How to Come Up with a Good Book Title
The most important thing about a book is its title. Forget about the content. Without a good title, people won't pay attention to your book. It can also persuade an editor to read your manuscript. Give your work the best chance of being picked and read by coming up with a title that will blow your publisher away.
Finish writing the book first and do not concern yourself with the title.Some writers get stuck on the thought that an author must come up with the perfect title before starting. However, most authors do not find this a productive mindset. Most writers will come up with a "working title" which is basically a rough draft edition of the title--temporary and almost guaranteed to change.
- After you write the book, everything will become more clear. But be sure to write down any ideas that come to your head, even if they're ridiculous.
Recruit a friend or editor.Ask someone to join a brainstorming session. Brainstorming with another person is faster, more effective, and more fun than thinking about it yourself. Ask the other person to read your book.
- Meet in a quiet, relaxed location so you can both focus on your work. Put on unobtrusive music if it helps you think. Sometimes music, especially if relevant to your book, can give you inspiration. Don't be afraid to use a lyric or two as a potential title.
Decide the book's main purpose.Read your book and think about its identity. Think of titles related to the central message, or to the main emotion it inspires. Talk to your friend about what inspired you to write the book, and how you felt as you wrote it. These conversations will guide you to a title that fits the story and your personality.
List favorite lines in the book.Write down favorite phrases from your work. These may or may not work as book titles, but they can give raw material to play with. Some books use titles from book quotations. Like The Beginning of Everything. This book's title is inspired by a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald. Do you have a quote that relates to your book? This just might be the best title you come up with.
Consider naming the book after the main character.Many novels simply go with the name of the main character. Think of titles that mention the main character of the book, or a group of characters. This tends to be especially true of books driven by one main character. For example:
- Jude the Obscure
- Anne of Green Gables
- Harry Potter
- The Hobbit
- Percy Jackson
Use the setting to make a title.This can be a good choice if the setting is a key part of your work, or if it's an unusual setting that attracts attention. For example:
- Little House on the Prairie
- Through the Looking Glass
- The Jungle Book
- 50,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Wuthering Heights
Consider poetic or mysterious names.Your title can address the book's themes or inspiration rather than the exact content. Mysterious titles intrigue readers who are looking for something poetic or unusual. For example:
- The Shadow of the Wind
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Balance mystery and clarity.Just like book covers, book titles need to give enough information about the book's subject without giving away too much, in order to make the reader curious. The way the author works with these two elements - clarity and mystery - really depends on the type of book. For non-fiction, clarity is more important (especially for books that focus on a very specific topic). For fiction, mystery is more important.
Draw people in with a short, punchy title.This is a popular approach for nonfiction books. The title should give the reader an idea of the book's topic, but it doesn't need to be an exact description. For example:
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
- How Not to be Wrong
- Good to Great
- Made to Stick
Appeal to readers that have problems that can relate to the novel.Think of titles that relate to common life experiences, especially ones that promise solutions to the reader's problems. Books with these titles range from self-help books to literary novels. For example:
- How to Get Happy
- The Awkward Age
- The Dangerous Book for Girls
- If necessary, use a subtitle to expand and clarify any misconception. The titleHow to Be a Manmay draw a different reader thanHow to Be a Man: A Memoir of the Rocky Mountains, versusHow to Be a Man: The Autobiography of a Trans PersonorHow to be a Man: A Study of Gender, Adolescence, and Media in 1950's America.
Look at other book titles in similar genres.Browse book titles online or in bookstores and libraries.
- Do not copy an existing title, but good titles spark ideas for other good titles.
- Identify what appeals to you about the title, and brainstorm ideas for your book with similar characteristics.
- Be original. Your book's title has to compete with many other similar novels, so have a title that will stand out from the crowd.
- Titles are not protected by copyright, at least in the United States, but unique phrases may be trademarked.You are probably safe if you go with a well-known phrase, but you still risk confusion at the bookstore.
Consider come up with titles written in other codes.In some cases, a unique title can be used for
- For example, readers who are interested and generally proficient in mathematics may be drawn to a book with a mathematical expression. Example:4-1=0
- Try a foreign language. Books with a title in a non-English title can help give your title an international feel. Or, may tie into a character, place, idea, or event that may not be well described by the English language.
- Keep your audience in mind. If you are writing for people interested and knowledgeable in astrophysics, this will likely be a very different target group than that of a Christian romance novel.
- Avoid confusing titles. There is a fine line between "mysterious" and "confusing".
- If your title is hard to spell, it may be difficult for potential buyers to find your book online or in bookstores.
- Titles in non-English languages may be confusing. To some, it can be hard to remember, spell, or be viewed as overly scholarly. Some words, phrases, or the like may be relatively well understood by the public at large ("deja vu", "et cetera", "hasta la vista") but be careful of the usage of these. In general, it is better to translate a title if possible.
Aim for a large number of titles.Use all of the techniques above, until you have 25 possible titles or even 50! If the titles are not good, they can spark more ideas and discussions.
- You can combine more than one of the above techniques. For example,Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secretsmentions both a character and a setting, and foreshadows the climax of the novel.
