Have you found that perfect name yet? The one that encompasses all of the symbolism and emotion and themes and plot of that book that took you months and months and even years to write?
No? Well, I’m gonna try and help you out with that.
Sorry about being so absent last week… It feels like forever since I sat down to write a blog post! (even though it’s been less than a week…) Midterm week and end of the quarter was my main focus… But this week is Spring Break, so you will get a post every day this week, guaranteed!
So let’s dive into this book title problem. Some books are great from the beginning. You sit down with a name in mind and characters that just jump onto the page and descriptions that you can pull from thin air. Some books start out with the perfect name already in place and you wouldn’t even think about changing it.
And then there are the other books. The ones that are a struggle from the beginning. It’s a story you still need to tell, but there’s still a good amount of work that goes into every single word. And the title? Ha. Those are sold separately.
I personally tend to find myself writing books that fit into the first category, but others… well.
Here’s how you’re going to figure out your title: three easy steps.
Firstly, you’re going to make a list. You want to do this when you are done with at least your first draft, but more likely it will be when you start to market the book. For example, I started marketing Holding My Breath the day before I even started writing it… So you’re going to make a list. Key words, themes, basic plot points, phrases, etc. When I was trying to title HMB, I was looking for a name other than Holding My Breath (Which was originally just a nickname for the book until I could come up with something better). I made a list of keywords and symbolic concepts and themes. Then I just went to town.
There were hundreds of ideas with this method. Hundreds. I even got people to help me think of some other titles… But I ended up back at Holding My Breath because, to be completely honest, it has everything that the book needed. If you read it, you’ll just laugh at the double meanings behind that title.
Use the list to come up with tons of different titles. Get people to help you, even if they don’t know anything about the book. I told one of my close friends that the story has something to do with water and she came back with tons of amazing ideas, from “Under the Surface” to “Below Zero.” Those are just a few I can remember, but the ones that made it into my final 10 were even better. Just gather a ton of ideas, even if you know you aren’t going to like them.
Here’s the second step: Go to google. Search up every one of the titles. Mark out any that are already huge books or movies or games. Anything huge that is going to mask your story in the search engine when you finally start marketing. Even now, when you google Holding My Breath my poll for the title of the book comes up on the front page. Now, there are hundreds of books out there, so if there is one out there that has the same title, don’t sweat. Try to pick another one, and if that other book is on blogs and websites everywhere, you should mark it off the list.
Okay, here’s the last one: Narrow down the list. You started with nothing, but now you’re going to find that you have too many choices. You want a title that is catchy, fits the story, and appeals to your target audience. Start by crossing out the absolute never going to happen‘s.
With HMB, I narrowed it down with my target audience. I asked people which of two titles they would read and did that all the way until I had brought it down to a reasonable number. Then I crossed out the ones that I just didn’t like or they didn’t match the story, and then put the remaining five into a poll online.
And you want to guess which title got the most votes?
That’s right. The one that I had been calling the book for a year before I wrote it just so I would have something to put as a title to my Word Document and on my outlines. It’s funny how things work out.
And if you still aren’t happy about the name of your story? Do it all over again. Instead of looking at one theme or one side of the symbolism, try turning it around. Take another look at the central idea. Or even try taking one little, yet significant, detail from the story and adding that to your list.
Here’s today’s challenge for you: Get that perfect title!
Don’t give up. Try again and again until you find it. Who knows… you might not even need my advice. It might just come to you when you least expect it…
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And welcome! I know I recently got a horde of new readers, so here’s a little highlight that you may have missed: I’m hosting a beta reading for my next book, and if you participate you will get to read it for free before it’s out and get your name in the acknowledgements (among other things)! For more information about the beta reading, how to sign up, and what it is, click here.
Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!