Tag s | Titles

Get Attention with the Right Title

 When an agent or her assistant tackles the email slush pile, she sees one subject line after another written by authors vying for attention. Some lines describe the book category, while others make a claim about the author himself. But most include the book’s title. I tell authors not to get attached to titles because all too often, they are changed somewhere between the time the editor takes the proposal to Committee and when the book goes to press. However, putting thought into the title at the proposal stage will help orient us to the book and a really catchy title might excite us enough to open your email proposal right away. Who wants to read a boring book?

Consider these fiction titles:

Rodeo Sweetheart by Besty St. Amant

The Guy I’m Not Dating by Trish Perry

Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum

These titles made me smile and want to learn more.

Non-fiction books work a little differently. Often title is simply descriptive and helps the reader learn right away the benefit the book offers. Some start with a catchy phrase, then use a subtitle to explain the book:

Real: Owning Your Christian Faith by Daniel Darling.

Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World by Kathi Macias.

Attitude-inize: 10 Secrets to a Positive You by Jan Coates

Notice that the first phrase is a quick reference point for the book’s title, but on its own, doesn’t tell us much about the book. However, the subtitle elaborates on the felt need the book serves.

Another word of advice I give my authors: To avoid confusion, do a search  to see if your title has been used recently. Use the Amazon.com database for a comprehensive history. Then use ChristianBook.com to see what is currently available in the Christian market. In the past, a title used over five years ago was fine to revisit using the same the title (Within reason, of course. Please don’t use something like Harry Potter Got Left Behind).  However, with ebooks never going “out of print,” I have changed my advice. For example, Amazon Publishing recently purchased Avalon Books’s 3000-strong backlist,  meaning many titles will be re-released in ebook form. I’d encourage every author to be as creative and original as possible. Using the heroine’s name in the title often helps for romance, and the hero’s name might save the day for adventure novels.

Having trouble? Ask your critique partners. Poke around the Internet for ideas. Most of all, have fun!

For further help, read Karen Ball’s great three part series on “Finding the Perfect Title.” Part one. Part two. Part three.

Your Turn:

What is your favorite book title? This may or may not be the title of your favorite book.

I can never remember the title, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, by Paul Zindel although I must be alone since this is a famous book and movie. What titles do you have trouble remembering? (Search key words on Amazon to remember!)

Here is a fun list: 276 Best Book Titles. Which titles grab your attention?

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Silly Saturday


Today is International Bacon Day! Celebrate the Bacon!

Apparently this past week, according to the LA Times, a rapidly trending Twitter “game” has been to replace movie titles or book titles with the word Bacon. For example:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Bacon
Pretty in Bacon
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Bacon
Eat, Bacon, Love
The Lord of the Bacon

So I thought, “Why not apply the same to bestselling Christian titles?” And came up with the following list:

The Bacon Driven Life
The Five Bacon Languages
Crazy Bacon
Bacon Wins
Redeeming Bacon
21 Immutable Laws of Bacon
Bacon is for Real
90 Minutes with Bacon
Same Kind of Bacon as Me

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En-TITLE-ment: Finding the Perfect Title (Part Three)

Remember that old adage for retailers, “The customer is always right?” Well, for novelists seeking the perfect title, that should be “The audience is always right.”

Tip #4: Remember Your Audience! Novelists do a great job, on the whole, of keeping their audience in mind as they write. But sometimes when trying to come up with a catchy title or cover image, they go a bit far afield of that audience. The result is that readers who would love the story won’t even pick it up. And those who do pick it up may not find what they expected inside. So as you work on your title, remember who your reader is. For example:

Age range. If your book would appeal mostly to Christian women in their 40s and up, then don’t use a trendy title that will appeal to the twenty-somethings. And watch out for technology phrases. Unless your certain your core audience is familiar with both the meaning and use of something technologial, steer clear. For example, using RAM, bits, bytes, and bauds as words in your title may work for a younger audience, or one that’s technologically savvy, but for older readers? Odds are good you’d lose ‘em. (Or have them writing you letters scolding you for misspelling bites.)
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En-TITLE-ment: Finding the Perfect Title (Part Two)

First, here are the answers to last week’s questions:

Name That Tone!

The Boneman’s Daughters–chilling

Redeeming Love–romantic

The Shunning–Amish

The Riddlemaster of Hed–fantastical

A Vase of Mistaken Identity–whimsical

Without a Trace–suspensful

Three Weddings & a Giggle—humourous and romantic

Name that Genre!

Kidnapped–adventure

Sister Chicks Down Under—witty women’s fiction

The Lightkeeper’s Ball—historical romance

Deadly Pursuit—suspense

The Twelfth Prophecy, A.D. Chronicles—biblical fiction

Okay, now, on to Tip #3 for crafting strong titles. As USA channel puts it, Characters welcome! Ever and always, Keep Your Characters in Mind. Sometimes the best title for a book focuses on the character.

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En-TITLE-ment: Finding the Perfect Title (Part One)

One of the most difficult—and important—things we did when I worked in the publishing house was come up with titles for our authors’ novels. Sometimes it was a breeze, either because the author’s title was spot-on or because the story lent itself organically to a certain title. But more often than not, it was a long process of back-and-forth with the author, marketing, and sales. So how can you, the author, develop a title that works well? Give the following tips a try.

1. Tone. Be sure your title reflects the tone of your story accurately.

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