Nov 082012

Today I have a guest post about book titles from Jessica Lave, author of A 21st Century Fairy Tale.

What is the most important part of a finished book? The writing? The cover? How about the title? The title is what people are going to recognize a particular book by, and it is how they will tell other people about it. The other things are just as important, but if a book does not have a great title, nobody is going to stick around to find out what the cover looks like or whether the book is written well. Today, a great book title is one that is easy to share, easy to remember, and distinguished.

What makes a title easy to share?

For readers to share a book, the title should not be too long, or difficult to spell or pronounce. If prospective readers have to type in the whole title to find it in the search results or if the spelling is too difficult to get right, they are not going to be able to find it, let alone share it. Beyond that, if someone is unable to pronounce the title, when that person tries to tell her friends about it, the title is going to get lost in translation, relegating a potentially great book into obscurity.

However, this does not mean you cannot choose a unique or whimsical title if it fits the genre the book is in or if it is especially relevant to your plot. This simply means, be careful when doing so, and try to choose something that most readers will be able to type or talk about easily, quickly, and without having to think about it.

What makes a title memorable?

There is a fine line between a creative, artistic title and a confusing or complicated one. If the title is long, or has a subtitle that it makes it long, it makes it more difficult for potential readers to find and remember. Furthermore, choosing a title that does not match the story or genre, or includes too much information can be problematic for readers as well as the press, both of whom will have more trouble talking about the book. Avoid being that writer whose book people can never remember the name of.

What makes a title distinguished?

A truly unique book title is a rarity when there are so many other books available on the market, and especially on the Internet. At a local bookstore, choosing a unique title may not be difficult, but once the title is opened up to searches on Amazon, Google, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers, choosing a title that is easily distinguishable from others in the search results can be a big challenge.

The problem is, if a book title is one word, has some of the same words, or sounds similar to a number of other books out there, it can get lost among books that have already been established through reviews, ratings, keywords and SEO (search engine optimization).

The last thing you want is for your book to appear behind forty other books in the search results because their titles are too similar. Unless the reader knows your author name, too, they may never know which one is yours. Also, many people are too impatient to dig through multiple pages of search results to find what they are looking for. If they cannot find it easily, they may give up.

How I chose my book’s title

When I first started publishing my books, I knew nothing about market research or choosing titles well, so my first book ended up with a title that was really unique, but not great on pronunciation or spelling. It was kind of a mouthful.

With my second book, A 21st Century Fairy Tale, I had a different issue. I had chosen a title that was very fitting to the plot—and looked great on my cover art—but just as I was about to release the book, it occurred to me to check my title against what was already out there. It turned out there were about twenty other books with similar or near identical titles to the one I chose!

On the upside, all the books were in the same genre, so the title was a good fit from that standpoint, but it also meant mine would have been buried in the search listings by these other books. Unless a reader knew my name or what my cover looked like, she would likely not have been able to find my book.

After discovering this, it felt like I had to start over. I had been using the original title almost from the beginning, and to have to choose one at the last minute was disheartening. None of the new titles I created stood out, but finally, I settled on one that I felt it was the most descriptive, if ironic, of the titles I had come up with. It was a little long, but I felt that the length actually helped it stand out among the other titles in the genre.

Choosing a title is often one of the hardest parts about finishing a book because the title is what will identify the book to prospective readers around the world, and even more than the cover, will set it apart in the long run. The cover may garner some short-lived attention, but the title endures.

About Jessica Lavé
Connect online: Website, Twitter, Goodreads

Jessica Lavé is a freelance writer, familiar with everything from copywriting to novels. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, going to the movies, and reading crime and horror books. You can find her new book, a fantasy mystery novella entitled A 21st Century Fairy Tale, on Amazon and Kindle.

A 21st Century Fairy Tale A 21st Century Fairy Tale by Jessica Lavé
Find the book online: Amazon, Goodreads

WELCOME TO LAMONT, COLORADO: a quiet little town nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It’s the type of town where people know each other by name and see each other every day. It’s the type of town where things like murder, fire, and anything supernatural just don’t happen.

But Lamont is about to get a new resident–a resident who carries these things wherever he goes, and leaves the land scorched in his wake.

When the disappearances begin and things start going bump in the night, there are only a few of the local townspeople who notice and decide to act. For them, protecting their town from this new evil is the only thing that matters.

These lonely crusaders will have to confront their own disbelief and doubts–as well as those of their friends and neighbors–to face a foe unlike any they could ever have imagined.

  One Response to “Guest post: Jessica Lave”

  1. Thanks for having me as a guest blogger! I enjoyed working on the article, and I hope everyone enjoys reading!

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