Name of Novel?

by cliff hall
(Dartmouth, NS, Canada)

Question: Is it permissible to write a novel (story) which will have the same name of another novel or book? Example: "Dark Night" by John Doe......" Dark Night" by Bill Smith??

Thanks,
Cliff

Answer: Yes, it is permissible. You cannot copyright titles.

However, it is usually a bad idea from a marketing stance to give your book the same title as another book in the same genre that is still in print. If you do, your efforts to publicize your book may end up generating sales for the other book instead. The more successful your book is, the more this is true.

If someone wants to buy your book and ends up buying a different book because it has the same title, they may be disappointed and annoyed. And if they are not disappointed and annoyed (because the book they bought was better) that is also bad. Either way, you've just lost a potential fan who might have bought your next book.

At the same time, giving your book the same name as another a very successful book in an effort to piggyback on the other publisher's marketing efforts and, in effect, steal sales is deplorable. No one would do this unless they knew, in their heart of hearts, that their book was inferior and could never succeed on its own merits. And if that's what someone thinks of their own book, they shouldn't be publishing.

If you believe in your book, you should want it to stand out, and that means having its own unique title.

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