author, creative writing, writing

Naming Your Novel: Finding the Perfect Title

Good morning creatives, I hope you’ve all had a great week.

I have been messing around a little with some mock book covers for my NaNoWriMo project. It got me thinking about titles. Do you find that titles are either blissfully easy or impossibly difficult? Sometimes, the title of a project just comes to me…just like that! Before I’ve even started writing it. Other times I scrabble around for months trying to piece together an idea.

If you’re struggling with naming your novel then take a look below at a few of the tips that have worked for me. Perhaps they’ll work for you too!

1. Consider your genre

Genre is so important when it comes to book titles, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. Your genre is ultimately what will sell your book to the right audience, and a reader can usually tell from the cover if the book is in their preferred category. (We should never judge a book by its cover, of course, but it cant be denied that people will pick up whatever they are drawn to first!) So, if you are writing a thriller, the title needs to convey that. Thrillers usually have titles that sound quite dark, dangerous or threatening. For example, You Let Me In (Lucy Clarke), Watching You (Lisa Jewell), Last Seen Alive (Claire Douglas).

Likewise, if you write romance, the title should sound romantic, rather than dark or dull. Examples include Sea of Lost Love (Santa Montefiore), All I Ever Wanted (Lucy Dillon), You’re The One That I Want (Giovanna Fletcher).

If you’re struggling to find the perfect title, browse some books in your genre to get a feel for the kind of titles used. It could inspire you!

2. Think of words that suit your novel’s themes
This one ties in with genre. You’ll notice certain words finding their way into titles in certain genres, and with books that have certain themes. It’s another way of marketing to the right readers, and grabbing the attention of people who like to read about certain things. Again, in thrillers and mysteries, you’ll find lots of book titles that include words such as lies, secrets, lost. In fantasy you might find words such as magic, swords, blood. And in romance love, kiss, vow. Incorporating these words into your title can help sell your book to the right audience, though you should avoid anything that sounds too forced.

3. Use a quote from your book
This has been one of my favourite methods in the past, and while it’s not applicable to my current WIP, it is certainly true for the book that I am currently querying. Taking a short line or phrase from your book can be a really nice way to link your title to the deeper story. My novel has the following sentence: We breathe, and the city breathes with us. One time, while reading back over my work, it just hit me that that should be the title. As such, The City Breathes With Us became the title. I have known of other novels to do this, or at least paraphrase quotes from the book to turn into a title. (Consider The Fault In Our Stars (John Green), The Catcher In The Rye (J.D. Salinger). Next time you read through your story, keep an eye out for quotes or phrases that may work as a title.

4. Look back at your other titles (especially if you’re already published)
Some writers, particularly published authors, decide to stick with a pattern when it comes to naming their novels. This is a great way to ensure people who have read one of your books before recognise that book as yours before they’ve even read the author name. C.L. Taylor is a great example of this, and has books called The Accident, The Missing, The Lie, The Fear, The Escape, The Treatment. These titles, tied in with carefully designed cover art, make her books stand out on a shelf, and easily encourage readers of her earlier books to pick up her latest volume. Clever!

5. Strip it back to basics
Sometimes, your title can be a really basic, lose idea of what the story is about. This can add a lot of intrigue, as potential readers find themselves wondering, “well, what’s so special about that?”, and this draws them in. Take for example The Girl On The Train (Paula Hawkins), The Woman In The Window (A.J. Finn). What would your book be called if you stuck to this method? Maybe you could try this as a titling exercise, and share your result below. I suppose mine would be The Girl In The Park, but I’m not sure that one has quite the same impact!

6. Cast a vote
Social media has many perks, and the online writing community is 100% one of them. Features on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram stories, now allow you to create polls within a matter of moments. So if you have two (or more!) title ideas, create a poll and see what your followers think is the stronger title. Ask them which title they’d be more likely to pick up. This way, if you’re torn between ideas, you can get some outside advice.

7. Google your title ideas
There are definitely plenty of books out there that share titles. And I doubt there are many titles that are subject to tight copyright laws. (Of course, naming your book Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of The Rings might not go down well.) I have read books with the same titles in the past. However, I would strongly recommend you google any of your title ideas before committing to them. If your title is going to be shared with another book, perhaps one that is already extremely successful, you may find yourself buried in any online search times, and find it hard to stand out against the other book.

Do you find titling your book easy, or is it something you struggle with? Comment below to share your novel naming tips or stories.

Until then,
Keep writing,

P.s. – I am hoping to share the mock cover I mentioned above, sometime soon. So follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for a sneak peak.

27 thoughts on “Naming Your Novel: Finding the Perfect Title”

  1. I’m definitely among those who find it a difficult task. After all, my WIP spent years with a sarcastic working title “Project Eternity”. Naming the future sequels was slightly easier – I guess maybe trying to set a naming theme for a to-be trilogy was the hardest step.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, M. I love reading books where the title is a quote or line that you discover as you read (which I found when beta reading your book 😊). When it came to naming the books in my series, it’s been so long I can’t remember how or when I came up with the titles 😅, I just know I wanted them to be a “The” series. So they all have a title that stars with “The…”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post thanks – it’s something I need quite soon and I like the idea of using a quote in the book though atm I have a lign from one of my poems that seems to fit – so I may need to put that to the poll (another great idea) 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really love your title The City Breathes With Us, and the line is gorgeous, too. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever had a title for a WIP that I’ve been in love with? Which is kind of good, because I want to be traditionally published and I know that I won’t have much control over the title, but also, I end up working on projects called “WIP” for too long. These are great tips, though, thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post with some interesting ways to come up with a title. I struggle finding the right title as many writers do. My first novel is still chopping and changing. 🤦‍♀️
    I loved that your title was taken from the story. It was a satisfying moment to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great subject. It’s one of those talks where I could see all of us at a coffee shop talking about our books titles for hours.

    Titles are strange and for me if it won’t go away it’s a sign that I need to keep it.

    On the other hand that doesn’t mean it’s a good title. So I guess there’s no real answer to this but your suggestions are great. They will help when it comes to finding one.


    Liked by 1 person

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