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Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Titles...How Do You choose One for Your Book?

Titles of romance books are the first thing a reader sees...just how important is a title?

Can a title influence a potential buyer/reader? I'd say, "Absolutely!" If the title sounds boring, confusing, or just plain stupid, why would anyone want to read your book? Would you buy a book titled, Sorry We are Open...as the sign above mentions. Does it make sense to you?

Does the word "SEX" have to be in the title to entice readers? No. I feel that implying a message/inviting a reader to enter your world of promising romance through a catchy title is so-o-o important.

Some authors don't have the luxury of choosing a title...a publisher does that. You may think, "Okay...the publisher knows how to sell books." So, you accept their choice of title for your book; and perhaps it's an uneasy feeling for you.

I've chosen all my titles. One was a compromise...I'd wanted something different but the publisher felt there were other books out with the same title so we settled on a compromised title. Funny...it's the same book whose cover I had no input on...and the one book that makes me cringe every single time I look at the cover. Did the book "sell"? Yes...but not as many copies as I'd hoped. Perhaps it was the cover; perhaps it was the title. Perhaps it was a combination of both.

I look at the title, cover, then blurb. If the title sounds weird (and it's not a Sci Fi/paranormal/fantasy book), I'll think twice before buying that particular book.

Case in point: I have known one special romance author for years and I have nothing but the highest praise for her as an author and friend. However, I couldn't get motivated enough to buy one of her books. Why? The title.

Pregnesia.

That strange title made me frown; who would name a book that? Not the author. She had no say in the title. Honestly? Someone actually thought "Pregnesia" would intrigue readers and sell books?

Then again, maybe it did do just that...interest enough readers to buy her book. I just couldn't get beyond the strange/weird/ridiculous title.

How about The Pregnant Virgin (is this about the Virgin Mary at Christmas?)? HUH? Does this title make sense...or capture you curiosity? 

Most small publishers are more open to author title suggestions. And, self-publishing authors can do whatever they want.

But please...if you have input in naming your book, give it some quality thought. Name it with something to intrigue/entice readers.

Readers: what do you think about book titles? Do they help you choose a book?
Authors: can you voice your opinion about what your book should be titled? Are you happy with your titles?

http://www.mariannestephens.net
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photo: Flickr: wnstn's photostream

19 comments:

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

I agree Marianne. Finding the perfect title for your book can be difficult and should not be taken lightly. Titles can either make you or break you and you don't want a reader passing up on a great read because the title shed poor light on it. Titles (and covers) should be regarded as "first impressions" and you only get one chance to make one.

Great post, Marianne!

Cara Marsi said...

Titles are very important. Sadly, I'm not good at coming up with titles. Several of my critique partners have come up with my recent titles. A title should represent the book. If you have "The Billionaire Cowboy's Pregnant Virgin Mistress," you'd better have a cowboy billionaire and a good reason why she's a pregnant virgin. My original title for "Logan's Redemption" was "A Temporary Affair." The editor wanted me to change it. I guess the title didn't tell you much. Anyway, I came up with "Logan's Redemption" and am glad she made me change it.

JL Walters said...

Once I chose Carpe Noctum for the title of a romance about an older couple. The title was changed to The Best Medicine. Yes the book sold but I didn't like the title. Still don't.

Tabitha Shay said...

As an author, I've been lucky to choose the titles for all my books. I hope they've been good enough to help sell the books. The first thing that catches my eye is the cover, then the title, then the blurb. They all three have to work for me, unless of course it's an all time favorite author of mine, then I don't care what the cover, blurb or title is...Tabs.

Liz said...

I hate boring titles. or ones that are not indicative of the actual story. I lean towards using 2-words (as you can see from my backlist) and love using real estate terms for the realtor series and beer industry ones for my others.

If I see another book title with the word "Her" and "billionaire" attached I may jump out the nearest window however.

Tory Richards said...

I believe the title is just as important as the book cover. It has to be promising and basically sum up the story in your book, or at the very least give the reader an idea what they can expect. And it should compliment your book cover, too.

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

I have been able to choose all my book titles, thank goodness. A good title is critical, a bad one deadly. One of my stories had the intriguing title of Leonardo di Caprio is a Vampire - it drew people in. I have an upcoming book that I originally titled Kyrie Eleison, after a song I love, but another writer suggested Revelations and I realized she was right and it worked better, so Revelations it is.

A title should go with the cover. It should draw you in, and make you want to learn more.

Julie

jean hart stewart said...

I basically chose all my titles. Rarely am I asked to change one, and then it's because it's too similar to something already out there. My new series, Passionate Pursuits, had to have Pursuit in it that that's been challenging.

