books with the same name

Question: If you come up with the name for a book but it's the same name as another book. Is that ok? Or is that not allowed?


Answer: Titles cannot be copyrighted, so there is no rule against giving your book the same title as another.

However, the danger is that you might create confusion in the marketplace, especially if both books are in the same genre or will be published around the same time. For instance, if you were releasing a serious literary novel in 2013, a title like "Shades of Grey" might attract readers looking for a different kind of read. Consequently, they may be disappointed in your book and discourage their friends from buying it. Meanwhile, your ideal readers, the literary fiction crowd, who might love your book if they read it, might be turned off by the title.

Occasionally, you will see books given titles similar to the title of a currently popular book in an attempt to ride on the coattails of the other book's popularity. Sometimes this may be legitimate, as in the case of a parody. However, sometimes it looks like a blatant attempt to make money by deliberately confusing the readers. No doubt it works. However, smart readers will recognize the strategy. It's also tantamount to admitting that your book cannot stand on its own legs.

In the end, it is usually the publisher's marketing department that has the final say on a book's title, and potential sales are a key factor. They will generally want a title that will appeal to your ideal audience, that will make it stand out, and that will be in line with the promise of the book.

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