Monday, July 5, 2010

The Challenge of Titles

So, I'm certainly not the first to have blogged about proper titles, nor will I be the last. Agents, editors, authors and writing hopefuls alike all enjoy a good title. It hooks and draws a buyer's hand closer to your published work and away from your competitors'. So yes, the title makes all the difference. I recently underwent a title change for my WiP manuscript, now titled Bond of Darkness, from its previous [horrible and generic] title, The Awakening.

Yikes! What in the world was I thinking? Of course The Awakening has been used one million times [Yes, I'm counting]. I was no different, but I chose it because it had everything to do with my character, both literal and metaphorical. That is not the case now. My protagonist has changed much since the first draft, and with the help of a few friends, I came to Bond of Darkness. But...

Only to read a recent article on "googling titles." So, I my fingers typed with fear into the search bar, and sure enough, Bond of Darkness is a recently published vampire novel by [redacted author]. YAK! Hate vamp lit [crappy vamp lit, that is]. Having only been published in 2008, the blog post suggested that you consider a title that was not used in the last 40 years. HA! Bull-crapola! My title is mine now. Considering a paranormal fantasy about vamps is nothing that can be compared to adult high fantasy, I think I should be in the clear.

The last piece of advice is something I learned from the ever-wonderful Diedre Knight, agent and founder of the Knight Agency. While on an ask agent session that she often sponsors, I asked my question about my change in title and asked Knight how she comes up with the perfect title. Knight said she uses color, sound, imagery, or anything that will spark the interest to have that novel get picked up. Usually, she takes titles across a series and makes them uniform, which is what I have done with my WiP manuscripts. In Knight's most recent release, her title consistency is something as simple as the color "Red," but it carries the most important meaning throughout her novels.

This is truly something to consider to have the best title.

So, to my writing community, how did you choose your titles and what additional advice do you have?

Bye for now!



  1. I choose my titles by going after something which hasn't been done. The second novel in my Flettleglag series WIP took on a title similar to that of another writer friend's, and so I want to rework it. The good thing about titles is that they, being words, are fluidic and can be changed around a bit. I will always put originality first in my titles.

  2. I completely agree. Although Bond of Darkness has been used, it more reflects the story arc and uniqueness of the plot than just being a hooking point for buyers. Hopefully they see it both ways.

  3. Green-Eyed Monster has both a literal and abstract meaning in my WIP. If not changed by the publisher, each book of the series also has a particular color in its title that goes along with the theme of that particular book. I like being thematic and making things all connect like that.

  4. Found a book that just sold (a Middle Grade) that has a very similar title to my YA novel on sub. Don't know what that'll mean, but I'm trying to think of alternate titles just in case.

    Another thing I've heard is that publishers can change book titles--and do sometimes. So it's all a little subjective.

    (FYI -- THE AWAKENING is also the title of a classic novel by Kate Chopin. One of the best books I studied in college.)


"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.