Ask the Editor: How Do I Choose A Title for My Book?

Filed in Ask the Editor by on March 1, 2013 1 Comment

Book Title | Xulon PressSo you’ve selected the perfect topic for your book and are ready to get started. You’re probably thinking that your next step should be to write the title, correct? After all, it’s easier to write five words than five chapters! How do you sum up your literary masterpiece in a few short words? Have no fear: the second article in our new “Ask the Editor” series is here to help!

Titling a book can be exciting, in the same way a proud new parent is excited when selecting the nomenclature for their firstborn child, but also exasperatingly daunting because unlike you, a new parent doesn’t have to put multiple printed copies of their new project on a shelf while hoping the name is clever enough to entice readers to buy it. Relax! We’ve got your title queries covered:

1) Throw Out Your Timeline. Your title doesn’t have to come first; in fact, it might turn out better if it doesn’t! One Xulon Press editor said it best when she opined, “Your book should determine your title; your title should never determine your book.”  Start writing, and watch for a sentence in the manuscript with impact. If your book ends with, “As Jack stepped wearily off the Greyhound bus, he caught a glimpse of the snowy-white dunes he’d been searching for. Finally, he was at home in Capistrano.” Guess what? The Snow Dunes of Capistrano sounds like a pretty good title to me!

2) What is the Tone of Your Book? If it’s funny, a serious title won’t match up. Be witty. A historical novel? Play around with old-world words like inheritance, legend, clan, and centennial. Self-help? Start with a list of the words which describe the reader’s end goal: fearless, blooming, unbroken.

3) Be Specific. Be Original. Try to come up with verbs, nouns and adjectives that are specific and original! Naming a Christian-genre book The Power Behind the Cross or For Such a Time as This will not do much to help it stand out from the scores of other Christian manuscripts, and it tells the reader very little about the actual contents of your book. What about The Disruptive Call to Holiness instead? Or Esther: The Queen Behind the Gilded Veil?

4) Google It! Once you’ve jotted down a couple of ideas, get on websites like Google and Amazon and search for your title. If you’ll be making social media pages to support your book, check Facebook and Twitter too. Is the name already taken? Time to keep brainstorming!

5) Do You Need a Subtitle? If your heart is set on a short title, then the subtitle may help rescue your book from obscurity. Use as few words as possible, and make it catchy! Personally, I’m a sucker for alliteration (when all the words start with the same letter), like Caribbean Revival: How Salvation and Sanctification Salvaged an Island.

Last week, we polled you to find out if you wanted an “Ask the Editor” blog on titles or on outlines, and there was a tie! Next Thursday, we’ll address your outlining concerns, but first take a moment to vote. Would you like to hear about fiction or non-fiction outlines? “Like” the page and vote here:

http://www.facebook.com/questions/580364948648294

Happy writing!

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About the Author ()

Brittnee Newman, Marketing & Communications Strategist for Xulon Press, has been a blogger, freelance journalist and editor for just over half a decade. She joined Xulon Press as an editor in 2012, and now supports the company within the Marketing Department. Follow her on Twitter at @XulonBrittnee.

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