How To Title Your Book

Lately I’ve been coaching several of my clients through the process of coming up with a good title for their book, so I thought I’d share my tips with you.

Let’s start by acknowledging a few things. The publisher is usually responsible for the final decision on title, and in the query stage, it’s not that important. In fact, some agents have said they don’t pay any attention at all to titles. But at some point, you’re going to want to think seriously about this. Your title is part of the overall impression you’re creating about your book. It can set a tone and create an expectation. Whether you’re pitching to an agent, or your agent is pitching to publishers, I think you want to have the strongest title possible.

Think of it this way: the better your title is, the better your chance that the publisher will decide to use it, rather than changing it.

So here’s what I recommend when you need a title, for either fiction or non-fiction.

First, make sure you know the genre of your book, and identify what kind of feeling or tone you want to convey with the title. Write it down. This is important, as I’ve seen humorous books with dead-serious titles, contemporary books whose titles say “historical romance,” novels that sound like self-help books… you get the picture. Be clear on what your title needs to instantly communicate.

Time to start brainstorming:

→ Find twenty books on Amazon that are in the same genre as yours and whose titles you like. Write down their titles. Try to get a feel for what works with your genre. What do you like about the titles? What don’t you like? Then put the list away for awhile.

→ Sit with a pencil and paper (and maybe your critique group and a white-board) and free-associate, making lists of words related to your book. Put them in columns: nouns, verbs, adjectives. If it’s a novel, list words that describe or suggest the setting. Then think about each of your major characters and write down words that relate to them. Think about the action in the story and write down verbs that capture it. If your book is non-fiction, list words that capture what you want your reader to think, feel or do after reading it. And words that describe what your book is about.

→ Nothing is off limits—write down anything you can think of that conveys anything about your book. Use visual words that suggest a scene. Other words that evoke an emotion. A sensation. A location. A question. You should have at least 100 words.

→ See if any of the words would work as a single-word title. Then start experimenting with different word combinations. Adjective-noun, verb-noun. Keep a thesaurus handy and look up other words. Write down as many word combinations as you can. Try not to self-censor at this stage.

→ From these lists, come up with at least 20 possible titles. Then put them away for 24 hours. Two things will happen: your subconscious may still be working on it; and when you come back to your list, you’ll have fresh eyes.

→ Go back to your title list. Add any new ideas you’ve had. Then narrow it down to three to five possibilities. Run them by a few people. (This may or may not help, depending on if there’s a consensus or the opinions are all over the map.) Take a little more time before narrowing it down to one. If you can, wait another day or two.

→ Remember your list of titles from Amazon? Go back to it. Ask yourself if the title you’ve chosen would fit the list—without being too similar or generic.

A few more questions to ask about your title: Does the tone of the title match the tone of the book? Does it convey the right genre (including time period if applicable)? Would it attract attention? If the book were spine-out on the shelf (so the cover and sub-title were not visible) would it still attract attention? Would a reader have any idea what the book is about just from the title? (Sometimes important for non-fiction.)

Once you’ve made a decision—celebrate!

Q4U: How have you decided on titles for your books? Do you find yourself emotionally attached to the one you’ve been living with since you first thought of the book?

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. […] From scouring on the internet here are some tips I have picked up (thanks to Karen Woodward for her very helpful article!)  1. Indicates the […]

  2. […] Rachelle Gardner has some good advice. Of course, has some powerfully focused points on the process written by Matt Thompson. And copyblogger has a list of articles. […]

  3. […] How to Title Your Book ( […]

  4. Jo Anna on February 28, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    Hi Rachael,
    I found your blog while google searching this topic. You have really great suggestions. Thanks much for providing them. I will definitely use them. I am working on a YA chapter book about a tiny survivor from a puppy mill who ends up stealing the heart of a reluctant girl still lamenting the death of her former big husky bear of a dog. Your suggestions will certainly come in handy.
    For the record, I really appreciate the info in your “about” section. Your honesty and joy for what you do comes through. Very refreshing. You sound like someone to have a cup of tea with and visit about all things books!
    Jo Anna
    Green Bay

  5. […] 1)   Start with keywords. Study titles in your genre. Catalog keywords relating to your book. Favor nounsand verbs. Invent metaphors. Use images and symbolism. Play on current figures of speech and look for double entendre. Mix and match until you come up with a shortlist of titles. The best ones have poetic resonance—appeal both to the intellect and emotions. After sleeping on your favorites, choose a shortlist of the clearest and catchiest.  Click here to read Rachelle Gardner’s description of this approach. […]

  6. JOHN Lewis Sr on November 3, 2014 at 2:29 AM

    I’m in the process of writing a book, I’ve started and stopped and now I’m back ready to begin again.

  7. […] Rachelle Garner’s post on how to choose a book […]

  8. Words Most Revised « The Wild Writers on July 21, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    […] Gardner – How to Title Your Book Gardner gives seven strategies for brainstorming titles. Lists of words – sounds like […]

  9. Noor on July 1, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    I am writting a series of small books, not related to each other. Each one gives basic info about the subject.
    Help me chose an attractive title

  10. faithwoman on June 27, 2014 at 5:13 PM


    I know it was God that put you on my path for a time when I really needed help. I know it was God. Thank you for providing this site for people like me who want to write a book. Actually, I wrote a book and said it was for God. In my heart of hearts, I really thought that’s what I was doing and did! I dedicated it to Him first before my late mother, who I loved very much and miss terribly. You see, that was the heart I really wrote it with, the heart I have for my mother. That didn’t change what the outcome was, two royalty checks under fifty dollars and and anxiety attacks over not having marketing. It wasn’t the marketing that I didn’t have. It was the heart that I have for my late mother, I didn’t have for my God, Whom I love, oh, so much.

    God loved me with the mercy of Jesus’ death, in spite of myself being into myself, I kid you not. He healed my pain over my book and helped me to focus on my relationship with Him. We never know who we are or what we will do or be doing, until the Lord Himself tells you.

    I am a Pastor now, as I was not then. Becoming a Pastor was not the change. Remembering Jesus and what God asked Him to do for me, was. I hadn’t remembered that in 20 to 15 years ago and the last few years were a little blurry. Giving God the rest of my was all I could give Him. I didn’t have anything else and He accepted it with the continued fulfilling of the Holy Spirit that I had quenched for so, so long.

    Thank you again and stay, please, for the rest of those who felt like me. May God light your lives with the realization of Jesus’ sacrifice for you.


    Pastor Partin Lawton

    Women of Faith/A Spiritual Website

    PS If you know any Single Mothers that need help, please write or have them visit my website and they will find the help they need. Amen!

  11. bullysgirl on May 22, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Hi there. I wrote a book in 2004 and a 2nd edition of it in 2008. I now have a new version of the book, greatly changed, that will REPLACE that first book. I would like to call it a NEW book but use the SAME title. New subtitle, but same title. Can I do this?

  12. Sanivi on May 7, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Best advice I’ve read so far! Thank you!!

  13. […] How to title your book […]

  14. mcxsureshot on May 2, 2014 at 1:59 AM

  15. Anonymously Harry on March 24, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    Finally a website that helped me actually come up with a name for my story. THANK YOU

  16. Erin E Curtis on March 13, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    In the past, I’ve found a central symbol that relates to the theme of my novel and worked off of that to create a title. That way the tone of the title often matches the book. However, I have come into road blocks before where I can’t find anything, so I appreciate the advice to search Amazon. It sounds like a great way to brainstorm! Thank you for suggesting it.

  17. mansion on March 7, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    I am writing a book and its about my memories as a child and teenager in which I lived on a estate during the summer months and my uncle was the chauffer for this wealthy woman and I got to interact with all of the servants . this place was called chateau sur mer and it was located and still is in Newport, R. I. I cannot think of a name . any ideas out there kathleen

  18. 6 Steps to Choosing a Book Title that Sells on February 25, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    […] How to Title Your Book […]

  19. Lara Dunning on February 5, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Sounds like good strategies. I’m in the process of editing my YA first draft and have a working title. While I think it works I’m not dead set on it. I like the idea of using adjective-noun and verb-noun combos.

