How to come up with a title

Question: I know that the publisher usually comes up with the title or can change it if they want. But you need to come up with a title for your book before you send it in. No? I can't come up with a title for my book. I can think of cool things but then think that has nothing to do with the book it makes no sense. Some books have perfect titles like The Hunger Games and the main thing in the story is the hunger games, The Percy Jackson series it's about Percy Jackson and then the other title the lightning thief or something is what has to do with the book and the same with Harry Potter, or I am number four that one is about number four. Those are all perfect titles for those books and I look at mine and try to find something in it that could be used for a good title but I can't come up with anything. Is there anything that can help me figure out a good title for my book?


Answer: There are a few approaches you could take to finding a working title of your book. All of them involve targeting your ideal reader giving him/her a hint that the story will be the kind they would enjoy.

1) Look at other books in your genre. See if there are common elements that either hit emotional buttons or give some suggestion as to what the book is about. You want the agent/editor to see your title and think "That sounds like a YOUR GENRE book."

For instance, humour books tend to have humourous titles. Many paranormal romance books have words like "dark," "night," or "moon" in the title. Others are more direct, with words like "ghost," "werewolf," or "vampire." Romances frequently use words like "forbidden," "temptation," "seduction," "embrace" or "love." Space opera books often have words like "planet," "star," "alien," or "space" in the title. Mysteries often have "murder" or "death" in the title. Westerns... well, I'm sure you can figure this one out.

Of course, not all books rely on such cliches. If they did, they would lose any kind of distinctiveness.

2) As you pointed out, some titles are drawn from the central premise of the story. Some are drawn from a place, person, event, or thing in the story that is particularly memorable, or the thing that makes the book unique or distinctive.

3) Some titles are phrases taken from the book itself that capture the atmosphere of the story. For instance, if you have a quirky main character, a quirky phrase she uses would give the reader a sense of what to expect (and attract readers who like quirky heroines). On the other hand, a sentimental story could have a sentimental title.

Perhaps the best title will be a combination of two or three of these approaches. But it's not easy to find such a title, and a working title that accomplishes one of them may be just fine.

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