Whether you’ve been in the publishing industry for years or are just starting out as a newbie, you’ve probably already realized that titles are important. Choosing a great book title catches an editor’s eye. A book title with pizzazz grabs the attention of social media. Choosing a book’s winning title can make the difference in sales.
With over 100 books published by houses big and small, I’ve gone through my share of title angst. From brainstorming a title, to submitting my manuscript, to waiting for the decision of the editorial team on choosing the final book title, the process your book goes through to choose its official name can be very daunting.
I’m happy to say that many of the titles I submitted on my manuscripts actually made it to the published book. But many others didn’t. That’s okay. I’ve learned that publishing a book or a magazine article is a team effort and the marketing team (who often holds a powerful influence on the final title decision) has cutting edge experience in today’s competitive market that I rely on.
BRAINSTORM TO CHOOSE A BOOK TITLE
Brainstorming sessions are always a win-win for writers. They come in handy when choosing a title, too. (If you’re a picture book writer, CLICK HERE to read my blog post on how titles can influence your picture book, too.)
To help you in your own title brainstorming session, here is a list of prompts to consider:
Write down a title for your manuscript:
Using alliteration such as Sideways Stories from Wayside School
That you like such as A Pirate’s Mother Goose
About your Main Character’s (MC’s) problem such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Featuring your MC’s name such as Jane Austen for Kids
That’s in the form of a question such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
That’s a declarative sentence such as I Don’t Want to Be a Frog
That’s a list of 3 words such as Click, Clack, Moo
Using words that rhyme such as The Cat in the Hat
That’s only 2 words such as Math Curse
Featuring the setting such as The Door in the Wall
That’s just 1 word such as Flotsam
After you have brainstormed an idea or two for each of these prompts, also list any other ideas you think of. Then go through and choose the best title to represent your manuscript.
MORE TOP TIPS FOR CHOOSING BOOK TITLES
As you narrow down your decision for a working title, here are some more top tips to consider:
Has your title been used before? Look online to double check no other books have been published with the same one.
Do you want your title to connect with your “brand”? CLICK HERE to read Cindy Lynn Sawyer’s great blog post and learn more about branding yourself and your books.
Will your target audience be able to find your book by its topic or is the wording in your title too obscure so that it’s hard to know what your book is about? (This is especially important when writing nonfiction.)
Does your title start with a number (such as 51) that would make it hard to find in a catalog or online list? Some people will list the title starting with F for fifty-one and others will list the title starting with the number, which even varies in different venues because some list titles beginning with numbers at the top and others list these at the bottom.
Is your title so unique or have such a strange word it in people won’t be able to easily remember it?
Compare your title with the titles of other books on a similar topic as yours. CLICK HERE to read Karley M. Conklin’s blog post on finding titles like yours.
TEST THE WATERS!
If you’re not sure which title from your brainstorming session is the best, ask your writing buddies for help. Get votes from critique members, family members, educators you know, your librarian friends, and social media contacts. Unless your project is under wraps and confidential, enlisting your writing community to help choose a working title can be a lot of fun.
So put on your thinking cap, brainstorm a potential list, then choose your favorite working title. One day, you just might see it in print!
And if you have a published book or article, tell us the journey your title took in the comments below!
-Nancy I. Sanders is the children’s author of over 100 books including the how-to book for writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published and Build a Successful Writing Career. Visit her website at www.nancyisanders.com.
Image of pirate story by Tumisu from Pixabay.
Image of Astronaut by Cdd20 from Pixabay.
Image of Books and Door by Nino Care from Pixabay.