Monday, August 20, 2012

Titles Suck -- Until You Get One. 3 Steps to Get It

I've had this post in my draft folder for a while, but now I've reviving it. Why? I found a title!

Titles are SO hard to come up with. For my YA Fantasy MS, I had it from the beginning that it would be VIS DECOR: ALPHI and I never gave it another thought until agents said my title made no sense and should be intriguing. So, my craze and frustration with titles began, and it went from PURELY GREY to SMASHING THE SEA to PURE SEA, GREY WAVES and I bet it will STILL change.

My new WIP, and adult one, however, was a blessing. The title came to me in a flash when I was jotting down notes for this one EPIC scene (the most epicest scene in the WIP). I was wondering, how to end the last sentence for the notes, which was kind of like what the people are doing, what their purpose is. So I thought, then I hesitantly put two words down. And then I spazzed out. I was so, SO happy, and overjoyed, and I even starred the words and wrote "AHH! TITLE!!" in the notes.

So the title, for now, is DEFENDING PENELOPE, and I bet it will change, but I am happy I have an actual, maybe, decent title on hand. (My previous titles were MAN OF HEALTH and HWEALTH. Not that great, as you can see.)

Titles are a pain. They are frustrating, exhausting, and you just want to scream, "That's not what my book sounds like though! My previous title was freaking amazing!" But quite honestly, your first title might not be the best. Your first idea might not be stellar, and that's okay. Just accept the fact and move on (I still have a soft spot for VIS DECOR: ALPHI but it wasn't working). See what others think of your book.

3 Steps to Get an Awesome Title

1. Get an outside opinion. Ask your crit partners or beta readers (you have those, right?) what they think your book is about once they are done. Ask THEM for titles -- it might not help, but you will get a fresh, unbiased view of how your book's tone really is. For me, I got awesome titles from my critique group and those on Agent Query Connect and it really did help. This is the best way, I feel, to get a title if you are too frustrated.

2. Read this list. She's an awesome agent, and an awesome blogger -- she knows what she's talking about. Plus, it's an insider scoop on how AGENTS title their client's books.

3. Write a 'purpose' summary. What's the point of your book? What does the main character want to accomplish? It can be something tangible (like finding a lost book, or rescuing a princess) or something more abstract (coping with loss, getting over a divorce, finding closure). That's how I found my DEFENDING PENELOPE title, and it really worked (I feel). The title should also be a reflection of the book and its tone, and the books usually is all about the end goal; what the character wants.

Everything else I could say is in the link in Step 2, so do read that :) I don't want to repeat anything, and there is gold in there.

How have your title searches been? Any frustrating experiences, or amazing ones?

OHH, OHHH!!!! What is your favorite title -- it can be from your own book, or ANY book out there :)


  1. I'm going to keep hope alive that an agent won't change my title. lol But I do remember thinking critiquers thinking it was a medieval-era fantasy when it's a more modern epic fantasy, so we'll see what happens. X)

  2. Glad you have a great title now!
    The one for my first book was the original from thirty years ago. For my second, I had no idea, and submitted it to my publisher without a title. They brainstormed some good ones and I approved their final choice. What's great is one that wasn't chosen is now the working title for my third book.

  3. Ah... titles...

    I *love* my title for my current story. It's a ballet novel and it's called BLISTERS, but my CP's are telling me it sounds too contemporary for a haunted story... and I agree, but I just. Love. The. Title. Dangit! LOL.

  4. Titles are hard! Either they come to me in a flash of joy, or (much more likely) they only come to me kicking and screaming after I've sludged through mud and lava and hailstorms and .... well, you get the idea. :)

  5. I suck at titles. It's the last thing I do. But it's amazing how they can seem to give a book an identity once they're there. I've only had one title for my WIP - I'm semi-happy with it, and others seem to like it, so I'll stick with it unless anything else happens to come up!