  20. […] finally, according to agent Rachelle Gardner the final decision for your title is ultimately up to the publisher, unless of course, you […]

  21. Sidney Clarky on November 21, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    I’m writing this book, or more like a portfolio which consist of short stories and poems but all them are revolving around one theme which is “Kindness” . Each story has different characters and a different plot but the pre dominating theme “Kindness” is being followed for instance, a story about a nun and how she saved a young girls life. Another story in which the neighbors help a family who are going through a rough time.

    Moreover, more than one title will be really appreciated.
    What should I call it. Please help!!!

    p.s. As im still in the process of writing, I would love and you are welcomed to suggest me any good ideas to write short stories about kindness.

  22. BF on November 18, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    I think I’ve got a great title, but part of it’s a humorous twist on a film’s title–do I have to do copyright research, etc., in order to get clearance to use it?

    • Jan Morrison on April 17, 2015 at 5:17 AM

      No one has a copyright on titles. If you want to write a book about laundry on the line and call it ‘Gone With The Wind’ you can do that. Obviously there isn’t much point in taking another’s title – especially if they are bestsellers but just so you know. It is like naming a baby. All’s fair but probably being called Marilyn Monroe isn’t going to further your success.

  23. […] Rachelle Gardner Wiki How Publishing About […]

  24. Janet on October 30, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    Can you start a title with ‘and’?

  25. Adam on October 23, 2013 at 6:12 AM

    This is superb, thank you! No name yet. but 150 words that will definitely have me on the right track!

  26. What’s in a name? on September 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    […] and other people needed to be able to relate to it. So I followed Rachelle Gardner’s “How to Title Your Book” post and, voila, Appaloosa Summer was […]

  27. Raymond Danner on September 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    As I work on three of my novels, I find myself utterly disgusted by the titles, all three of which end in “Chronicles”, and have considered the titles working-titles for a long time (one of them since ~2002!). My issue is that even through this process you show (which is usually very effective!) I haven’t found anything yet. Bit worrisome, IMO.

  28. Momina Bhatty on September 14, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    thankyou soooo much i now have an awesome title!!!! this totally worked and i signed up just to comment!!!!! whoop now i hope i can publish the book after january 2014!!!

  29. Andrew Hamblin on September 8, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Thank you so much for the advice, I’ve been working on quite a few books for many years now and only until recently I thought that they would never go anywhere. I guess I am my own worse critic but a new friend brought realization to me and I want to continue on with them. I have a lot of new and fresh ideas in mind and any advice is more than helpful. Thanks again.

  30. randomgirl332 on August 19, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    I’m writing a book and i can’t bigger out what to call it but now i know
    thank heaps

  31. […] So when deciding on your title – take your time and choose one that will help you sell your book. If you want more tips on how to select your title, check out this website. […]

  32. […] on self-publishing. How do you find one that works? There are a bunch of theories and methods, but Rachelle Gardner, an agent with WordServe Literary, talks about one I’ve heard recommended […]

  33. Shivani Yadav on August 10, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    Thanks a lot for this suggestion =)

  34. Steve Lanning on July 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Thanks, Rachelle,

    After 40 years of working with businesses and creating marketing platforms and names for them as to books, associations, institutes and clearinghouses to seminars and training courses, I can certainly vouch for your methodology.

    I will usually ask clients (or myself) to come up with a list of possible names/titles–and give me an entire page, single-spaced, of their suggestions. Then do the same for subheads if one is needed to help explain/expand or sell the title.

    As to new organizations or businesses, I encourage them not to come up with a name over four words. And, as a bonus, if one of those words can be a verb, so much the better. (That’s just how my little marketing brain works in overtime!)

    Putting all things on the table, I used to work with a lot of business authors in the late 1970s and 80s as an independent marketer. Editors from McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Dow Jones-Irwin and others used to contact me regularly to see if I had names to suggest to them.

    However, in 1983 I made the decision that authors could do much better for themselves establishing their own publishing mark (becoming the publisher). I discovered that many of my clients wanted to do seminars and other things with their book content but were prevented in some way by their author-publisher contract.

    Attending the third year the American Booksellers Association convention that had a self-publishers section and comparing it with their first, convinced me (and the ABA) that with at least business authors, self-publishing was the best decision for about 70% of business authors.

    In my talks I tell about a dear friend of mine who, at the time of his passing, had his 80th book ‘in the oven’ for a large publisher (he only worked with large publishers). I compare his career with another business writer and self-publisher I knew well who only had six titles.

    My friend usually received from $15,000 to $30,000 advance on each title. Of course the self-publisher had to do all his own marketing. I ask the audience which one do you think earned the most money. Some are not surprised to learn the self-publisher’s income far exceeded my friends!

    Thanks much for your posting, Rachelle!

  35. […] I looked for help with a Google search and found Rachelle Gardner’s post  My first reaction was that I didn’t think her suggestions would work for me; for one thing, I […]

  36. Epic Links! | Becky Black on July 6, 2013 at 2:40 AM

    […] How to Title Your Book An old from 2010 that I only just found. Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote a very useful post about how to come up with a good name for your book. Something I often struggle with. […]

  37. Denis on June 30, 2013 at 6:52 AM

    Save your time and let you come up with the names of the authors. Here on this service, it can be done.

    • Steve Lanning on July 17, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      Hey, Denis,
      This is a good service, However…

      It would be great if you would tell folks they are going to trade good dollars for their names–just as with any other professional service. It is a great idea, but a little more info may help folks greatly, OK?

  38. Ali Morris on June 24, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Great suggestions, thanks! I’ve been stuck with the same title for a while now, but as the book as evolved, I no longer think it is appropriate. I have been so stuck for ideas, but now I think I’ll give these a go! Cheers!

  39. CrimeFictionGirl on June 12, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Wow! First off, I just want to say that I really love your site, and find all the information here very, very helpful. Thanks!

  40. Waleo Evanson Funga on June 3, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    very happy please find me cheaper publisher to help me

  41. Thandeka Nkomo on May 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Thank you so much your advice has really helped. you r amazing!!

  42. Saul Bottcher on May 30, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Great advice, especially letting the ideas sit for a day or two between stages. The creative mind needs time to recharge!

    Another way to come up with a good title is to ask yourself “what is my book *really* about?”, then find a creative way to present your answer. I wrote some advice on how to use this “essence + a twist” method here:

    Hope it helps someone. — Saul

  43. On Titles | Chris Negron on May 29, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    […] From agent Rachelle Gardner: How To Title Your Book […]

  44. […] a handful of words that will attract a reader to your story. Agent Rachelle Gardner has a fantastic post with tips to help you title your book. If you are struggling to find the best title for your work, […]

  45. Sandy Peters on May 22, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    This isn’t the name I use on twitter – It is Bren Woodford.

  46. Sandy Peters on May 22, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Rachelle, thank you so much for this advice. I usually have more titles in my mind than books I have time to write but this last one is proving difficult. And, yes, the title has stuck with me since the first draft – now five MS’s later it still sits there but doesn’t quite tell all.
    We had a family brainstorming session today – some who had read it and others not but still not tempted by any. So I will continue with the list.

  47. Heather Goose on May 21, 2013 at 5:28 AM

    Thanks for posting this. I’m in the process of writing my first book and your suggestions I can see clearly are spot on. Thanks for your help!

  48. […] How to Title Your Book. This one’s a bit better. Though there’s still a focus on marketability, the author suggests extensive research and brainstorming — knowing your audience, genre and vocabulary. There’s a rhetorical-analysis bent here that I like. […]

  49. Margie Brimer on April 3, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    I could just cry. I needed a new approach so badly. I was beating my head against the wall. I am devoting tomorrow to trying this method. Wish me luck!

  50. […] Rachelle Gardner: How To Title Your Book […]

  51. Recommended | Book.ed Blog on March 3, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    […] of suggestions for authors who are considering titles for their latest book. You can read these at how to title your book. For a list of tossed titles from more classic books, visit what 10 classic books were almost […]

  52. It's Kili on February 20, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Question do you have any ideas for a title for a pirate book

  53. How to Write a Book – Part Five | Daniel Beazley on February 19, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    […] found a really good article on title creation by Rachelle Gardner and I recommend you have a read of it. Without going into what it says in great depth, she […]

  54. nebulae1 on February 18, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    What a good post. This has made me think about the title of the book i’m working on.

