The perfect title-match

It is a fact universally acknowledged that every good book is in need of an adequately decent title – and so, every good author finds themselves in search of the perfect book title. This search being an endeavor not always met with immediate success, a new author is always wise in having a few literary tricks upon his sleeve.

Even the most eloquent and literally secure among us know it – this feeling of indecisiveness or insecurity when you know that your choice of words is extremely important and thus could make or break a situation. It might even feel so hazardous as if your life depended on it – so what if it did? You might feel this to be an overly dramatic approach, and maybe it is not your life per se that you would find exposed to threat – but certainly your existence as in earning your keep as an author if the words just will not come. The words for the very title of the book, no less!

Fear not, dear reader, you certainly are not alone in this endeavor. If you are an author, well-seasoned or new to the world of publishing, chances are that you will find yourself more often than not struggling for that one momentous turn of phrase, hunting down this ever-so-alluring <je ne sais quoi> for your prose. As a matter of your profession, you will always weigh your words with that extra modicum of care, most especially when you want to attract new readers. As a mere mortal in the world of books, you are no J.K. Rowling or Stephen King – yet!

So, as a result, you need to gain the attention of your readers by means other than your name. People will most probably flock to you by intrigue or interest, and, as every avid reader can attest, a catchy book title has done the trick more often than not.

So far, so good – but not necessarily easy.  You might have written a modern-day Pride and Prejudice, but with a title along the lines of “How Elizabeth Bennett fell for and married her Mr. Darcy after a series of sometimes unfortunate yet always romantic and highly diverting events” even a Jane Austen would not have met with resounding success. So we from novum publishing have devised a little guideline for everyone in need of the perfect title-match to their book.

1.) Give it time

It might sound like a highly overexerted phrase, but it is a truth, nonetheless: do not rush things. We are serious, do not do it. Give your book title the time to reveal itself to you.

Let us explain: writing books has actually a lot in common with love. A labor of love deserves care and growth. You have taken your time writing your book, dedicated many hours and days, weeks and months – maybe even years? – to writing and re-writing it. Maybe the title will come to you in a heartbeat and it will feel and be just right – but it might also take longer. Let go of any expectations and give in to the process. You will know!

2.) The literary box of magic

Do you still remember when you were a child, new to school and learning, and the alphabet as well as your numbers were adventures yet to be experienced and explored? Back then when you realized that language is more than just a means of communicating to your parents what you would like to eat and could it come in this new lunchbox from Toys’ R’ us please? It has been a while, but when you think back to your education, you will remember that your teachers gave you a few very useful tools for writing along the way. When you feel lost, think back and try to see your story and the words creating it with the eyes of a child, travel back in time and rediscover the magic that lies within – the very same magic that probably led you to write your story to begin with.

3.) Short and simple or not? 

There are a few book titles, especially in younger history, that stand out by being rather long and complex up to straight up surprising in their unlikely juxtaposition („The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime” by Mark Haddon, who let himself be inspired by none other than the great William Shakespeare, as did a good many other authors as explained by point 4).

Titles like these definitely show that there is no single golden rule to book titles, and if you do not manage to keep it short, you might not have to! Yet one cannot deny the charm and intrigue that exudes a short and well-chosen title.

A few titles to illustrate our point:

A short history of nearly everything (Bill Bryson)
Everything I never told you (Celeste Ng)
It (Stephen King)
Eat. Pray. Love. (Elizabeth Gilbert)
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)

4.) Turn a phrase like Shakespeare

True masters never go out of style – and among the greatest writers of all time, nobody is quite like Shakespeare. So great, in fact, that many a modern author did not bother to look in their own heads for inspiration, but rather ripped their very first lines right from the ancient and uber-worthy pages of none other than William Shakespeare. What they can do, you can do, too of course – when all else fails, you can always rely on the works of the greatest English writer of all time to give you all the words you never knew you needed. Or did you know that both “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley and “The fault in our stars” by John Greene are more Shakespearean than anything else?

5.) A little alliteration never hurt nobody

Remember when we told you to remember your school days? Well, there actually were a few things in those curricula that are actually useful and very applicable to the process of creative writing: a tool that certainly never goes out of style here being alliteration. Why, the honorable Jane Austen even used it twice: In both her bestsellers Pride and Prejudice as well as Sense and Sensibility.

6.) Opinion leaders of Literature

…Who? Let yourself be led by the ones who know best!

Never lose sight of the obvious: Your book is meant to be read, which is why you want to publish it. You want to share it with the world, and before you do so, you might want to share it with a select audience of your esteemed opinion leaders: family, friends and people whose opinion you value highly. They can not only give you feedback to the content but also the title of your book – ask them bluntly: Would this or that title catch your interest, and why?

Your favorite authors, even if you cannot consult them personally (even though there are authors who are very approachable and might surprise you with a response via Twitter or other Social Media accounts should you dare to reach out and ask them) can pose as valuable helpers, too. Obviously, it is often they whom you would want to emulate as a writer. So interviews with them about their creative processes as well as scanning through their works and titles can do wonders for finding inspiration and setting your own benchmarks as an author.

7.) What luck has got to do with it

One factor that always plays a role in finding and succeeding with book titles is: luck. Sheer, pure luck. As with so many things in life, it is not controllable but you can always play with it – leaf through the pages of your manuscript, blindly pointing to whatever page or word that reveals itself by chance. Maybe it is there that you will find just what it was that you were searching for!

To conclude our little hopeful helper in finding your perfect book title, here are few of the most curious and entertaining book titles ever:

  • “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” – Judy and Ron Barrett
  • “Everything I know about women I learned from my tractor” – Roger Welsch
  • “Gods Behaving Badly” – Marie Philipps
  • “How to raise your IQ by eating gifted children”-Lewis Frumkes
  • “Let’s pretend this never happened: A mostly true memoir” – Jenny Lawson
  • “Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Misappropriation of Seed from Your Birdfeeder by Squirrels” – Bill, Jr. Adler
  • “The Man Who Folded Himself” -David Gerrold
  • “The Transitive Vampire: a Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed”- Karen Elizabeth Gordon
  • “Why cats paint: A theory of feline aesthetics” – Heather Busch and Burton Silver

Much luck and most of all lots of fun and creative energy is what we at novum publishing are wishing for you to have while on the search for your book titles. Maybe you have a few curious titles of your favorite reads that you would like to share with us? 🙂 We cannot wait to see what you will inspire us and the community with next!

Let your keyboard run free,

Yours,
novum publishing.

Leave a Reply