During some conference appointments, I’ve heard authors say they didn’t work very hard on their title because they’ve heard that the publishing house will change it anyway. While the title is frequently changed by the publisher, there’s good reason to put some effort into the title even when you’re trying to find representation or a publishing home for your book.
When I read query letters, one of the first items that jumps off the page for me is the title of the book. I don’t stop reading the query at the title, but a poor title might sway me to feel negatively about a project even when the book is great. The most common issue I see is titles that don’t match the genre of the writing. Other times authors will just use the main character’s name as a title. Rarely are books published with a name as the title, so it’s best to try to think of something more creative that has to do with the plot.
Even though a title might not be used on the final product, it still gives the publishing house an idea of what kind of title you’d like to see on your cover, and it can start the brainstorming off in the right direction. For example, the original title on Sarah Sundin’s book A Distant Melody was Better than Sacrifice. Both of these titles are three word titles with a similar rhythm. Her title idea of Better than Sacrifice set the title “tone” for all of her following books as well. If she had come to the publishing house with a book called Allie Miller (main character’s name), it would have been harder for everyone to get to the right title.
I’ll put a little disclaimer in here. Some books do very well with just a first name as the title. For example, Christy by Catherine Marshall. No hard and fast rule enables you to find the right title but put some thought into the title instead of throwing one on the book with hopes that the publishing house will find the title for you. Your work on the title will be a great starting place for the titling committee when they meet to discuss your book.
What tools do you use to come up with your title?
How do you start your title brainstorm?