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What’s in a name?

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Recently my publisher and I went on the hunt for a perfect title for a sweet romance novella…and it nearly ended in tears, ropes, and eye bleach.

This is the first title I’ve really changed after submission, and while the original title was good…it was also a bondage title…several times over.  Oops. We thought it’d be easy to find something else, but we were so very wrong. *shudders* I’d suggest a title, she’d tell me exactly what deviancy or fetish I was implying per the other books with that name. Title after title got shot down. You have no idea. Then, strangely enough, my husband and my friend, Jay, suggested the same title at the same time. It was creeeeeeeepy.  And the funny thing? The new title changed a single letter in the old title. And BOOM no bondage implied!

I know other writers struggle with titles and, in my opinion, a good title is almost as crucial as the blurb or the cover. When I was having a hard time with the title of one book–I can’t even remember which–someone on Twitter suggested that most titles can be found in the book itself–in a line of dialogue or just cleverly capturing of a situation. If I’m retitling something, I’ll search through a book for it.

Some people like to keep it short with their titles, and they don’t mind if it’s been used before. If I were to tell you that I liked the book “Gone”…I can almost guarantee it’s not the book you’re thinking of. You can go ahead and try to guess the author, though. Go for it. I dare you. In fact, I can also tell you that I didn’t like the book “Gone.” So, how is that for weirdness? Wait, though, I accidentally got the book “Gone” when I meant to get the book “Gone” in an ebay auction.  (We’re up to three Gone books now, by the way.)

Other frequently used titles that come to mind: Wake, Fallen, Kept, The Best Man, Collide, Breathless, Heartless, The Boy Next Door, Shiver, Swept Away and, finally, this one surprised me, but I’ve got two in my Kindle: Anathema. (I know, right?) I’m sure you know more. *stares* Do you? Fess up.

I remember about two years ago on Twitter, I was reading an #AskAgent thread and one of the agents shouted, “Authors, stop titling books Twilight! That ship has sailed! Just stop it already!” My shock wasn’t at her going all mental (that’s just good clean Twitter fun) but that some authors were still using that title.

I don’t like to have a used title, though. I typically go to Amazon and search for the title first thing. If more than one pops up, I drop it. If one pops up and it’s recent, I drop it. If one pops up and it’s erotica, I drop it. (By the way, I have a shelved WIP from three years ago titled “Shades of Grey.”) (LOLOLOLOL. Yeah, that’ll get changed if I ever pick it up.) But that’s me. And I like to feel like a maverick in the way of titling.

Finally, I usually run the title by a few friends or family and make sure it works for them.

Oh, and, typically, I do this before I write the book or while I’m writing the first chapter. I don’t feel right starting a book without a title page or saving it without the title name. I do sometimes go back and change the title, but I need a title on that title page to get going.

To end, if you’re an author and you just can’t seem to find a title, check out these random title generators:

Less Random and Possibly Useful

Really Random and Sometimes Racy

Kittens Are Delicious But Go Straight To Your Thighs–was the first title this one gave me

Oh, wait, you’re in a genre?  How silly of me–you’ll want something genre-specific:

Random Fantasy Title Generator

Gothic Romance Title Generator

How about a title for your Western Novel? 

How about for your Sci-fi?

Wait, you’ve got a Category Romance just itching for a name? Okay, here you go: Random Romance Title Generator.

Did you find a title or have a ridiculous one to share? That’s what the comments are there for, and they’re lonely and sad and unloved.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Frosted was titled Frosted from the first line…and if you haven’t read it, you really should. Right now. ; )

3 Responses so far.

  1. After reading this last night, I had to come by and give it a go. The generators did not disappoint! These are the gems they spewed:
    – Really Random and Sometimes Racy: Wife of the Soaring
    – Fantasy: The Madhouse of the Kitty
    – Sci Fi: Altered Mammoth Feast
    – Western: The Beginning of the Happiest Angels

    I mean, come on. The Madhouse of the Kitty? Somebody has to write that, they just have to!

  2. Abbe Hoggan says:

    One title I’ve noticed a lot is Shattered. I saw an online contest recently that had two entries with that name, and Amazon shows at least eight. And that’s just in books. There are also movies and songs.

    When I get an idea for a title, I always check Amazon. Often, when I think I’m being clever, somebody else has been clever before me. One or maybe two others isn’t such a big deal, if they aren’t too recent or too well known. But I really prefer something more original.

    • I’m seeing a ton of repeat New Adult titles like that because the NA genre tends to lend towards shorter titles…often just one word. In my Kindle library, I’ve got a good dozen repeats. (I have a huge Kindle library because I share it with family.) The latest one is Frisky Business. I’ve got two of those.

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