How Important is Your Book's Title?

How Important is Your Book’s Title? Tips on attracting the right kind attention for your book . . . How important is a book’s title? In a word, vital. Good titles should reflect the content of the book. They should be short (or shortish) and snappy, they should suit the type of book you are writing. If it’s a crime novel, blood is good in a title. Not so good for popular fiction. And as it’s popular fiction I write, that’s what I’ll concentrate on now.

Who decides on a book’s title? Mostly the author. But if the sales and marketing team don’t like your chosen title, you’re in trouble. Sometimes it’s worth sticking to your guns, but often they have a point. All they care about is selling your book. They are not really interested in how many hours/days/weeks you’ve put into coming up with a clever title. Your editor might be, but it’s the sales and marketing team’s job to squeeze as many of your books into as many bookshops and supermarkets as possible, and in order to do this they demand a/ a good cover and b/ a good title – and it’s their job to complain if either are not right for their customers. And I’m always very grateful for their input. They are the ones who put my books on the shelves. And all any writer really wants is as many readers as possible, yes?

Some writers would probably recoil in horror from what I’m about to say – so avert your eyes if you must – in the case of one adult book, Anything for Love, I gave my editor a list of titles I liked and asked her to pick one, yes, asking the sales and marketing team for their input too. And they picked Anything for Love. And the other titles I suggested – well, here you go – which one would you choose?

The Charity Queens – as they don’t use the term in the UK this was rejected very quickly Taking on the Charity Queens – see above

Girl Friday – also rejected – funnily enough, Jane Green used this title for one her books last year and I still like it can't recall why they didn't to be honest!

Her Girl Friday - bit clunky

A Girl Called Alice - boring

I like Anything for Love as a title but I don’t LOVE it. It doesn’t really say much about the book.

The next adult book, The Shoestring Club, now I LOVE that title, and it was one I came up with and liked from the start. The book is out in 2011 and already has a stunning new cover look.

I think titles work best when they SAY something about the book. My Ask Amy Green series is about a girl – Amy Green – who helps people, and also helps write an agony aunt column for a teen magazine. The first book is called Boy Trouble, then there’s Summer Secrets, Bridesmaid Blitz, Party Drama-rama, Dancing Daze, and Wedding Belles. All are directly linked to the plot. And I’m very pleased with each and every title. All were easy to come up with, except for Party Drama-rama.

Here were some of my suggestions: Party Girls Party Madness Party Drama-rama Dublin Drama-rama Dizzy in Dublin Party Pandemonium (I liked this but I wasn’t sure younger readers would know what Pandemonium - or Palooza, another of my suggestions – actually meant) Party Planners It’s a Girl Thing – this is a bit lazy actually – and it’s been used before Glitter Girls Friends and Fireworks Parties and Promises It’s My Party

Some of which are actually pretty good. But I was finding it hard to settle on one, so I sent the list to my editors, who spoke to sales and marketing and ta, da, it’s Party Drama-rama which suits the book perfectly!

So there you go, some inside info on the work and thought process that goes into a title.

Is this helpful to you – probably not! But I hope it’s interesting.

Above all pick a title that’s easy to remember, says something about the book, and suits the type of book you have written. Song titles work well – think of Marian Keyes’s ‘This Charming Man’, as do expressions like ‘Always the Bridesmaid’, but only if they suit the book and haven’t been over used. Above all, make sure it’s not boring.

As Claudia Carroll always says, the first commandment of popular fiction is: Thou Shall Not Bore – quite right too, Claudia!

So Clara Story doesn’t cut it, and neither does The Story of Clara; but Clara's Secret, or The Clara Affair - now you’re talking . . .

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX