Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finding....A Better Title

Well, this isn't exactly a Trend Post, but I will be talking a little bit about trends in it. I've seen a lot of title trending going on lately, particularly an influx of novels titles "Finding (enter person's name here)". Now, I don't mean to offend anyone who's book is one of those titles, but I do think it is important to address the fact that trend titles are not going to get you more readers. In fact, it might just look like a trended title is a knock off of the original.

Titles, for me, are about as important as the book cover when I go to choose a book. A book entitled "The Rogues" is going to pike my interest a lot more than say one entitled "Ruby Red". For the record, I'm reading "Ruby Red" by Kristen Gier right now and enjoying it, but I would not have picked up the title if it had not been recommended to me by a friend. I judge books by their titles as much as I do by their covers, but I don't like to be too judgmental either, because I might miss something I would really enjoy.

However, as a writer, you really need to choose a title that works for your book. When I choose a title, I try to reflect the kind of book it's going to be. I like to think that titles such as "On a Foreign Field" promise a historical war novel, which is what it is, and that "By Blood or By Bond" makes one think of strong ties and also possibly a historical novel, which is obviously what the book is about. I love when authors actually sneak the title into the book or have the title be an obvious lead in to the book itself. Series books can get away with having perhaps not to interesting titles, because by the time you hook readers with the first book, you have loyal fans for life (unless you do something to really tick your readers off.) Of course certain genres have certain kinds of titles. You can usually tell a mystery, thriller, and a romance from their title alone, (This is kind of what I think of as 'blind taste-testing' of books). Another favorite way to title books of mine is using a line of a poem. Most of my older, never-will-be-published books had Scottish poems as their titles. I actually carried this into the title of "Freedom Come All Ye" which is a song that I feature in the book. It also has a significant meaning to the story in itself. I would imagine the person who picked it up, even without knowledge of the Scottish folk song, would think that it was a book about freedom fighters or something of that nature, which it is: a novel about a young William Wallace.

I think titles are a very personal thing, which is why I am against title trending. Don't title your book like someone else's just to get people to read it. In fact, I'm kind of against putting a character's name in the title at all unless it's a series like my eventual "Anthony Maxwell Mysteries" but that should not be the title itself. The only time I would ever do this is if I were writing a book about a historical figure. Just for an example, I could call a book about William Wallace simply "Wallace". Anyone who liked reading about Wallace would probably pick up the book to see if it was about the famous Scottish hero, I know I would. Nigel Tranter entitles one of his books, "The Young Montrose" and yes, it is about James Graham, Earl of Montrose. The title should mean something to the author, that is why I personally do not wrack my brains for a title, I let it come to me. When I can't think of one, I resort to looking through poems or quotes that remind me of my book and take a phrase or line from that.

Authors, how do you go about choosing a title for your books and what are your thoughts on title trending?

Slainte, Hazel

11 comments:

  1. The only recent title trend that really started to bug me was the one that happened in the wake of the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" craze. It seemed like every new title was some variation on "The Girl [In/With] the [Adjective] [Noun]" or "The Girl Who [Past-tense verb] the [Noun]."

    I love it when series titles are creative... i.e., not just the name of the first book or the main character's name. I think "A Song of Ice and Fire" is a great series name, though I couldn't care less about the books. :-)

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  2. Yes, I did notice that trend too.

    "A Song of Ice and Fire" is a really cool name, but I haven't gotten into those books either. For the record, I love the title of your book, because it's just the kind of title that catches my eye ;)

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    1. Aw, thank you! I can't really take credit for it, since I just snagged it from "William Tell," but I'm glad you like it! :-D

      I was actually wondering if you'd ever read any G.A. Henty? "By Blood or By Bond" has kind of a Henty-ish ring to it, I think. :-)

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  3. I loved the quote in it too, I looked it up after I read your book =)

    I have read Henty, and actually I kind of thought the same thing. Not that I was stealing from him or trending :P But when the title came to me (in the middle of the night as always) I was like, hm, that sounds a bit like a Henty title.

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    1. I think it's perfect, since your books remind me a bit of Henty's. :-)

      Titles are always, always the hardest thing for me--for stories or for academic writing. I hate having to title my papers for school. I do like it when books take lines from poetry, plays, or even the Bible for their titles. My problem is I've never been much of a poetry fan, so I don't know where to start looking. :-)

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  4. Well, if you ever need a point in the right direction, I read tons of poetry and am in possession of a whole collection of poetry books (all the classics) so don't hesitate to ask ;)

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  5. One of the trends I've noticed a lot is single-word titles that aren't names, like "Timeless" or "Once." Sometimes one-word titles I do like. "Entwined" is perfect for the book, but the majority of the time I find that once I've read the book, the title is just vague.

    Out of curiosity, Hazel, what would your opinion be of my book's title - "The Birthright"? And please be brutally honest; I won't be offended. ;) Like you, I judge books by their titles - sometimes even more so than by their covers. Because when browsing shelves, the title is the first thing you're met with.

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  6. When I hear titles like that, they make me think of fairy tale re-tellings, which I think those are, right?

    As for your title, I really do like it, and it would catch my attention. It doesn't perhaps sound quite like a mystery novel title, but I don't think that's a bad thing either because your story had a very sophisticated plot line like Dumas or Dickens and it gives a definitely feel that the book is set in the past and it also obviously leads an idea to what the plot is going to be (which some titles don't, as I'm sure you know ;P) I think it works much better than any other the other titles you had before =)

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  7. "Entwined" is a fairytale retelling; "Timeless" is an uberly-boring time-travel romance, and "Once" is a somewhat okay dystopian romance.

    So it doesn't sound like a cheap paperback bodice-ripper? ;)

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  8. No, actually, hahaha ;) Actually, one of my amusing past times is reading romance titles because they amuse me: "To Tame a Highlander" "What an Earl Wants" yeah, it doesn't sound like that to me. Personally, whenever I hear anything about birthrights or bloodlines I think either family saga or a story that's going to have a plot line that goes back many generations. Maybe not everyone thinks that but I don't think it sounds like a bodice-ripper either ;)

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