How to Find the Perfect Name for Your Book

PerfectThis post is in celebration of solving the most infuriating problem that has been eating at me for the past two years: what to name my book. I actually had my book titled “Working Title” because I couldn’t decide on a name.

If you’re anything like me, you can relate. You’ve got an awesome premise. The character development is going swimmingly. But there is one thing missing: something to call it. Whether it’s a short story or an eight book series, the name is crucial. It sells your story. I needed something that was eye-catching but not cliché, and everything I was trying just didn’t work.

I’m awful at naming my projects (proof: my blog title). It’s not a decision like Chinese food or Mexican food. It’s not an extra scoop of mint chocolate chip or 10 more minutes at the gym. Those decisions are easy. But this isn’t your waistline, this is your baby. It’s all of your hard work and sleepless nights and a bit of your sanity (okay, all your sanity).

It’s a big deal.

I know the frustrations of this art well, so I’ve decided to give some advice on the subject. To do this, I pulled out my brainstorming pages and looked for some common themes.

Brainstorm till the cows come home. 

Write down any words that describe the characters, plot, setting, or themes of your book. Don’t hold back on this list. Include anything that comes to mind because it could be useful later. Try writing a 20-25 word synopsis of your book and keep important themes, symbolism, and goals in mind. You may be able to find a phrase or certain words to use in your title. Choose bold words. For example, thief, game, deathly, secret, curse, and sorcerer are all words that will make your title attract readers.

Make a list of great book titles and use it for inspiration.

The Devil Wears Prada cover.jpg
Photo credit: Wikipedia

One of my favorite titles is The Devil Wears Prada. It’s clever, unique, and grabs your attention. Pay attention to the new movies coming out at the theater. A current trend for Disney movies has been bold adjectives like Brave, Tangled, and Frozen. An example of a book like this is Fairest by Gail Carson Levine. Check out this list by Clipperton Publishing for awesome titles.

Does your main character have a great name?

I was going to make a clever joke about how Joe Shmo or John Doe never had a book named after him, but I was wrong. Really wrong.

Anyway, you don’t have to rename your main character but this may give you some direction. Example: Anna Karenina

Or, use the Character’s Name + Description of Story formula. There are several examples of this in the fantasy genre such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This is a straightforward way to let your readers know who the story is about.

Battle of the Titles: Long vs Short.

Do you want a short, punchy title like Thwonk or something lengthy, but unique, like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Tailor your title.

Now that you have a rough idea for the title, you need to edit it. Is there another way you can phrase it? Take a word out? Do you have the article the at the beginning? Does it add to or take away from your title? For example, do you prefer The Hunger Games or Hunger Games? Graceling or The Graceling? The Hobbit or Hobbit? You need to be selective with every single word.

Does this title make me look fat?

The goal of choosing a good title is to make people want to read your book, but is the title true to the story? Does it have anything to do with the content or will the reader still be confused after reading it? Don’t give your book a title that doesn’t fit the story for the sake of being interesting.

Don’t sweat it.

It’s okay not to know yet. Sometimes you need to wait it out. I say that I’ve figured out my title, but I suppose I won’t be sure about that until I’ve actually published it. Give it time.

Do you have any tips to find the perfect title? Share them in the comments below!

Good luck!

Happy writing

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