ‘campy’ titles of the six book Penelope Pembroke series apparently appealed to a large number of people. The titles of the three book Dreamland Series  did not--so I re-released with new titles and new covers. Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland became Lethal Legacy in Dreamland--which definitely describes the theme of the book.

Don’t be in a hurry to choose a title. A ‘working title’ does the trick if you just have to have something to hang your hat on.

While you’re thinking about it, cruise on over to my website and browse my titles. Do any of them appeal to you? Remember--I’ll send a PDF to anyone who commits to review.

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