A couple of weeks ago I started a competition on my blog to come up with a title for my collection of romantic suspense novellas. Lots of people got in touch. I was really excited with the response, and I’m thrilled to announce I’ve chosen the winner…and it’s the perfect title. Hooray! I’m absolutely chuffed to bits. Thanks so much to everyone who sent suggestions. I was touched by the thought people gave to it. I’ll be posting both the title and the cover here on my blog tomorrow…so watch this space!
And – by perfect coincidence! – this month’s Round Robin subject is :
How important is a title? What attracts you to a certain title, and how do you determine what to title your book?
(I’m illustrating this post with some fab covers taken from the British Library Flickr collection. Love the titles! It’s well worth checking out their site. They have lots of cool stuff and all images are free to download.)
First of all, how important is a title?
I think titles are very important, for genre fiction especially. Readers who pick up a book called Mystery in the Old Manor House are expecting a different read to Snowbound with the Billionaire. A book with the title Crime and Punishment suggests you’re not going to get much heart-warming romance. Readers can generally rely on the titles of genre fiction to signal what’s in store for them. With literary fiction that’s not always the case, but the title often sums up the “feeling” of the book, eg The Bell Jar to me suggests something held captive or constrained; the title Jane Eyre is plain and direct, like the heroine; Wuthering Heights straightaway gives the impression of something wild and remote. A good title will give at least some indication of what’s inside the book.
What attracts you to a certain title? This question has made me think very deeply! I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book because the title alone attracted me. There has to be something else – either because someone’s recommended the book, or I like the blurb, or even the cover.
I’ve been thinking of my favourite books, and their titles. Pride and Prejudice is just perfect. A romance novel is all about the conflict between the hero and heroine, and there Jane Austen says it all – it’s Darcy and Lizzie’s pride and prejudice that keeps them apart through most of the novel.
One of my favourite films is Blade Runner. You can guess from the title that it’s a sci-fi adventure. It’s a gripping film. But the film is based on Phillip K. Dick’s short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It’s strange that the title of the short story has a completely different feel to the one for the film. The short story title is quite quirky and philosophical and I think also quite sad and poignant. The film is also sad and poignant in parts, but the title doesn’t suggest that at all.
Another book I love is Gone with the Wind. But the title..! It has to be one of my least favourite titles. If I had no idea what that story was about, this is a book I wouldn’t pick up from the title alone. I think I can guess what Margaret Mitchell meant by it – that the old life in the south was swept away by the winds of change. But the book is about hope – there is hope for Scarlett at the end, and through her stubbornness and determination she overcomes the most terrible tribulations. Why the depressing title?
There are titles I definitely find off-putting. Anything that suggests horror – The Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street – or ultra-violence. That sort of title would stop me buying a book. I like to read to relax :) Mind you, I have read A Clockwork Orange, which is a study in chilling violence. The title is symbolic – a sweet, fleshy fruit on the outside, and a cold robot on the inside. It is a great title.
How do you determine what to title your book?
People choose books so quickly these days that I try to choose a title that will let them know immediately what they can expect. The titles of my three novels all suggest a love story, but to be perfectly honest I don’t think I’m very good at choosing my titles. I don’t think any of them are immediately arresting. If I could go back and change them, I would! :(
For my latest release, I really struggled to hit on a title that would appeal to readers and that summed up the themes of the stories in my collection. (My post here explains why it was a problem.) When I asked for help, lots of people responded, and with some really creative and thoughtful ideas. Perhaps I should give up trying to title my own books and ask other people in future!
This has been another great Round Robin topic, and very thought -provoking. I’m interested to know what the other authors have to say on the subject. If you’d like to read their articles, you’ll find the links at the bottom of this post. Please do drop in and say hello!
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How about you? Have you ever picked up a book for the title alone? Do you think titles are important when you choose a book? If you’re a writer, how do you go about choosing the titles for you own novels?
If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-MI
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com