Few things frustrate me more than looking for a song or a book, and not being able to find it because the author got too damned cutsie with the title.
Here is the old title of my book: Halos: In the Eye of the Tempest
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I received some really good feedback from a few beta readers. One of them said to me, “I’m a little confused, because Tempest doesn’t really fit the character.” She’s feisty, but not to the degree that she’s like a storm sweeping the coast.
Well, my bad.
The title had nothing to do with her. In fact, it was a bit ahead of myself to use that title for this book. I have always liked puzzles, and I thought I could cleverly incorporate a darling little metaphor to confuse the reader a little. Why??
Because I’m an amateur.
Why the hell would anyone want to risk confusing a reader this early on?? I don’t like it when authors do it to me, so why would I do it to my readers?
So I sat down and asked myself some questions, you know, the important ones like, “What have I been writing the last 8 months? And what title would best incorporate all the elements of THIS book?” As a reader, I tend to like clean and simple, one-word titles. Things I can remember. Some people like verbs. Not me.
It’s important to make the title relevant. I know this in my own reading. Much as I truly enjoy them, I can’t tell you a single title from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. I know it has ‘Dead’ in there somewhere, but I couldn’t name the title or the order of the books. Completely irrelevant, considering she has become a household name. But personally, I find this annoying. I started reading the series after it had been out a while, and discovered I needed a degree in Chronology just to get through it.
I love books with symbolism. In Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy, the mockingjay was such a profound symbol of hope, and I was delighted to see it as the title of the last book. In fact, it stands out so much so that I’ve often erroneously referred to series as ‘The Mockingjay trilogy.’ The pin appears on each cover, so it’s a theme throughout. Easy to remember. Symbolic. Branding.
I’ve had a few people approach me about the title of my series. “Keri, you know there’s a video game titled Halo, right?”
I’m pretty confident that gamers won’t confuse the titles. And should a pararomance junkie inadvertently come upon the sci-fi game, I have faith that he/she will not be inclined to try reading it. In other words, I think the distinctions are obvious enough.
At the same time, I don’t want too much transparency in my title. It’s not a secret sauce if I just gave you one of the main ingredients and you can pretty much wing the rest of it yourself. What’s the fun in that? So I tell you the secret ingredient is pineapple, so you’ll look at me with a WTF? expression on your face and want to know how in the heck a pineapple can make that sauce taste so darn good. (I didn’t give you the main main ingredient, because I’m selfish like that).
If you’re going the traditional route, this blog post was probably an absolute waste of your time, and I’m sorry for dragging you across cyberspace for this. (not really)
But for those of us who are considering going it alone…the title, as you already know from countless blog posts and books and everything else smacking you in the face in your investigations of how to effectively market your book, is pretty big. I’m not going to go into how to create a marketable title because, well, I’m not an expert on the topic and I’m trying to learn that myself. What I would recommend is giving the book to someone who will give you HONEST feedback. If you don’t have that one friend who would not only tell you that you have something lodged in your tooth but go so far as to grab a toothpick and fish it out for you, then seek out a writing forum for some advice. I did this too and got some REALLY valuable feedback. It’s great when you’re just a profile with some strange avi and the person on the other end can say, “Dude, title sucks.” If the person happens to elaborate beyond that, you’ve found a gem.
So I think I’ve narrowed down a relevant title. It incorporates elements in the story. Even though it doesn’t divulge an entire psychological medical record on my book, it does give a hint of insight. I use Latin all throughout the novel, and thought this might be appropriate in the title as well.
So here it is:
Have you come across any titles that kept you from buying the book?
What factors influenced the title you chose for your own book?