Apr 23, 2011

T is for Titles

What's in a name? Can the title of your novel really decide how successful it is?

There's lots of things to consider when choosing a title.I've been doing some research and here are some tips I've unearthed from people in the know.

A novel title should:

  • Express the genre. A Shallow Grave would suit a thriller or horror story, but I don't think it would be a great title for a pet memoir.
  • Be Concise. Convoluted titles will only bore the reader. The Night We All Went into the Woods after Sarah Jane went Missing and Came Across a Scary Psychopath with an Axe might cover all the aspects of your story, but your book browser will probably put it down before getting halfway through the title.
  • Be Original. Calling your book Silence of the Lambs might get you a few accidental purchases, but it won't win you long time readers. You can however rip off cliche's and quotes as titles.
  • Be Funny. Humour is a great way to attract a reader (but only if your novel promises more humour within the narrative). Read this post by McSweeney to see why you must include the word Alchemist in your title.
Of course for every rule, there are plenty that break them, such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Paranormalcy (good read, but I find it so hard to say) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Thinking about genre, I thought I'd try and express Dog Show Detective in different genres (you know, for the fun).
Tail of Love Lost
In Space No One Hears You Bark
Beware the Dognapper's Fangs

Okay, I suck at impromptu titles!

Check out this cool Internet Show on book titles:



  1. For the Love of Mr Pooch (romance)

    The Canine Conundrum (thriller)

    Puppy Love (chick lit)

    Dead Dog Walkies (zombie!)

  2. Yes, titles really make a difference. And it's important to give chapters meaningful titles... It gives the shopper a clue about the contents of the book...


  3. Enjoyed your titles post - and your snappy titles :-)
    Thanks for visiting me, too
    All best

  4. What a cool series! Love the post.

  5. I have title deficiency syndrome. All of mine are lame. I think I need a title doctor.

  6. On top of all of those "rules", I think a title should pique my interest in some way. That's kinda related to "be original", but not quite the same thing.

    I have to work hard at titles, and often go with a working title until something better clicks.

  7. Great post. Notes on a Scandal sounded like a book I wouldn't like, but when I saw the film I wanted to read the book. I ran a few titles past friends to gauge which grabbed them best. :O)

  8. It is true that a proper title attracts customers...good tips!

  9. Titles are so important. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Titles are so hard, but so much fun at the same time.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  11. I'm terrible at titles. I should spend some time brainstorming and coming up with silly ones. That would take the pressure off.

  12. Fun Post! I like Dog Show Detective - it tells us that mystery and dogs are involved.

  13. I'm soooo bad at titles. If I ever see an agent interview that says "I don't care too much about the title, it's definitely changeable" I'm querying them NOW.

  14. I have to admit that if I don't know anything about the author, I will choose a book based only on the title. It might be incredible but if the title doesn't get me, well, you know.

    I stink at titles too (mine are not catchy) so I may have to sweet talk my creative hubby into some ideas.

  15. I do like the title Tail of Lost Love. Titles definitely make a reader stop and take notice. Great post!

  16. great advice =)
    titles are tough!
    happy t day and happy easter!

  17. Title are neat but I confess I choose a book by its cover. Happy Easter. :)

  18. I try not to sweat too much about a title as if I find an agent, they'll no doubt change it anyway ;)

    Great to meet you through the A-Z challenge.

    Look forward to following your posts and writing.

    warm wishes