    I have so many titles and i’m trying to narrow down to one catchy word that describes the book.

    God or Science
    She has the Sight

    The list go’s on. If you want to have a look at the first couple of chapters and give a suggestion. I would greatful

  55. Status update | 100 Point Project on February 9, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    […] novel. However, the latter still remains undecided. I tried to come up with something good using a guide I found, but I am still not sure that I like my options; Squatters out back or The grass is always […]

  56. Titular Titles « Forty Thousand Words on February 7, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    […] on Pelican Reef” even though none of those things are in my book.  I found a blog that essential suggests writing down every word that could ever be associated with your book and […]

  57. A book by any other name … « Janis Lane on January 30, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    […] it though, and I came across a blog post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner, which you can read here. In it, Rachelle suggests a series of steps to help unlock a title for your book. I have been […]

  58. […] How to Title Your Book […]

  59. […] How to Title Your Book […]

  60. Most-Viewed Posts of 2012 | Rachelle Gardner on January 14, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    […] How to Title Your Book […]

  61. […] Read this blog by an agent containing useful brainstorming tips. 2. Ask one’s beta readers to throw some […]

  62. Guest Star; Angela Quarles « Jillian Chantal on December 20, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    […] Rachelle Gardner’s How To Title a Book •I love Katie MacAlister’s titles, so I added her name to my search parameters and came up […]

  63. Adelaide Anders on December 19, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    I have never had much trouble with titles, although for a four-book series I had trouble coming up with four one word titles that conveyed the excitement and cars and mystery and that all related to each other. But I finally came up with some!

  64. wesli on December 14, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    hey i got a great idea for my title

  65. inaz on December 14, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    i am writing a book now

  66. margaret storey on December 11, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    Love the suggestions for finding a title, found some interesting ones on Amazon that I could weave with my next novel (in the planning stage). My last novel the title came easy and I had it worked out very early in the piece. “Echoes of a Blacksmith”, ‘Echoes’ has a couple of meanings through the book.
    I also like the idea of conflict too.

  67. Kennedy on November 29, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    im twelve, and im trying to come up with a really catchy title for my book, so i tried your website, Rachelle, but i cant come up with any titles other than books i know. i wrote down the first list and thought, but every time i see one of them i cant help but think about that book and how much better it is than mine. any suggestions?

    • Fiona on December 1, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      Same Here I am also 12 and need a title.

  68. Kennedy on November 29, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    im twelve, and im trying to come up with a really catchy title for my book, so i tried your website, Rachelle, but i cant come up with any titles other than books i know. i wrote down the first list and thought, but every time i see one of them i cant help but think about that book and how much better it is than mine

  69. […] Gardner, a literary agent, has some excellent advice on choosing a title for a book (  She begins by asking a writer to identify the genre of the book and then suggests working […]

  70. RAZAK on November 25, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    am also a young writer,i have a book named I LIVE TO LEARN EVRY DAY, there are many young girls and boys who dont knw how to move with broken hrts,so it took me sam time to write this book for them buh there is no one to help me publish it. WHAT SHOULD I DO/?

    • Theodus on March 28, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      Try learning how to spell first, this might help…

  71. Alexandra on November 11, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    I’m a sophomore in high school and in my writing class, we have to write a novel (at least 10K words) this month. (It’s National Novel Writing Month, check out their website for more)
    My story is about a girl named Aspen who plays soccer and wants to go to college for it, but her mom won’t pay so she steals.
    Title ideas? anyone?

    • D on December 2, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      The runaway, Soccer mom, soccer collage, or Aspen the soccer champ.

  72. Chloe on November 6, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    My story is about poverty, I can’t think of one name for it at all

  73. […] Here’s Rachelle Gardner’s great article on the process of choosing titles. […]

  74. KaraXD on November 5, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Very helpful. i finally have a name for my book. I have been writing this damn thing for 4 and a half years. Now that i have a title i can begin printing it. Thanks for helping me!
    Keeping Skyler took forever to come up with. Now it seems so simple & i can’t believe i didn’t think of it before.


  75. The art of novel titles on November 5, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    […] same time encapsulate the novel. For an exercise in attempting to find a phrase for your own, try this article, and for a bit more discussion on the different approaches you can use, this is a good […]

  76. Deema on November 1, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Dear Rachelle,
    Im Currently Writting A Novel About Two Girls And Their Enemy That Their Suspecious About With Doing Supernatural Things Then Turns Out That All This Is Planned By Her Brother And They Team Up With Their Enemy And They Become Friend (THIS IS MY FIRST NOVEL) Can You Please Help Me With A Name? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE <3 <3 By The Way Im Only 14 And I Love Your Blog Your Amazing

  77. Rachel Muller on October 31, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    I LOVE this post!!!
    This is great advice and I am going to tuck this away in my filing cabinet for future use.
    I have three titles for all 3 of my books. Yes, they fit the genre and (I think) set the tone for the time period.

    For my first and third book I’m a bit set on the titles, but the second may need a little more thought. However, my author friends tell me to trust the agents and editors when it comes to a title change…they’ve done this before and know what they’re talking about!

  78. Dale S. Rogers on October 31, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    I was content with titles for some of my work, then I realized they were too generic. I had trouble letting go, but I
    finally replaced them with more exciting,
    definitive titles. Probably worth the change.

  79. […] question: How do you begin the process of writing a title? Rachelle Gardner, a Literary Agent, in How to Title your Book suggests that you start by finding books in your genre with titles that you like and use them as […]

  80. Fitho on September 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Great advice on the process for name ideation!

  81. Prezent dla niego on August 31, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    A great title can take you a long way.

  82. Briar-Louise on August 21, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    I’m 13 and I was wanting to get a title because I just can’t seem to write a book without getting agitated because I haven’t come up with one…
    This website helped me so much and now I can get back to writing!!! I’ve also found out (for me maybe not for you) that I seem to lose interest because I haven’t thought about the ending so I think it’s really important to get an idea about what you’re really trying to write, get an idea about which direction you want it to go so you can fill in the gaps 🙂 I hope this helps and thank you so much for putting this AMAZING website on!!!!!

  83. Patricia on August 12, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    I’m working on a fictional novel 😀

  84. Abby on August 1, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I am 14 years old. I am almost finished writing my first novel. When i was 12 I tried to write a book but felt like the plot was going nowhere. I changed the storyline this year and am almost finished with it!! This article helped me narrow down my choices to Fear Itself and Raven Peak. Thanks a bunch!

  85. […] Gardner has advice on picking a title for your […]

  86. Heather Zuber-Harshman on June 19, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    This was very helpful, Rachelle. Thanks for suggesting that I read this post and work on my title.

  87. […] How To Title Your Book | Rachelle Gardner. Share this:EmailFacebookPrint This entry was posted in Publishing and tagged publish, title, […]

  88. Sarah on June 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Lulu Titlescorer gave Unforgivable a 63.7% chance of being a bestseller!!! 🙂

  89. Sarah on June 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Hey Im 17 and Im currently working on 3 different books. All of them have started off unnamed. The name for one of them, Unforgivable, came to me after staring at my page for almost 3 days. I got up to make tea and BAM! Instant title.
    The second, When The World Comes Crashing, actually came from a line in the book.
    But the third, I had to write something at the top of the page, or it would annoy me. So currently it’s called ‘;ksusdagflashfvlk’
    I actually find that writing gibberish helps me to title my works. Sometimes letters just jump out from what I’ve written. Letters form words, and bada-bing, bada-boom, title!

  90. SummerGirl on June 7, 2012 at 1:55 AM

    I pretty much chose my title, “Forever Young” because its a novel about college students during the summer and they all just want to be forever young. My book iant finished yet though so I might decide to change it, but as of right now its forever young which also happens to be influincing my life right now so it seemend like a good pick for a book title.

    Sent From My NOOK TABLET
    Sorry for grammer/spelling errors its 1:00 in the morning and im about to go to sleep 😛

  91. Madeline on June 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Lulu Titlescorer gave the first book of my series a 41.4% chance of becoming a bestseller!

