Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Titles



Every year, thousands of books are published.

According to a study on consumer behaviour, a potential buyer holds a book in his hands for approximately 3 to 5 seconds. So your title has about 5 seconds to make an impression.

So what makes a great title? The basic rule says that it should be simple, catchy and memorable. A title such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not really simple, but it is certainly catchy... with regards to it being memorable... *shrugs* but this book is regarded as “an American classic that defined a generation” and the 2003 edition of the book says "over 2 million copies sold"

Here is an opinion, which I tend to agree with, on what makes a memorable title: “It’s something that combines the familiar and the unfamiliar in a way that is both visceral and verbally stimulating. Take, for example, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — a great title, as it combines these various elements flawlessly. It offers a striking image and has great rhythm.”

Then you get book titles that are an entertainment in themselves. Never mind the content.  Consider this title: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. Phew! This conjures all sorts of images. Actually, this is a playful and practical grammar handbook  that addresses classic questions of English usage with wit and the blackest of humour.

Some of the world’s most famous books with great titles include: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and Lord Of The Flies

As a writer, do you find it difficult to give a title to your book? How do you go about doing this? What is your favourite book title of all time?

15 comments:

Jennifer Chandler said...

Titles are always a bugbear for me. Many times they just come to me and I love them. I jot them down and hope they'll serve the work long after I type "The End". Other times they are elusive.

My writing mentor used to get so aggravated at me because I wouldn't name a book first. She said it was like having a child without a name. But I can't help it! Sometimes I get the story first, not the title :)

Jen

cifar shayar said...

helpful suggestions,

I am blogging at
The Other Side for A to Z challenge

cleemckenzie said...

Sometimes the title is just right and it's there before I start the book. Other times I'm tearing my hair out trying to find a title that will do what you've just posted about.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Usually a title comes to me before I complete a book but my publisher has helped me with suggestions. Titles can be important for catching that first interest.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Can't tell you how often I first choose a book because of its title, then later wonder what the title had to do with the book. My first big impression was Bleeding Heart by the great Marilyn French. The Stone Angel by Margaret Lawrence, It's why I chose Broken But Not Dead. I thought it would attract a potential reader.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I have gotten into the habit lately that if a book has Saga, Trilogy, Series, Chronicles or Epic in the title, I automatically skip it. Blah Blah, First Volume in the Blah Blah Blah Chronicles... Nope. Sounds like you want a series-long commitment from your readers before they start reading :D

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
Multicolored Diary - Tales of colors
MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

Birgit said...

I think coming up with a title is one of the most difficult. For a novel-"To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Call of the Wild". For my non fiction-"Inside Oscar" and film stars in general and the movies

Christine Rains said...

I find it immensely difficult to title my stories. Thankfully I have clever CPs and a great writing group to help. I don't know if I have a favorite title of all time, but ones like The Ocean at the End of the Lane and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stand out for me.

G. B. Miller said...

I find it very difficult. On my debut book, I thought the title was a great tongue in cheek/compliment to the story (Line 21) but alas, no one got it/understood it. Once the rights reversion goes through in the summer, I'll definitely be republishing with a title that makes more sense.

Right now, I'm having a problem coming up with a title for a finished novella. The block has going on for about a year now with no end in sight.

A-Z Challenge at Father Nature's Corner

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

For me, persistence pays off. I sat in front of my computer for two hours last night determined to come up with a good name for my new series. I typically search the potential name on amazon and goodreads. I want my titles to be unique. I found the perfect one, just when I was about to give up for the night.

Raquel Somatra said...

I've always loved creating titles. My current title for my WIP is pretty kick-butt if I do say so myself. ;) As for favorite title... Women Who Run With the Wolves. Also my favorite book :D

Kristin said...

Sometimes I can think up a good title. Sometimes they are clunky.

Denise Covey said...

When i'm browsing bookstores, I go Title, Cover, Blurb, Opening lines, but I also read about the author.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle .. I look for subject and type of book - usually I'm not looking for something specific .. but just to see what's around and I'll buy on impulse .. but they'll be historical, or have a reference base style, or biographical ...

Title is important too - but as Denise says .. the rest are important to the purchase .. cheers Hilary

djinnia said...

I wait til the story is over before titling something. I have difficulty otherwise.

My friend has the best title. It's: no title needed

It s a play on what the mc is.