Narrow it down.Go through your list of ideas and pull out ten favorites. Follow the steps below to evaluate each title. Examine each title. If there is no clear winner, narrow it down to your favorite four or five and repeat the process.
Critique your title.Review the title with your editor, publisher, or a friend whose judgment and scrutiny you can trust. Would it attract the attention of people who would enjoy your work? Does it make sense? Is it memorable? Does it relate to the contents of your book?
Say your title out loud.How does it sound? Does it have good flow and rhythm, making it easy and pleasant to say? If the title sounds strange, or is difficult to say, clumsy or just somehow not right this is likely an indication that this is not a good title.
Stay concise.Keep your title as short as possible, no longer than a few words. Long titles are difficult to remember, and rarely reach out and grab a passing reader.
- If you think more detail, is necessary, attach a subtitle. For example, the cover ofWild Swansshows off the short, punchy title, and adds the informative subtitleThree Daughters of Chinain much smaller text.
If you are involved in cover art, try sketching a cover for your book.Authors may or may not have any involvement with cover art. But if you do, many find a little visualization helps. Sketch a simple book cover just to get an idea of the title's impression. Play with different arrangements of the title and your name. Does it pop out at you from the shelf? Is there a drawing that would work particularly well with the title?
- Be careful of being overly hung up on details at this point.
- If you have an illustrator to do this part, keep in mind he or she will be working with the graphic elements. Your title might look perfect with the right font, or a clever design.
- Depending on your publisher, you may or may not have input on the design of the cover anyway.
QuestionDoes the title of the book have to be related to something in the book?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn most cases this would be a good idea, so yes. You want the title to tell the reader slightly what it's about, without spoiling it. It can be the setting, a character's name many things. Try to come up with different titles relating to it and pick your favourite.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do when I want to make a cover?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLook at what the story is about. When you have a love story, it is likely that you show that somewhere on the cover. There are also different styles of covers -- there are the ones that have a picture on them and drawn or computer-made covers. It is totally up to you, but make sure that if you use pictures, that they are entirely your property.Thanks!
QuestionIs it okay to make a title while writing my book?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSure, you can come up with your title at any point - before, during, or after writing the book.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I choose between two good book titles?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThink about which title suits the plot of your book better. If you still can't decide, ask a friend which one they prefer.Thanks!
QuestionCan I add numbers in my sequel, like 'xxx 2'? I've never seen a book with numbers in its title before.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost people wouldn't, but it's your book and you can do it if you want to. However, it's a little less lazy and more elegant to create a new title or subtitle for the sequel instead of tacking on a number.Thanks!
QuestionI want to make a book about a man who is "evil", but it has to be a mystery. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry mentioning the setting or say something mysterious. The reader will, for example, immediately be able to figure out his "evil-ness" if the title mentions that, but the setting will not be too revealing. For example: "The deadly marshes of Cottington".Thanks!
QuestionI'm 10, the article is TL; DR, can you please shorten the idea for me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn a simpler way: Don't make long or confusing titles. If you want to make a fiction book, have a mysterious title, but not with non-fiction. You can also put the character's name as a title. Try not to make boring names and make the names pop out.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I find a non-crowded city or state to write a book? I want to be away from people.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOklahoma is a good place to write in. It's not as crowded as LA but it does have people. And Van Buren and Ft Smith, Arkansas are great towns.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I write a better book title?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhat you must do is brainstorm. For example, the first thing that pops to mind, but try to stay on topic with the book. Make sure the text is relevant. Once you get your title, take some of the tips in the article such as searching to make sure it won't be confused with another.Thanks!
QuestionI'm writing a book about a time machine malfunctioning and going into a Utopian society. Any good story titles about that?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSome titles could be Malice in Wonderland, Best Malfunction Ever; Paradice Found.Thanks!
Would it be a good idea to use a book name generator website as a frame of reference for a title?
My story is about a Superhero in training girl and her friends. What should my book title be?
To come up with a title for a book, finish writing it first before worrying about it because everything about the book is clearer in the end. Then, ask a friend or editor to join a brainstorming session where you can write down ideas and discuss them. Alternatively, ask each person involved in the brainstorm to consider the book's main purpose before writing down their ideas. If you have favorite lines or phrases in the text, note them as potential titles. Finally, narrow down your options, then say each one out loud to test it out.
- Once you've decided on a title, search for it online to make sure it won't be confused with another book.
- As a final test, imagine reading your own obituary. Is this the book title you'd want mentioned?
- Biography and memoir titles are often a little oblique, mentioning the subject's name but giving an unusual glimpse of the subject's life.
- Hold your brainstorm just before you sleep. People tend to be more creative at this time, and if you're lucky, this effort will provoke dreams which can lead you to more ideas.
- Try to come up with a title for your book that, if someone else wrote the book, you would read.
- Finish writing the book before coming up with a title. Read the book over and pick out important details that are part of the story. If needed keep a journal and pen with you so if you have an idea, write it down. Then take the ideas and see which one is a good fit to the story.
- Pick a character, or just use the book as whole, and ask a friend (or anyone who's read the whole book) what they think of in direct relation to it. Compare it with your own thoughts. Maybe it will become a title, or at the very least spark a thought path which leads to your title.
- If you're really stuck on a book title, think about what inspired you and go from there.
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