  92. […] 4. Literary Agent Rachel Gardner’s Advice: […]

  93. doha on May 13, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    what is the title you want to use is the name of a movie, but its the only good thing i can come up with-please help

  94. […] I was looking for what other people have said about picking a title and I found […]

  95. Keiva on April 18, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    I’m terrible at coming up with titles, especially for my fantasy stories. I avoid giving my work a title as long as possible. Your tips really helped though, so thank you!
    I’m thinking of tentatively titling the novel I’m currently writing “Their Eyes Watched the Ages” but I’m worked about it sounding too much like “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. I can’t think of a better title though, so I may leave it for now, because it isn’t good enough to be published anyway.

    • Keiva on April 18, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      Sorry for the last comment being so illiterate, btw. I proofread my original fiction, I swear.

  96. Jeanette on April 17, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    Great advise. I wrote a book at the age of 14 and gave it a title. Now I’m rewriting it and doing lots of additions. The main thing that does need to change is the Title. Thanks for your comments.

  97. […] What makes a good book title? Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote an excellent post on the process for creating a book cover. Here’s the post. […]

  98. Lasmkfjbhdigfbsd on March 22, 2012 at 5:23 PM


  99. Angela Tingle on March 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Great pointers and ideas!

    I’ve always just tagged my stories with flat, literal titles and saved the christening for later on when the story is better developed.

    LuLu Titlescorer gave my series title a 41.4% chance of being a bestselling title! Whoot!

  100. Mike on March 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    just want to say something about your post! i am really impressed by it. i hope to catch such interesting ideas!
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  101. Carroll B. Merriman on March 18, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  102. Angus on March 13, 2012 at 6:51 AM

    My project is called, “Rafaela’s Madonna,” and it’s set in the time of the Crusades.
    I am worried that the title is misleading however, and that anyone picking up that book would have a preconception that it was about the rennaiscance artist Raphael, who painted the sistine madonna.
    It’s not though. It’s about someone called Rafaela whose fate becomes entwined with someone who performs mystery plays as the Holy Virgin. Hence we have… “Rafaela’s Madonna.”
    Is my title confusing?

    • Boy Wonder on April 25, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      A little… You should try to write a title that really GRABS the reader’s eyes.

  103. Lizz Tayler on March 8, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Good day, I can’t find the contact form here, I want to exchange traffic with you, it would be best if you can send me your contact information, thanks. By the way, I like your blog, it’s great.

  104. shipra on March 7, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    The description:
    ”Try not to fall for me,” Ian smirked at me, ”I would rather fall in a gutter than fall for you.” I replied with my temper flaring because of his cocky attitude, ”we’ll see.” He replied, with the smirk plastered on his face, ”why don’t you get it, I love your brother.” I shouted at him, ”You cannot resist my charm cupcake.”
    For once in life Ian was going to be proved wrong, because I cannot stop loving his brother even when he isn’t around anymore.

    Follow the story of a teenage girl, who had been heartbroken twice, how she has to sacrifice everything for the love of her life, and how things never seem to fall in place. The childhood friendship she lost, the new enemies she made, all because of love and one thing all this made her realize: Love has a price!

    Okay, in short its a teenage story, its not over the top romantic more humors, written by a girl’s perspective and I am looking for some nice titles the current one is too over the top for me (Love has a price!)
    Please, I will be grateful, if someone could give some suggestions?

  105. Day Trading Software on March 4, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Interesting, isn’t it, that you ND told you that so many of your symptoms were likely related? Reading today’s blog entry, it appears as though many of your wants are related as well… The weight, the exercise, and your breathing (asthma) are the easy ones to pick out.

  106. Chautona on March 2, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Am I the only one who can’t write with a reasonable title? If I don’t have one that I like well enough to think of the book as that title, I’m incapable of putting more than a few lines down. Only half my books STAY that title, but to get started, I need a realistic option.

    For me, whether or not the book stands alone or is part of a series makes a difference. I choose titles that

    1. Would grab my own interest on a spine only. Not every book on a store shelf gets “face time” to the shopper. I want a title that jumps off the spine and says, “I’m worth a look.”

    2. Don’t have a dozen similar or same titles at Amazon.

    3. Set the tone for what I want the reader to feel when they open the cover.

    Not every book fits all three, but I do work hard to get there if possible.

    • Briar-Louise on August 21, 2012 at 5:42 PM

      Hehehe you are definitely not the only one. I can’t seem to find a good title yet so I’m going to stay put until I find one. I’m going to be stubborn 😀

    • Briar-Louise on August 21, 2012 at 5:49 PM

      And thank you so much!!! Nothing has jumped out at me yet but I will wait 🙂

  107. Denise Stanley on March 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve been living with a title, for over a year, that just doesn’t feel right.
    Thanks for this. Hopefully, I’ll have a new title soon.

  108. Adam Renn Olenn on March 2, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Thank you for this post – titling might be the hardest part of the whole process!

  109. Paula Martin on March 2, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Several times I’ve based the titles of my novels on quotations. I search on quotation websites, using a keyword which I think is the main theme of the story. When searching for ‘forgiveness’, for instance, I came across a quotation by Mark Twain ‘Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet bestows on the heel that has crushed it’. This gave me the title of my most recent release ‘Fragrance of Violets’.

  110. Harriet Parke on March 2, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Oh, no! I went to Titlescorer and my title (Agenda 21, District 14) only has a 10.2% chance of being a top seller.

    Gee, what to do, what to do? Agenda 21 is real. Just ask the U.N.

    • Briar-Louise on August 21, 2012 at 5:53 PM

      If you think it sounds right carry on and let the publisher and you decide on what the title will be

  111. Diana Harkness on March 2, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I titled my Alternative History series Chronicles of Eli. The historical fiction version is Eli’s Scroll. I use subtitles for both to further define. For essays, I usually pick a title from the theme.

  112. 賣屋 on March 2, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.

  113. Olivia on March 1, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Hello everybody! I have written many short stories in the past, starting at age 6. I am age 11 now, and started writing my own story, which I could not figure out the name of. With the help of this site, I came up with “Series of My Fear” (boring, right?). I would recommend this website to anybody! Thank you. -Olivia

  114. xtreme no on February 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I think Snooki is so cute. I’d be her man any day of the year.

  115. clara reyes on February 17, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    i am writing a graphic novel (i’m 11 lol XD) and i was having trouble choosing a title –‘ anyway this helped me alot! now i have a clear meaning of how to name my book! my book has a serious meaning considering its about civilings trying to achieve there ultimate goal(cureing 1 of the siblings) but i also wanted it to have a soft feel so….. i came up with PETAL OF PHOSFORUS) lame huh any way….really helped! ^^

  116. […] This is a very helpful article from Literary Agent, Rachelle Gardner. I think it’s applicable to print books, ebooks and whatever else you might be publishing. Read the post, How to Title Your Book. […]

  117. Elyssa on February 5, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    I’m 14, and I’ve began writing a historical fiction novel. (more fiction than anything, I say historical fiction as it is loosely based in the renaissance period). I only have the first 3 paragraphs writen, but i love where i am so far. If in a few years you see something by the title Key Elixir (or Elixir’s Key, Key to Elixer something of the like) then you know that “that science nerd” got her book published.


  118. […] 4. Literary Agent Rachel Gardner’s Advice: […]

  119. Lilly Starr Wofsey on January 15, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    I’m 11 years old, but I love to write. I’m just sort of the nerd kid at school who sits at home reading and typing. I’ve written many stories. Sometimes I struggle with them, because I don’t always follow this simple rule: Write about what you care about.
    If you write about what you care about, it should be simple to pick a title. There should be no rules besides this, for people should not be pressured to become what they are not. Writers should be the ones to ignore rules.
    I guess I can be funny when I’m feeling good, but usually, my writing is on a low note. I understand what some writers go through, but not all of them… I don’t write about dragons and spells and drama. I write about one thing… the truth. For the truth is the matter.

    Good Luck Everyone!

    By the way, check out my site called I review books. I also have a little magazine called Lilly Starr but you probably can’t get that.

    So, again…
    Good Luck Everyone!

  120. Sassie on January 6, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I’m so glad I found this, it will definitely help me out with my book titles.
    Right now I’m working on a story and I named it the mist. The title worked for me but my friend thought it sounded to much like the host which I didn’t think of until after she pointed it out.

