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For Writers: Choosing a Good Title

Titles

Today’s writer topic came out of our flash fiction contest. Angel suggested we talk about this.

Writing a book, novella, or short story is one thing. OK, it’s the main thing. But there are a lot of other factors that go into actually selling the damned thing. Like the blurb, the cover, the pricing, the release date, and the title.

A good title can convey what the book’s about almost instantly to the reader. it can tease them or enchant them. It can help to sell your book.

A bad title can make your book a laughingstock, or worse.

So how do you go about choosing a title that best represents what’s inside the covers? How do you know if a title is good or bad? And how do you find out it it has been used to death before?

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2 thoughts on “For Writers: Choosing a Good Title”

  1. For what it’s worth, I never “choose” a title, i.e., sit down and figure out what the title should be, based on the content, or consult others, or come up with a list of alternatives and decide.

    The title is an integral part of the decision to write a particular idea. Everything I’ve published so far was started with the title, the opening lines, and either the actual ending lines or a certainty of the “feeling” the story was going to end with, all in place before the actual writing began.

    There have been only two occasions when the title changed. With one, the title had been there since the first draft 15 years ago. I hired a marvelous artist to paint the cover for me, and as soon as I saw the men, I knew there was a better title and what it was. And at the risk of being banned for self-promotion, a writing group I belong to had a post the triggered the title Tattooed Wolf but as I got into the story, a better one came to me: Tattooed Wolf, Painted Dragon. If I’m lucky it’ll be done a year (probably more) away, and by then this “promotion” will be forgotten.

    But my point is, the development of the story made my realize Wolf-Dragon worked better, without my having to do an intentional analysis. The rest of the stuff in progress is far enough along that I know the titles are right (IMNHO), and changes are therefore unlikely.

    Just my USD .02.

    Eric

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