Naming a sequel

by Marissa

Question: If you wrote a book and it got published and there's a sequel to it do you have to come up with a title? If you can't think of anything can you just leave it blank and your publisher come up with one? Or do you still have to come up with some sort of title and the publisher can change it if they want?

Also is it better to wait until the end of your book to name it that way something might come to you after finishing it? Or does it not matter whether you come up with it before writing the book, during, or after?

Answer: As a writer, I would think you would at least want some influence over the title of your sequel. That said, your publisher's marketing department will have the last word. They will probably want a title that lets readers know that the sequel is a sequel, so that fans of the first book will want to buy it.

Between the two of you, you may decide that "First Book's Title: Part Two" will work just fine for the sequel. Or, with a little forethought, you may come up with an overarching title for the series, with each book having its own title (more or less a subtitle).

For example, in Philip Pullman's series His Dark Materials, each book has its own title while the series title lets the reader know they are part of a series.

Of course, sometimes it happens that the first book's title becomes the de facto series title. For example, in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, only the first book is called A Game of Thrones. But with the success of the TV adaptation, every book now has A Game of Thrones emblazoned on the cover, rather than the original series title.

Again, this is all about marketing. Fans of the TV series know the title A Game of Thrones and would not recognize the original series title.

At any rate, I would think you would want to come up with a working title for your sequel, even if just to keep the books distinct in your own mind while you are working on them. Naturally, titles can change during the writing process. For instance if you find you have written a phrase that seems like a much better title than what you started with, you can use it.

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