Titling a Novel

Question: Thanks to your website, I've figured out a LOT about my plot and my characters that I wouldn't have otherwise. I have a plot solid enough that I can write to the plan and have wiggle room for inspired moments. It seems all ready to finally come from my head onto paper - except one problem. I have absolutely NO idea what to title it. Any suggestions for titling a novel? Thanks!

Answer: Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you're finding this site helpful.

Choosing the right title for a book is a bit of an arcane art. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about it for some time. A working title, even a bad one, will do for now. Expect the title may change several times before your book is published.

(As a matter of interest, film companies always identify screenplays by "loglines" - brief synopses of the story - rather than titles because the titles change so often before a film is released.)

Once you've finished a first draft, you may find that a particular phrase you've written will make a better working title than what you started with. Or you can base the new title on a key image, core idea, main character, etc.

A title that invokes curiosity or has appeal for your target audience is often good, because it will attract people to pick up the book. Think about how titles like The Dork Diaries, The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, To Romance a Charming Rogue, or Starship Trooper instantly communicate who the book is for and what the genre is.

But even when you start submitting your book to publishers, you should still think of the title as a working title, subject to change.

If you eventually sell the manuscript to a publisher, you may find that the marketing department has the final say on what the title will be. They will want a title based on what they feel will sell best.

As you may imagine, that's a long way down the road. So for now, just concentrate on writing the draft.

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