Rose Anderson ~ Romance Novelist said...

Wonderful post Marianne. I blogged this recently: When I came up with the title for Hermes Online, the only thought I had in mind was the Greek myth of Hermes delivering messages from the gods vs today when emails magically appear in our inbox. My character Vivienne went to Greece as a student. Greece, Hermes, email, online affair, fate...it seemed to all fit so nice. I went with my unusual choice.

The upshot? I’m signed up for Google Alerts which tells me when my title is mentioned on the internet. In theory that should work, right? To date I’ve never received notice of this book being anywhere, seriously, ANYwhere. However, I do get a DAILY notice of who’s selling Hermes handbags, purses, and clutches online!

Every once in a while someone will ask where the Greek gods are in the story. The gods are there, but it’s not their tale. I find it funny now but initially I was really worried about the title. Now I imagine purse shoppers stumbling upon my Hermes Online and buying it too. If only I'd drawn the parallel on purpose, I might have used it to my advantage! There IS something to be said for branding. Then again, the McDonald family in Scotland lost their right to sell Big Macs after a famous food chain started selling theirs. The Hermes company hasn't come for my book yet. ;)

Rose

Nicole Morgan said...

Hahaha... GREAT POST Marianne.. There have been plenty of times where I've seen a book title and thought, REALLY? That was the BEST you could do? Hahaha... I can't help but laugh at one that stands out in my memory. It was called, "Trucker F_cker".. I'll let you fill in the blanks on that one. LOL

Nina Pierce said...

I love to choose titles and have been very lucky to have picked them all. But when I thought I was being clever I realized the title didn't really tell the reader enough about the book.

I try to be much more descriptive about story and genre when I'm picking titles now.

Harlie Reader said...

As a writer, I picked my title and it stayed. My title was the book.

As a reader, a title says everything. Some of yall have talked about the various "virgin" titles in romance. Unfortunately, those were penned by so many writers in the early days, that they still sell. Sad, I know but look at some of the newest ones from Harlequin Presents (still uses them), Entangled and a lot of self pubbed. Clearly, it doesn't bother me too much.

I'm more of a cover person anyway. Sometimes I have bought books based on the cover alone.

Marika/Harlie

Sandy said...

Yes, I think titles are important, Marianne. I read Pregnesia just because I knew the author and knew inside would be a great story in spite of the title.

I named all of my books, but learned there were many books out there with the same title. Unfortunately, I didn't find out until after my books were released.

From now on, I'm letting my husband come up with the titles. He does a great job. lol

Sandy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elf2060 said...

I tend to pay attention to the author first but occasionally my attention will be caught by a title. I do pay more attention when the title irks me rather than the other way around.

Marie Higgins said...

Some of my titles have come from songs, but only a few - and only because the story fit the song. lol But mostly I think of what my story is about and figure out a title. So like if my characters are pretending to do or be something, then I have to use the word Pretending in the title. I have a Regency romance series and all the titles have the word "Sweetest" in it, mainly to tie the series together, but in each book, the hero or heroine with think the other is the sweetest thing they have ever met. :)

E. Ayers said...

I hate coming up with titles for my books. Then there are the "rules". You should have a short snappy title, one word is best. Or never have a single word title, make it two words. Never have a long title. Well, I've done them all, and I don't think it matters too much.

And I'm with Rose on Google alerts. I get so many for homes for sale on Mariner's Cove Rd, Dr, community, condo,etc. There's a Mariner's Cove high school and when it hits the local paper...It's actually funny.

And I'll agree with Liz about those billionaires with secret babies but those titles sell books and that's why they use them.

Title, cover, blurb. They've got to be great! Unfortunately, they aren't easy. If you get two out of three to work, you're lucky.

M. S. Spencer said...

Definitely agree, Marianne. I've probably spent more time on thinking of a title...AND chapter titles, than on the actual book (jk)(sort of).However, I think both "Sorry We are Open" and "Pregnesia" are intriguing & would get my attention. My 4th book title: Triptych, may not be your cup of tea, but since the story involved 3 sisters, 3 lovers, and 3 spirits, what else could I name it? That's an instance when you understand the title once you start reading the book. Perhaps not the best way to draw them in? Meredith

Jane Toombs said...

I tend to read authors I like, not titles. When I first started writing, many of my titles came to me as I wrote the books. But then I started to write for Harlequin and most of the time, no matter what I called the book, they changed the title. Kensington did, too. Actually once in awhile it was a better title, but not often. Now? Well, the titles still come to me when I'm writing the book and the small pubs are a lot better about ketting me keep them. Do I somwtimes pick up a book because of its title? Sure. So titles do matter.

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