Over the past few weeks, we’ve received questions about how to title fiction, so let’s look at that challenge.
I know that creating titles for their ebooks worries some authors, but I rarely think about them. As a working title for fiction, I use the name of the main character. For nonfiction, I use the problem the ebook intends solving.
By the time I get around to thinking about publishing, I have a sense of what I want on the ebook’s cover, and the emotion I want to arouse in readers. That gives me some ideas for the title.
Fiction, and nonfiction too, is all about emotion
Choose the emotion you want to convey in your cover, and in your title. Over the years, I’ve chosen many hundreds of titles for novels and short stories. I’ve always found it easy. If you focus on emotion, you’ll find choosing titles easy too.
Let’s look at some tips which will help you to choose a title.
Tips to help you to choose a title for fiction
1. Review titles in your genre
Check out your genre’s titles on Amazon. For example, here’s the Top 100 Best Sellers in Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.
Currently, the top two bestsellers are: The Einstein Prophecy and The Girl on the Train: A Novel.
You could title your own mystery: The (something or other.)
2. Test your titles
Test your title on people who read your genre. An author contacted me last week who said that readers were complaining that his science fiction novel sounded like a romance. It happens. You can choose a title which seems perfect to you, but which gives readers the wrong idea.
Don’t obsess. If this happens to you, you’ve learned a valuable lesson. You can revise your novel, and retitle it. However, only do this if you haven’t made a lot of sales. Once you’ve made sales, and have reviews, keep your title as it is.
3. Make lists of titles, and choose one
This is best advice I can give you. Check out titles of other novels and serials in your genre, then brainstorm a list of 25 titles.
Pick five. Test these out on people. Give your beta testers a short summary — no longer than a paragraph — of what your fiction is about.
This feedback will help you to create more titles.
Go with the title which seems appropriate to you. However, do remember: there’s no way you can do this wrong. It’s your fiction. Title it whatever you like. 😉
4. The title is just the title: readers don’t buy on titles
Titles can’t be copyrighted. They’re too short. That said, I advise against calling your fiction: Gone With The Wind. 🙂
When you decide that you’ve found your perfect title, do a quick Google search, with the title in quotes. If several other authors have used your title, or the title appears as the name of a website, don’t use it. The website owners will likely be more litigious than the authors who are using your title. If the website is a business, they’re likely to have trademarks, and so on.
It’s extremely likely that your title has been used. Here’s how to get around that. Add some words. Add a character name, or a verb, or adjective.
Keep in mind that the “perfect” title doesn’t exist. Readers don’t buy on titles. What matters is your fiction. Focus more on what’s in your ebook, rather than on the cover. 😉
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