  121. AlbaNguyen on December 27, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    The mortgage loans are important for people, which are willing to organize their own company. As a fact, that’s comfortable to get a short term loan.

  122. Julie on December 19, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    I was thinking about book titles and found this page when I Googled book titles. I woke up yesterday morning realizing that a good number of books on my bookcases begin with the word “on.”
    On the Road
    On Becoming a Novelist
    On Writing
    On Writing Well
    On Becoming a Person
    On Killing
    On Writing Short Stories
    On Art and Life
    On Becoming an Educated Person
    On Death and Dying

    So perhaps starting a title with “on” should be considered…worked for Kerouac, Ruskin, et al!

  123. sierra marchetti on December 1, 2011 at 10:36 PM

    I thank you so much for putting this on the Internet! 🙂
    I’m 14 and want to be writer so bad.
    I’m starting a book myself and I always have a hard time coming up with titles for my books. So I thank you so much!


  124. Jack LaBloom on November 17, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Great information and helpful. I wish I had found this blog post a lot sooner.

    I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feeling when he suggested I use Murder and Mayham for the title of my romantic legal thriller, so I changed the last name of my main character so the title would work.

    I’ve decided not to ask Leon for help with the title of my next novel.

  125. Mariah on November 16, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    Thanks My book now has a name (:

  126. Java the Hut on November 15, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Fantasy is gay. You are Gay.

  127. Vern McGeorge on November 14, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Excellent advice. I’ve spent a long time hating every title I came up with and while I like the one I’ve got now, I will probably do this process anyway before I publish. Certainly for all future work.

    BTW – Love your Tag Cloud – Stunning!

  128. 8 Title Books Sites | Hold Your Future on November 9, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    […] How To Title Your Book | Rachelle GardnerMar 3, 2010 This is important, as I've seen humorous books with dead-serious titles, contemporary books whose […]

  129. Debalina Haldar on October 30, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    I can’t thank you enough with words what this article has done for me. it has been so helpful. thank you so much. may God bless you.

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  131. Hauk IT - Web Consulting on October 1, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

  132. Joanne on September 28, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    …and then there’s the title change you go to your grave never understanding. Never. Ever.

    (Great post Rachelle.)

  133. karen on September 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    I have to say when I received my notification in my email this morning that you had updated your blog, I had to laugh! You must have been reading my mind when you decided to write this post!
    I was sitting on my back porch yesterday thinking, “What title do I want for my book? Here it is nearing completion and I still have not decided on a title.”

    Thank you once again for a great blog post!

  134. Dee Krull on September 26, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    I think I struggled more with the title of my non-fiction book than I did for my current book.

    The non-fiction book I am still in the process of writing is about how my family dealt with Alzheimer’s. My husband’s mother was the first, then his aunt and later he was faced with this horrible disease. I was the caregiver for all of them. It was an emotional roller coaster for everyone. For awhile I just let it go and knew it would come to me. I thought about asking the kids what their choices were then decided against it because everyone reacted differently to the news with each one.

    One day when I was getting my mother-in-law(who was always mom to me) dressed, I asked her if she wanted her sweater. She stared at me with a bewildered look on her face,which was a look she had most of the time anymore. At that moment I knew what to name the book. It is called Bewildered, sub title One Family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

    In a way, I did the same thing with my present book. I kept trying to think of a name and my friends kept asking me what the title was but I just didn’t know yet. My book is divided into two parts, Earth and Htrae. the first half is primarily about dreams and the second part is the parallel world and the mythical creatures that inhabited it. Vampires were the dominate subject.
    One day while I was in the middle of a chapter in the second half it just came to me. Dreams and Vampires.

    Am I committed to those names? Yes,I am because the first one is very personal. the second one, well aside from the fact that it is already published, I really think it is the best name for the story. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be open to another one but it would have to fit as well as the one it has.

    I’m not sure if you have the time to read all of these Rachelle, but I would like to thank you for shaking my imagination up to make me think. I have learned a lot from you. I would love to have you as an agent but I know you don’t accept my genera. When my other book is almost finished maybe you can lead me to someone as spiritually motivated and intuitive as you are.

  135. How Important Is Your Book Title? | Rachelle Gardner on September 26, 2011 at 12:02 AM

    […] How to Title Your Book […]

  136. Monica on August 17, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    I took out a white board and did what said. I listed all the Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives I could think of. There was only 27 total but it was the best I could do.
    After that, I started forming ideas and looking up synonyms for the words I conjured up. It was fun, actually, and in the end I came up with the title.


    It’s the name of my main character in my fantasy story. Thank you for you awesome advice!

  137. Laura Marcella on August 16, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Creating compelling titles is where I have trouble! I think that’s why I look at titles of books first, even before the cover. If the title grabs me, then I read the back cover summary and only notice the cover if I’m standing in the checkout line. Titles are so important!

    These tips are going to be super helpful. Thanks for sharing, Rachelle!

  138. Misty on July 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Thank you so much for this! I titled my book with a name I loved because, to me, it is an attention getter. It’s also very appropriate. However, my editor isn’t as excited about it, and I know that he knows better. I can’t find anything that I feel fits better than what I already have now, so I’m going to do this to try for a new title. Thank you so much.

  139. Jonathan of Dying to Be There on July 11, 2011 at 4:49 PM


    Interesting question…How have you decided on titles for your books?

    My hopefully soon to be published book is on hospice. So, I started with an internet search to find out if there was enough traffic to support the concept of a book on the topic. At the time I did the research, ‘hospice’ was in second place to Dying. So, the name of the book became Dying To Be There.

    The second part of the name had to do what the first did not, state the problem, provide a solution and identify the target audience. It also needed Hospice as a web search term.

    Add to this ‘health care’ as part of the face book most searched words, and one more had to be added.

    So, the long version of the sub title is….

    How Hospice Helps Your Loved Ones Live at the End of Life. It is kind of long so will be trying or massage a shorter one.

    The tag line for promoting the book will have…”What Hospice Is, What Hospice Does and Why in the Health You Need to Know.”

    Then, although my FaceBook page is new, once I get enough fans, each of the potential names will be tested to see which works.

    I have already started testing the covers at B2B Networking groups (I am an artist and a Nurse).

  140. Betsy Love on July 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Titles are something I have a hard time with. When I came up with the title for my book to be released later this month, I honestly hoped the publisher would keep my title, but knew also they probably wouldn’t. When I signed my contract, they loved the title! Yay! I thought I had hit on a winner. What I didn’t expect was the way the title would look on the cover. It was bright red and bold. Not quite how I imagined, but the more I look at it, the more I realize it’s perfect.

    With that being said the best advice on titles is to not get too attached to one. The publisher has done their market research and knows what’s selling. Trust your marketing directors. They want to sell your book as much as you do.

  141. Susan on July 11, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    I think simplicity is important when considering a title.

    There’s no magical way to capture all that a book is about in a title.

    Think of books like “The Firm” and “The Pelican Brief”.

    Sometimes there’s little need to go for lengthy descriptions.

    I love the title for my new book on fiction. It is simple and provides an overall glimpse of what will occur in the story.

    Another great example of a title that is simple is the New York Times Bestseller “The Help”.

    That title doesn’t attempt to capture everything about the book but it does provide a strong starting place.

  142. […] How to Title Your Book […]

  143. Denise Friend on October 21, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    >Another good way to come up with a title is to use an online reverse thesaurus. You can enter in a word or phrase that describes your novel and the result will be a list of ideas that reflect the theme. Give it a try, it's pretty fun.

  144. "Picture Book Pro" on April 14, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    >Although I write picture books (I was directed to your blog through Kristi Holl's Writer's First Aid blog), titles are still very important. I also MUST have a working title when I start a new WIP. More often than not, I think of a great title first. The story comes second. I know it's kind of backward, but it seems to work for me. So, yes I'm usually rather attached to my original titles. However, I'm not so attached that I can't ditch it for a better one when it comes along. Thanks for the advise. Will come in handy for those harder-to-think-of titles.

  145. Tamika: on March 9, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    >I'm so late catching up on my posts, I'm glad I could never forget your site.

