3 Tips for Choosing Your Book Title
The title of your book is much more important than you may think—it can determine the success of your work. You want your book title to stand out for the right reasons, to fit your genre without being generic, and to be true to your story without being obvious. You want a title that conveys the right message about your book while piquing a prospective reader’s interest and inviting them to pick up the book and check out the blurb on the back cover.
Choosing a book title isn’t easy or straightforward, and every writer will find their title in a different way. Despite there being no hard and fast rules on picking the perfect title for your book, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks that can help you in the process. If you already have a title in mind and want to see how it will look on the cover, start working with a professional cover designer today.
1. Be flexible
Some writers like having a title from the very start as a way to guide the story, while some wait until their manuscript is finished to think of a fitting title. Others will use provisional titles and change them whenever the story outgrows them until they land on the right one. Title ideas may come to you as you write, even if you already have one you like—stay receptive to new ideas. As we said, there are no set rules—you have to do what works for you. Just make sure your title isn’t hindering your process or your progress. Your title can change, so focus first on writing a great manuscript.
A lot changes in a story from the moment a writer begins to outline to the moment the final draft is completed. The direction or even the themes of the story might change drastically as you work through your drafts, and you don’t want a title to hold you back from letting the story take you where it needs to go; this is why you should be flexible about changing your title if the story demands it. If you really like the title but it doesn’t fit your story anymore, just file it away in your mind—maybe you can use it for a future book instead.
Also, in case you’re pursuing traditional publishing, keep in mind that your publisher will have to sign off on your book title, and it might not agree with the one you’ve chosen. So, although you should still try to pick the perfect book title, don’t get too attached. Unfortunately, in traditional publishing, you may not like the title your publisher chooses, but there’s little you can do about that.
2. Consider your theme and genre
The themes in your book—from sentiments like love, courage, and redemption to more practical topics like food, adventure, and beauty—can often reveal your title. Think about the heart of your story, the message, and the feelings it evokes. What is it really about, deep down? If you’re having a hard time zeroing in on a theme that speaks to your story, go through your dialogue—you might discover that something one of your characters said makes the perfect book title. If you’re seriously struggling to come up with something, you can ask friends and family or beta readers for their input. It may also be wise to take a break and relax in the bath or go for a leisurely stroll through the park. Often, the best ideas come to us when we clear our minds.
It’s also crucial to consider the genre of your book when choosing its title. Certain words and symbolism tend to be associated with particular genres—like blood and vampires or swords and fantasy—and you don’t want to mislead your audience. Your book’s title should reflect what a reader will find inside, so think about how the title reads to someone who doesn’t know what the story is about and whether it can be misconstrued as fitting into a completely different genre. Keep in mind that the way you present your title on the cover also plays a huge role. Some titles would work for various genres, and the cover design is how readers are able to categorize your work.
3. Make it original
With millions of books out there in the world, it’s possible that your title has already been used by someone else. Head over to Google and Amazon and type it into the search bar before you commit. If it has been used, consider how long ago that other book was published and how successful it was. Of course, it’s best to have an original title, but if you’re set on one that has already been used, make sure it’s a relatively old book (at least 20 years), especially if it came from a major publisher. Also, if you’ve decided on a title someone else has already used, it can’t be overly specific. You can’t name your book Harry Potter, for example.
You also want to make your title memorable, something that will stick in people’s minds. It doesn’t have to be extravagant—not unless that fits your writing style or theme—but you do want it to be punchy and effective. Consider how easy it will be to find on Google—if it’s just one word or a common phrase, it won’t easily pop up unless you add “book” to the search term. That’s not to say you can’t use a title like that, but it’s another factor to keep in mind. Many writers seek inspiration in music and pop culture; if you’re one of them, just be mindful of copyright infringement, and always consult a lawyer in case you have any doubts.
A title can make or break a book, so take some time to consider the best one for yours, especially if you’re self-publishing. If you’re ready to see how your title will look on your front cover, check out our professional cover design services and start working with an experienced designer today.