Choosing a Title

What's In a Name? Why Titles Matter

Book titles matter. They must be memorable, intriguing and above all, they must say something about your book or story. Think of Wuthering Heights, Bleak House, Pride and Prejudice, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, War Horse . . .

Name titles are also good – when the name is perfectly chosen of course - Matilda, Skulduggery Pleasant, Charlotte’s Web, Judy Moody, Artemis Fowl, Huckleberry Finn . . .

But how do you find the right title for your book or story? And how do you know that it is the right title?

I’ll try to explain using some of my own titles.

Always the Bridesmaid was a strong title – it describes the main character’s situation and it’s short and easy to remember.

When the Boys are Away is another good title – it’s about Meg and what she gets up to when her boyfriend, a professional sailor, is away. Both these titles are for adults – I write for both adults and younger readers.

The Loving Kind/Anything for Love/Some Kind of Wonderful – I’m not so keen on these titles – again all novels for adults. They don’t say much about the individual stories or characters – in fact they are pretty much interchangeable – and they’re a bit vague, a bit lazy really. In retrospect, I should have tried harder! But coming up with a good title isn’t easy, especially with deadlines looming.

Ask Amy Green – I love this as a series title. It’s simple and it has a nice ring to it. Amy is my Everygirl, an average 13 year old girl that readers can identify with I hope, so I gave her a name that I love (my daughter is called Amy) and a surname that lots of girls have – Green. She’s an agony aunt and likes to solve problems, so I though that ‘Ask’ was appropriate – as in you can ask her anything and she will try to help.


I also like the individual book titles very much – especially Boy Trouble, Summer Secrets, Bridesmaid Blitz and Dancing Daze (out in September) – which each give a good flavour of what the book is about. I’m not so hot on Love and Other Drama-ramas – and boy did we have trouble with that title! It was originally to be called Party Drama-ramas but as the book changed, the title had to change too. I would have liked to get more of Bailey’s story into the title (the book is largely about his struggle to find his place in the world), but it was really difficult.

I quite liked Mystery Male as a title, but it wasn’t quite right. Other titles we tried were Dates and Other Drama-Ramas (too like Cathy Hopkins great Mates, Dates series), Double Drama-rama (too vague), Dublin Drama-rama (again a bit vague). So we decided on Love and Other Drama-ramas which we were all happy with (my editors, Annalie and Gill help me with titles if I’m stuck). And the book is about love – family and romantic - and the problems it can cause, so it does fit nicely.

So, in short, make your title simple, memorable and make it say something about your book. When I’ve cracked it 100% myself, I’ll let you know!

What’s YOUR favourite book title and why? I’d be most interested to know.

Yours in books,

Sarah XXX

(A version of this post first appeared on the Girls Heart Books blog)