    I'm bookmarking this post. Right now I believe my title works, but in the future I think it could be better. I especially like you thoughts on including my critique group in the process since they are following along with the story as closer than anyone.

  146. Joe Iriarte on March 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    >This is awesome advice. Titling works is something I generally struggle with. I always have either no title or one that seems cheesy to me. I'll definitely do a search for this entry the next time I'm trying to come up with a title. Thanks!

    (Any chance of linking to this under popular posts? It's popular with *me*, anyway. 😉 )

  147. Kate on March 6, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    >I'm definitely not committed to my title. Especially after my thought process around a recent book purchase. I was drawn to the book because of the title. It made me want to find out what the book was about and turns out, it was something I'd definitely like to read. I read. I loved it. LOVED. Will read it over and over again.

    Then I find out the book was originally sold under a different title. And while the original title was relevant, I never would have pursued it.

  148. Sarah Forgrave on March 5, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    >Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I know the title I've slapped on my current wip is not right at all. It sounds way too serious for the light tone of my M/S, so I'm going to work through this process and find something that fits better.

  149. Dave Bartlett on March 5, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    >I write fiction, mostly in the fantasy genre, and I think titling a fantasy novel is often easier than most other genres.

    I'm not keen on the idea of writing trilogies, just for the sake of it, but my latest work in progress has expanded into being more readable split between two books. In addition, an original idea I had led to the possiblity of a sequel of sorts.

    The working titles I'm using are "The Bloodlines of the Magi" for the first book, "The Heirs of the Magi" for the second and "The Rebirth of the Magi" for the third.

    I think the 'of the Magi' theme that runs throughout the series holds up especially well for fantasy. 'the heirs of' is telegraphing that it's a continuation of an earlier book, and 'the rebirth of' just cries out that it's a sequel.

    As a reader, I've always found these 'micro-synopses' very attractive in fantasy series. So I'm hoping that my working titles will eventually become published titles; I think they'll encourage sales to new readers and returning readers alike.

    What do you think?

  150. Susan Panzica - EternityCafe on March 4, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    >I have about 8 titles for my current WIP, and my favorite changes from week to week and from one person's advice to another.

    I think the title will reflect the audience. Since I'm writing sequel versions directed at teens and children, those titles will use language appropriate to that age group.

  151. Renee Miller on March 4, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    >I rarely have a title to begin with and to avoid becoming 'attached' I name the WIP after the main character. Sometimes the titles are easy, other times it takes quite a bit of brainstorming to come up with one that I like.

    Thanks for this post, very helpful, I'm definitely going to try it.

  152. Courtney Walsh on March 4, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    >I usually "hear" my title or first sentence before anything else. It's like the spark that creates the story. I think I get pretty attached, if I'm honest… because it's the trigger for the whole book and feels like a part of the story.

    Sometimes as a reader, though, I sort of gloss over the title. They kind of blend together…it's the cover art and back cover copy that really seem to draw me in! 🙂

  153. Kathryn Magendie on March 4, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    >After obsssssessssing over my title for the first book and changing it umpteem million times, the publishers came up with something completely different from what I expected. I didn't really like it at first, but, everyone else responded to it so positively, I had to concede they do in fact know what they are doing and I don't! *laughing*

    Now my novels in these VK books will be called "The Graces" which sounds lovely.

    They also just changed the title of another novel I'd had titled and put in a drawer for a few years from four words to one word. I think it's probably wise.

    So no, I'm not attached since I am not good at titles, or covers…as they pertain to sales and attention.

  154. patriciazell on March 3, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    >Right now, if my book finds a publisher, I'm pretty sure the title will be my brand: God's Absolute Love–Perfect, Complete, and Real (TM). That's the title of my blog, so it makes sense that my book would be the same title (especially since I'm writing it on my blog).

  155. Gracie Bea Winterton on March 3, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    >Thanks for the suggestions. These are great.

    The idea for my novel came from the title itself, so I'm quite attached. It's certainly not in its most marketable state right now, so I'll have to be flexible 🙂

  156. Rachelle on March 3, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    >It's perfectly fine to put your title or just your genre along with the word "query" in your subject line.

  157. Anonymous on March 3, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    >Yes, I'm attached to my title since it describes my novel without telling too much–good for a mystery/suspense novel. Is it a good idea to add the title to the header of queries to make it stand out? One agent suggested I change my title but I think it's very appropos. What do you think of adding titles to query headers?

  158. cynjay on March 3, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    >Great advice, particularly for my WIP which is 200 pages of Untitled at the moment.

    For my YA Dirty Little Secrets, that was a last-minute-out-the-door suggestion that I tossed to my agent right before she sent it out. We'd been using Hoarding Normal which was sort of "eh". Recently, on a Hoarder's episode, one of the participants said that hoarding was her "dirty little secret" and I knew that we'd gotten it right.

  159. Carrie Turansky on March 3, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    >These are excellent suggestions. Thanks Rachelle!

  160. Vicky on March 3, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    >Omg I suck at titles! This is actually really helpful, even though I do about 75% of it already. Some of those things I didn't think of. I have a horrible time with titles. Only one of my novels has a title that stands out and probably will never change, but the others change all the time and I'm never happy with them. I think about a title the whole time I'm writing the book, so that by the end, I have something tolerable to call it. I'm actually having some difficulty with the one I'm writing now, so I'll definitely sit down and do all of your suggestions.

  161. Kristen howe on March 3, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    >Great advice Rachelle. One case in point: titles can't be copyrighted. I've read books with the same title by different publishers. Sudden Death is one, both used by Allison Brennan and Michael Balkind. For my titles, these are how I came up with mine, (Nano titles alone.) The 24-Hour Chain Reaction (the show 24 plus the Fox show Drive, which was canceled, since my book takes place in 24 hours (it's part psychological thriller/police prodecural.) Venom, my first eco-thriller deals with snakes and anti-venom (already taken by Joan Brady), Double Exposure my 2nd eco-thriller (photography and chemicals), Specimen my third eco-thriller (seashells), Web of Deceit my romantic suspense (spiders and betrayal, a pawn in a game)-this title have been used twice, according to Amazon. For my two newest eco-thrillers I'll be writing this year, Cave-in (not used, deals with stalagmites and caves) and Killer Wipeout (Wipeout was used a few times, and took the Killer from previous title ideas for it, since this deals with water and whales, Seaworld tragedy last week.)

  162. Sue on March 3, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    >I decided on my two titles because I stumbled onto strong words that delivered the right amount of emotional impact.

  163. Timothy Fish on March 3, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    >The title for my last book came from Acts 16:31. Actually, the whole story started from there, but I wanted to look at a situation in which a man has recently accepted Christ, but his house wasn’t as ready to accept Christ as the family of the jailer in Acts 16 appears to be. I suppose his family heard Paul and Silas preaching and their hearts were prepared, but I wondered about a man who has taught his children that God and church are things to be ignored. What happens when he realizes the truth, but his children are too old to be taught? So, as a title, And Thy House becomes quite weighted because it isn’t clear that he can do anything and in the B-story it seems that Kelly can’t do anything to reach her mother either.

  164. Mira on March 3, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    >I'm like Catherine West – titles often come to me first. Not always, but often. Some phrase, thought or idea hits me and I conceptualize it as a title. Then I write the piece to embody the concept in the title.

    I also agree that titles are very important – especially in bookstores. If someone is browsing, a title can determine if they pull the book of the shelf or not.

    With Amazon's recommendation and review system, the title may be less important, although I do think a bad title can really handicap a book.

    Very interesting post and topic, Rachelle, thanks!

  165. Dara on March 3, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    >I try to come up with a list of a dozen or so. Most of the time though it changes as I'm writing. My one WiP has gone through three title changes and now I've found one that I think may actually stick 😛

    My other WiP I came up with the title almost immediately and it's been the best one thus far. This is very rare though, as most of the time it takes a lot of brainstorming for me to come up with one.

  166. Jess on March 3, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    >One of two things happens for me in regard to titles: Either I have one from the beginning that I love (typically the case w/ my women's fiction) or I write the whole book and still can't find one I like (more often the case with my fantasy.)

    I am attached to the two women's fiction titles I have (one book in revision, the other to be written next) because they have spunk, which works with my character's voices, but of course I'd be willing to change them.

