As my second book starts to take shape, I’m increasingly aware that I haven’t chosen a title yet. Scratch that. I’ve chosen several, none of which seem to quite fit. So, how important is a book title?
Last month I read an article by a leading UK agent who said it was the title and opening of a novel that draws her initial attention. No pressure there then… At a recent book signing a reader informed me the cover art, title and blurb (in that order) makes her decide whether or not to purchase a book by a new author. Hmmm.
I’ve spoken to authors who cannot start a novel without deciding on a title, and others who leave it to the very last minute, allowing the plot to develop, the characters grow, the full extent of the story to mull over in their mind before creating a headline.
An Unfamiliar Murder was my working title for book one. I admit I never intended it to stick. When I asked my agent why he was so keen for me to keep it he said, ‘Because it’s original.’
Maybe there is something in that? Do an Amazon search and you only come up with one An Unfamiliar Murder. Yet, with no copyright in titles, many authors write successful books with similar or same titles. Perhaps I should call my next book 40 Shades of Grey, or 60? It would certainly boost sales!
Some schools of thought argue that you should analyze the story and come up with something short and snappy that sums the novel up and identifies the genre. Online marketing companies suggest, as a new writer, you should check the key words people use to search for a novel in your genre and incorporate these.
I considered some of my favourites: Catch 22 immediately poses a question, the contradiction of The Lovely Bones draws a reader’s attention, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is intriguing.
The challenge is to come up with something short, catchy and unique; something that poses a question, pulling a prospective reader in, urging them to read on; a heading that also sums up your story.
It’s back to the drawing board for me, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. What makes that all important title shine?
Jane Isaac’s first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, is out on Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and Kindle worldwide now. Jane is still very much a Newbie and with a day job, a family and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. You can catch up with her at www.janeisaac.co.uk