Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Writing 101: Writing the Title

In some cases, writing the title can be the hardest part of writing the whole book. I know this to be true, because I worked on a book for about 10 months before giving it any sort of title at all (and I later rejected it). This is why I wait to announce my titles. So what should you do if you find yourself in a similar place...and can't seem to get around to writing the title? 

What's in a Name? 

The importance of the book title cannot be overestimated. It's the first (and sometimes only) thing readers notice. The title has to grab them and interest them, or they won't take a look at the blurb. If they don't read the blurb, you don't make the sale...and that all starts with the title.

It's okay to take a long time to figure out what the title of your book should be, though I've read some author tips where experts tell you to title your project right away. Don't do this unless you get struck by inspiration and you're certain this is the title for you. Some book titles don't reveal themselves until the very end of the book (which was the case with my current project) and that's fine because you can't publish before you're finished anyway.

But sometimes, inspiration doesn't strike. When a title just isn't coming to you, it might be necessary to jog your creativity a little.

  • Word list. Make a list of words that you might use to describe your book. Anything that comes to mind is okay -- nothing is off-limits when you brainstorm. Keep going until you run out of words, then sit back and look at your list. As you explore your words, something might leap out at you. 
  • Expand. If you have a handful of good words that fit, but none that are really shouting at you, it's time to expand. Take the best words from your list and look them up in your favorite thesaurus (or two or three). Write down any new words that strike your fancy. 
  • Name game. Using the words you've got, just start throwing dummy titles together. Come up with 5 or so and start playing with them. With some tweaking, you may write something perfect.

When all else fails, turn the title into a promotional event. Release a well-polished excerpt and your book blurb and stage a contest that allows fans to choose the title for your book. This is risky, but it can give you a decent marking boost and help you solve your titling problem, to boot. Include a note of thanks to the fans who named the book in the dedication or the Author's Note, and make it part of the book's history.

Writing the title can be one of the hardest parts of being an author. Keep working at it until you come up with something that you love, and don't rush the process. If you take your time, you'll craft the perfect title.

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