  167. Eric von Mizener on March 3, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    >Some great ideas, Rachelle.

    Anyone interested in pushing these ideas even further might want to check out Sam Horn's book Pop! Between this post and Sam’s ideas, one can have two geniuses helping them out.

  168. Jennifer Shirk on March 3, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    >Oh, wow, this is great because I struggle with titles.

    But I bascially go to amazon, too and look at titles that have been used recently in my genre. I get a feel what publishers like or usually go with and I make sure I'm not repeating one. It's a starting point, anyway. 🙂

  169. Krista Phillips on March 3, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    >Great suggestions!!! Picking a title is probably one of my least favorite chores, ha!

    What I usually do is pick a stupid working title just so I have something to call it at the beginning. My first book I called, "Out of the blue" because I was hoping the title would come to me… you guessed it, out of the blue:-) Of course, eventually I picked a regular title that came to me as I wrote the book.

  170. Erica Vetsch on March 3, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    >So far, I haven't been asked to change any titles, but I'm sure the day is coming.

    I love alliteration in titles, and I love clever titles. I also love the unexpected. If the title surprises me, I figure the book should too.

  171. Kristen Torres-Toro on March 3, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    >Titling usually comes late for me anyway. It usually feels right, but it's comforting to think that my story isn't picked up (or is) simply based on the title. I like the idea of finding a different one if I have to.

  172. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on March 3, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    >Titles are interesting things.

    Like puzzles, they provide clues or hints.
    Like the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, they lure us.
    Like a burst of fireworks against a night sky, they grab our attention.
    The problem with liking a title I have chosen is that, while the words may do all of the above to me, the same words may do none of them to anyone else.

    That's why titles are such interesting things.

    Be blessed,


  173. Arabella on March 3, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    >The ms I am currently sending out began with a title identical to the all-time best-selling album in Ireland. I decided to change it, but was never happy about the change.

  174. Pam Halter on March 3, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    >Rachelle asked if we had a title we were emotionally attached to.

    I do.

    I'm writing YA fantasy and part of the premise is the antagonist who captures and eats fairies to eliminate them. My title is "Fairyeater." I can't imagine a better title and I'm hoping an editor will feel the same way.

  175. Rosslyn Elliott on March 3, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    >Thanks, Rachelle! This is very helpful, especially the tips about making sure the title reflects the genre.

  176. Anjali on March 3, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    >Great post. I'm struggling with this now, and am glad I now have a plan of attack.

  177. mallard on March 3, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    >I'm probably in the minority here in saying that I'm mostly glad that titles are out of my hands. I can never think of anything that sounds like it captures the feeling of my work, or is catchy enough, or whatever.

    The thought of having an editor, someone who is enthusiastic enough about what's behind the title to spend lots of money making it available to others, come up with something that strikes him or her as a phrase that will intrigue bookstore browsers is appealing.

  178. T. Anne on March 3, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    >I'll be honest the titles of my novels I really like came from poetry (not my own) and the ones I'm so-so about, I thought up. I'd rather be better at writing the novel than the title. I could always use a little help in that area. Great tips. Thanx Rachelle.

  179. Debbie (Nerd Goddess) on March 3, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    >Great post! This is some advice I needed to hear. I usually don't bother titling projects until I'm finished with them, because I'm absolutely terrible about coming up with titles. I usually call my document "[MC's NAME] Story" until I can think of something better. I always figured until I started submitting a project it wasn't a big deal, and even then if it wasn't perfect that would be okay. But it's nice having a plan, now. 🙂

  180. Marla Taviano on March 3, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    >Ha! This is my 3rd try at a comment. More coffee please!

    Nice one, Mr. Bell. ^ I think you're on to something.

    Great post, Rachelle. I love brainstorming titles and do it in my journal all the time.

    Looking forward to tomorrow! 🙂

  181. Jim Rubart on March 3, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    >My first two titles for ROOMS were awful. (No, I'm not telling.)

    After I'd boiled the story down to it's essence–a man inherits a home that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul–the title was easy.

    Yeah, it's only one word and Jim Bell makes a good point above, but I still think my title works.

  182. James Scott Bell on March 3, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    >Long titles work best: "Disraeli, Zombie Prime Minister and the Artisan's and Labourers' Dwellings Improvement Act of 1875."

    That has a "Harry Potter" sort of feel. I'll be shopping it soon.

  183. Emily White on March 3, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    >For my current WIP, I was really influenced by old Greek titles such as The Odyssey or The Aeneid, as well as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillian. I love the sensations that those titles invoke, so I came up with Aurumenas. Meaning the Search for the Child of Auru in my book, the story centers around a young girl and her discovery of who she really is and El's purpose for her.

    I would probably give it up if an editor was adamant, though. In the end, you have to submit to someone's particular expertise.

    • ava burke on May 22, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      if you need a good title come to “Publish” believe me i know titles like i know school.

  184. Liberty Speidel on March 3, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    >Choosing titles for me is usually tough. While I may start with a 'working title', a lot of time I don't. My current WIP that I'm polishing went through about 3 or 4 titles before I finally landed on the one that's stuck for the last couple years. While I'm happy with the title, and I hope an agent/publisher will be too, I know it may go.

    Fortunately, I've done a scan for the same title on and have found only one book (likely in my genre) with the same title! Of course, that one book is by Orson Scott Card…. Hmmm…

  185. Nicole on March 3, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    >I don't like coming up with titles. I save that part for last. I write the whole thing, edit, write a synopsis, do everything else first then make up a title. I usually go through several but I am never dead set on one. I am open to the possibility of it changing.

  186. lynnrush on March 3, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    >Great post! I usually just do the brainstorming thing then throw it out to my crit partners. We hash it around then come up with something fun.

    I'm not married to the titles I pick, because I've heard they are changed more often than not by the publisher.


  187. Beth on March 3, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    >In addition to everything you mentioned, I also do an search of a potential title. Do you really want to be one of a dozen books out there with the same title?

  188. Debbie Maxwell Allen on March 3, 2010 at 8:53 AM

    >Great post!

    Just for fun, I like to run my title possibilities through Lulu's "Titlescorer". They've come up with a program that analyzes the titles of NYT bestselling books back to 1955.

    You plug in your title, and the program will compare it to the qualitites of the bestseller titles. It spits out a percentage of your title's chances of success. Take it with a grain of salt, however, since some titles (like The DaVinci Code) scored low, but hit the big time.

  189. Erika Robuck on March 3, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    >I played with many ideas for my historical novel set on a Caribbean sugar plantation called Eden, but the name "Eden" felt too romance-y. I made many lists–including Paradise Lost (hey, there's no copyright on a title, right?) but settled on a line from a poem of a dying slave that I'd placed at the beginning of the book. The slave implored God to "Receive Me Falling" into heaven–not as a stainless being, but as a sinner rescued from his earthly hell. That seemed to capture the themes of the book and the historical setting.

  190. Nicole Unice on March 3, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    >I read through the post..and at one point, I thought the advice said "take a nap"…which is probably not a bad idea. Sleeping on it, letting it rest, marinate, process, whatever, can be helpful.

    Great thought too to picture it on the bookstore shelf: will it convey enough to have someone want to slide it out and read more?

    Trying to hold my current WIP title loosely, after reading this post! Great stuff!

  191. Susan at Stony River on March 3, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    >I have a dreadful time choosing titles. For me it's something like trying on new clothes: what I like best isn't always what fits/looks/flatters most, and it's so difficult to judge objectively.

    When I pass a manuscript off to beta readers I offer homemade brownies if they can come up with a better title LOL

  192. Timothy Fish on March 3, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    >For non-fiction, I think the best way to title a book is to pick a search phrase that people will use when searching for information about the topic online, thus the title Church Website Design. If we tried that with novels, we would have titles like A Romance With an Alpha Male and a Librarian. Or in my case, A Story About a Man Winning His Family to the Lord or The Story of a Girl Finding a Step-mother Through an Online Dating Service. It’s not very catchy, but it would be truth in advertising.

