Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Titles, Titles, and More Titles

Inspiration can appear in many places when you're brainstorming ideas for titles. The beautiful, fragrant lilac was my inspiration for the title of my first Hollyhill book. The Scent of Lilacs. Almost until it was ready to go into print production, I had the title The Smell of Lilacs. Then I was standing behind the old bus my husband's quartet used to travel in and being almost overcome by diesel fumes which I really hate to smell. And it hit me! A smell is not always a good smell. Ah, but when you say scent, you think pleasant odors and I definitely had in mind pleasant odors for my scent of lilacs in that Hollyhill book. Fortunately, it wasn't too late for me to say, "Hey, how about we change smell to scent?" If it had been too late, I'd have probably always been thinking diesel fumes when I saw the title instead of the heavenly scent of lilacs.

As I told you Sunday, I've been brainstorming for title ideas for my book in progress. I jotted down everything that came to mind and then looked on Amazon to see how many books were already using those titles and how long since they were published. Titles are used over and over. For instance, one of the titles I thought up as a possibility was Promise Me Tomorrow. Lots of other authors had already thought that title up. Many books with that title. Also Tomorrow's Promise was a popular, much used title. So I threw those out as too popular and too recent. 

I want my book to have a unique and fitting title.  I'm not sure I came up with any unique and fitting ideas. I really prefer to wait until I've finished the book to brainstorm title ideas, and this book is far from finished. I'm still feeling my way and not totally sure how the ending is going to go. But the publishers need a title now. Maybe I need a title now too. Maybe that will focus my thinking and let me see the story in a clearer way. My working title for the book is Far from Rosey Corner. But while I was brainstorming I kept wanting to throw love into the title or chance or wind/winds. So we'll see. The publishers titling committee will look at my suggestions and try to figure out which title would work best. They might also brainstorm new titles of their own. Since I'm not particularly attached to any of the titles I came up with, I'll have an open mind ready to consider whatever they suggest. That's not always the case when I'm attached to the title I've decided is best for the story.

Many of the titles I have come up with have ended up the final titles on my books. I've also been told that I write to the title. I do tend to intertwine the theme of the title into my story. I certainly did that with The Seeker. And I have done that with The Gifted, my Shaker novel that will be out in July since a major theme of that book is the gifts we are given by the Lord. So it will be good to have a title for this work in progress, so I can continue to brainstorm the story. 

How important are titles to you in picking a book? What are some great titles? Gone with the Wind - that's classic. I like Cold Mountain and Snow on Cedars. But sometimes it's a combination of a story you love plus a title like The Secret Garden or Charlotte's Web.  

Thanks for reading, and I always enjoy reading your comments.


  1. I've several published books and I feel like finding the perfect title is one of the hardest writing tasks. It's 1/4 of what readers see first - the cover art, the title, author's name, and the back cover copy. Can't wait to find out what you choose.

  2. I've hit a few of what I feel are really good titles. More for my young peoples books years ago. Titles like Secrets to Tell and Bridge to Courage. I really doubt I've found the right title for my work in progress. Right now I'm sort of wondering if I've found the story for my WIP.

    What's one of your titles that you like?

  3. Hi, Ann! Great post--as always : ) Titles and covers both hold a great fascination for me. I think that titles can play a large role in the successful acceptance of a book by the public. A poorly matched title, one that is too long, or one that is simply unappealing, can all detract from the content of the book. Having said that, I know that I could read a great book without a title or cover, and I would still be impressed. The trick is to find a "short but sweet" title that makes an impact and leaves a lasting link to the book.

    "Still Missing", by Chevy Stevens, is a harrowing survival tale of a woman who faces kidnapping, imprisonment and physical and mental cruelty at the hands of a sadistic psycho. After you read this book, the title, "Still Missing", will haunt you till the end of your reading days!

  4. Virginia, just reading the book description and the title is a bit chilling. Makes me remember reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote years ago. That story haunted me for a long time. I did not read Helter Skelter. Sometimes I have to shield my imagination from stories like that. But the titles are all apt and fitting.

  5. The title grabs you and pulls you in, however, I find I have to be careful because sometimes first impressions can be wrong.

    I imagine picking a title is somewhat like naming a baby - you want just the name, it is going to be around forever.

  6. Belinda, it doesn't really bother me when a book doesn't live up to the title - well, if somebody else wrote it. I want my books to live up to my expectations, naturally enough. But there have been times I wondered why the author picked such and such titles. Times when I really couldn't see any connection to the story. And you do always want the best title you can come up with. That's for sure.

  7. Ann, I didn't know how to contact you except through your blog. I just finished reading ANGEL SISTER. A little over 2 years ago my husband, mother, and father went to heaven all in 4 months' time. I accepted Christ as a 9 year old girl and have been following him for 50 years, but I have been having all of those same questions about God that the characters in this book had. It really touched my heart as I heard God speaking to me through them. Many tears were shed as I read. Thank you for your writings.

    I have been an avid reader since childhood and not only is a book's title very important to me, but so is the cover. The title AND cover of ANGEL SISTER immediately grabbed my attention.

  8. Candy, you can always contact me here or through my website, I'm on Facebook too with an author's page.

    I do so appreciate knowing that the struggles of my characters in Angel Sister spoke to your heart and brought you a measure of comfort. You went through some rough times losing so many people you loved in such a short period. I'm sure that was difficult and something that caused you much sadness. So glad you continued holding to the Lord's hand and letting him walk with you through your valleys of distress. What a friend we have in Jesus!

    Thanks so much for reading my book and for your comment here. Glad my title and cover reached out to you.


Thanks for joining the conversation. I like hearing what you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.