Adite Banerjie | Paromita Goswami | Preethi Venugopala | Reet Singh | Ruchi Singh | Saiswaroopa Iyer | Sudesna Ghosh
T for Titles
Like with covers, it helps if the title gives a first impression of what genre the story, novella or novel is set in. Pick something that is a ‘signal word’ for what kind of tale you’re telling. Examples for romance novels (only a select few) would be: kiss, chance, love, any other words associated with relationships. These signal words can vary from sub-genre to sub-genre. Erotica has other signal words as paranormal romance, just to name two. Popular words to include in romance novel titles are also: billionaire, baby, mate, wedding, shifter, blood, fake… If it fits your sub-genre, mention the setting (city or country) or the type of hero (profession or character) or the one thing that will bring the protagonists together/seems likely to keep them apart at first.
Other genres are just as easy. Crime and mystery favour short titles, sometimes intriguing, at other times deceptively simple. Names are common, such as “XXX’s YYY”. The YA and NA genres are known for their two-word combinations that hint at fantasy and drama, such as “A XXX of YYY” or in the longer version “A XXX of YYY and ZZZ”. One-word titles are popular too, especially in a series of connected books like a trilogy (think “Divergent”).
One tip: Careful with this though, it’s a fine line between being immediately recognizable to fans of the genre and sinking into oblivion among the masses. Find a way to be similar enough to target the right readership but distinct enough to stick out and maybe even be remembered. Which leads me to a second factor…
An author is also a brand. Stick to titles that ‘ring a bell’ and become part of your author brand. This is even more important if you write books as part of series. A good example is Mike Wells who uses series names like Lust, Money & Murder and a volume number (1, 2, 3,) as well as subtitles and trilogy titles that offer additional information regarding each book’s plot. That’s an instant hook: Fans of the series will immediately recognize a new release, newbies will be intrigued by the overall classification that hints at a high number of connected books of a certain genre.
It doesn’t have to be that methodical. If you write romance, for example, keep the same style as you should also keep similar covers within a series or genre. With my Romance Round the World series, I choose book titles like Saved in Sri Lanka, Seduced in Spain, XXX in YYY. With my royal romances, I stick to “The Prince’s XXX Bride” and choose different adjectives beginning with S (Special/Stubborn/Surprise/Scandalous). Notice I often rely on alliterations (successive words starting with the same letter) because it flows nicely and because I’ve made it a ‘trademark’ of sorts for my author brand.
Don’t choose book titles that are too long or complicated. People searching for books tend to have a short attention span AND be bludgeoned to death with choices. Something to the point with a unique twist works if you want a book title that sells well. It’s always good to make readers curious, but don’t confuse them with ‘big’ or foreign or made-up words or with titles that differ too much within a series. Curiosity works best with genres like science-fiction and fantasy as well as horror and thrillers. Throw a word or two out there that seem simple but carry a world of hidden meaning, such as “The Sister” or “Room 505” (random examples).
What helps readability is also using a short, attention-grabbing title and an explanatory sub-title which establishes genre (and series connection). It’s often done in romance to point out that a book is e.g. about vampires or a popular trope.
Looking for book title ideas?
- Browse your genre and/or sub-genre on Amazon or a similar store to check out the competition for some ideas for book titles.
- Use book title generators on the internet, which are filled with all kinds of words and create random titles.
- Write the shortest possible synopsis of your book or a blurb and pick the main information or use the main character’s name. How can you transfer this into a good book title?