    The premise usually yields a title before I start writing. I don’t spend much time brainstorming a title because ideas pop up while I’m writing the book. Working titles tend to go by the wayside as the story takes shape because I discover that what I thought the story was about isn’t accurate, but by the time I finish the first draft, I usually have a title that I’m fairly attached to.

  193. Catherine West on March 3, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    >Trying again, my post disappeared. I was saying that I guess I do things backwards because I will usually come up with the title at the same time as a story idea, sometimes even before. I'll think of a cool title and play around with some story ideas to see what happens. I guess we all create differently, but that's my method. I don't ever feel stuck to a title and sometimes I do change them if the story has veered in a different direction and the title just doesn't fit anymore, but usually I'm pretty good at nailing it. I probably wouldn't pitch a fit if a publisher wanted to change a title – I'd probably let them call my book whatever they wanted if they were willing to publish it!
    I like to use the method you describe for coming up with taglines. Those are harder for me. Now what's your quick and easy foolproof method for writing a synopsis??!

  194. Amy Sue Nathan on March 3, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    >My novel has had a long list of titles — I've liked each one but didn't mind changing it when the better one hit me. But strangely, I must have a title. I can't work on something without one! So even if I start something new (which I have) I just name it. As I write, titles come to me and I change it on the Word Doc and in my head. I think for me, a title makes it "real."

    I've done the brainstorming/free association thing too — and it really does work!

    I LOVE great titles.

  195. M Clement Hall on March 3, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    >A very successful author, winner of giant prizes, was giving a lecture to a writing class and stated he chose his own title, it had a specific meaning to him, and he would not permit it to be changed. He had no answer to the questioner who asked, "Why does the German edition have a totally different title?"
    There seems to be a conundrum here. Some agents report being turned off by a banal title or intrigued by a mysterious one, which is the first step to getting one's foot through the door. Then everyone seems to agree, the author loses control of his book and anyone in the chain can alter the title. Authors of little consequence to the publisher should not fall blindly in love with their own choice.

  196. Cherie Hill on March 3, 2010 at 7:20 AM

    >This was really helpful Rachelle…thank you!!

  197. David Sheppard on March 3, 2010 at 6:57 AM

    >I believe the best titles reflect the central conflict, as in "Kramer vs Kramer." Since the central conflict also provides the theme of the work, the title will then fit the work perfectly. "The Great Escape" is another good title. But this isn't necessarily true. I've always liked the title "I, Robot…" which reflects character. "Animal Dreams" is another one I like, and it doesn't reflect conflict. Finding a good title is an art, just like writing the book.

  198. Mary Anne on March 3, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    >Titles are hard! They're especially hard if the book relates to your profession. Then sometimes – to you and only you- the title sounds interesting.

    For my first contemporary, legal romance/thriller, my original title was Criminal Sexual Communication. What was the feedback? "It sounds like a textbook." I thought it sounded snappy.

    Ended up using the title E-mail Enticement but I'm not sure how much better that is really. My new one is Griffin's Law, named for one of the characters and his personal "law." It's intended to be in the spirit of Grey's Anatomy.

    I thought of naming my hero in the new one "West" and then calling the book West's Law, which would have been much more similar to the feeling of the Grey's title.

    But I do legal research for a living and hero's last name or not, the title would have reminded me of work everytime I saw it. Again, I may have been wrong.

    Maybe titles wouldn't be so hard if I wasn't wrong so much!!

  199. Jessica on March 3, 2010 at 6:42 AM

    >Oh no!!! Hahaaa! I was going to post about this on Friday!! Still will, but now I have a helpful link to include.
    I'm coming back to read this since I'm one of those whose title doesn't match the genre. LOL

  200. Andrea on March 3, 2010 at 6:32 AM

    >Thanks for the great advice! I've been trying to think of a better title for my current work-in-progress. Your thoughtful strategies are a much better approach than trying to pull one out of the air.

  201. Katie Ganshert on March 3, 2010 at 6:04 AM

    >I have a process for outlining, for writing a rough draft, for revising….but I've never (until now) had a process for picking a title. Usually it just sort of comes to me, like character names. Sadly, my titles tend to get taken. The only title I'm super attached to, which I know I need to get over in case I can't use it, is Wishing on Willows. I think it sounds cool and it goes really well with the book.

    I'm interested to see what I'll have to change my 4th book title to.

  202. GalaktioNova on March 3, 2010 at 6:03 AM

    >Thank you so much! I'm struggling with the title for my book at the moment so I really appreciate this advice!!

    I also couldn't help thinking how many good but by now completely forgotten novels I read in the past had totally inappropriate titles that probably robbed the books of success they deserved.

  203. Xuxana on March 3, 2010 at 5:39 AM

    >I went through a similar process to figure out the title for my book. Recently I've had my doubts about my title, but since reading this I'm pretty confident about it now. Thank you!

  204. Jeannette Towey on March 3, 2010 at 5:14 AM

    >I'd add one further caveat. Don't use Latin!

    I gave one novel a Latin title. It made total sense for the novel and it was alliterative too. Then I found out that a major reason why it was being rejected by agents was because it had a Latin title. The only trouble is, every other title I come up with is nowhere near as appropriate as that Latin one.

  205. Christina Farley on March 3, 2010 at 4:38 AM

    >What a great post. I love how you broke it down and gave such specific advice. Thanks!

  206. Tammy Gallant on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    >I find that not only in my own writing , but in my favorite books, the title comes from a pivotal line in the book.

    As to if I am in love with my title, YES! I don't think that any other title would work, but I know that publishers are more experienced than I am. I will be open to their ideas when the time comes.

  207. Mark Wise on March 3, 2010 at 3:30 AM

    >In my current WIP, I knew I wanted the main character named Araceli since I knew someone by that name and liked it. In Spanish, this name translates "Altar of Heaven" which just so happens to be a really cool book name.

    One additional note which I think is important in selecting a book title, Google it to make sure it has not been taken already. I doubt a publisher will use your title if another book (with any measure of success) already has it.

    • Laura on June 15, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      I usually Google the title and then search for it on Amazon to see what other books come up.

      • Briar-Louise on August 21, 2012 at 5:18 PM

        Thanks that was a great idea and helped me to narrow down my choices 🙂

  208. Anonymous on March 3, 2010 at 3:25 AM

    >SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, 3AM: God awoke me from sleep, and for over 5½ hours spoke about America's future. His voice was stern, yet also sad. Finally He said, “TODAY will change America; turn on your TV right now.” I ran. When it came on, a news flash cut in instantly; it showed smoke billowing from one of the World Trade Center towers.
    Based on the above, it was easy to title my book America's 3AM Call.

    • Brody on May 2, 2012 at 10:49 PM

      the first plane didn’t hit the tower until 8:45

      • Eleanor on May 18, 2012 at 6:50 PM

        he said god talked for 5 1/2 hours. by that time, the first plane would have hit the tower.

        • Anon on August 30, 2012 at 9:57 AM

          So instead of preventing the disaster from happening or warning the people in the towers God decided to talk for over five hours to someone not even involved in the tragedy? Wow, his powers and mercy know no bounds…

          • Blake on October 4, 2012 at 3:40 AM

            please dont talk about God, somethings are ment for us to not find out its apart of our faith not just Christians everyone… I do not like that comment at all.. But its ok remember God send Jesus to die on the cross for our sins…. Remember this name.. Blake Wilkerson… this isnt the last time you will here it trust me…I know what hell feels like

          • Blake on October 4, 2012 at 3:44 AM

            also, im writing a book about my experiences

          • Blake on October 4, 2012 at 3:45 AM

            im writing a book about my experiences

          • courtney on February 26, 2013 at 8:43 PM

            God didnt help maybe because it was the time for them to go. God works in mysterious ways, some ways we will never know. God loves you no matter what. that saying “things happen for a reason.” they do some reasons we will never know about, cause we just dont need to.

    • Monica Russell on June 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      This was very wonderful,Rachelle.Thanks for suggesting that I read this post and work on my title.

      • Blake WTF on October 11, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        Blake, he can think what he wants… fuck off

        • Arina on November 12, 2012 at 11:31 PM

          Why are you getting upset? Blake hasn’t said anything bad- he requested that Anon not speak about God, quite politely actually. If anything, Anon would be in the wrong. He was being sardonic and deserved the reply that he received.