I’ve started to mull over ideas for the title of my second novel. I probably shouldn’t be – I’m still at the very early stages of writing it, and fear it’s just another form of procrastination – but I just can’t resist.
There’s something about coming up with a title that I find so exciting; those first words a reader sees, the ones that will forever label the story that follows.
After a few months throwing ‘possibles’ around for my debut book, only to dismiss them (usually within seconds) as unsuitable, I was scribbling on a notepad on the train from Cheltenham to London when I had a eureka moment, pointed to my husband in a kind of celebratory way, and exclaimed (rather too loudly judging by his embarrassed look): ‘The Husband Who Refused to Die!’.
I haven’t had an ‘aha!’ as yet with the second book, so it seems like the perfect time to re-read and reflect on my recent Q&A series where I asked seven prolific bloggers, who between them read almost a thousand books last year and look set to top that in 2017, what they looked for in a title.
Although several felt that it was the cover as a whole that most influenced their buying/reading decisions, including Jules, at littlemissnosleep.wordpress.com, who described herself as ‘more of a visual person’ and Carl, at bookebloke.blogspot.co.uk, who insisted that ‘cover art comes first’, they all agreed that those few, large words on the front of a book
were a significant factor when it came to the choices they made. And several, including John, at thelastwordbookreview.wordpress.com, and Sally, at salsworldofbooks.co.uk, confessed to the odd purchase based on the title alone. I’ve done this myself, dashing out to buy The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, by Mark Haddon, after spotting it on a shelf in a house I was viewing with an estate agent.
Bloggers used the words ‘catchy’ and ‘appealing’ in relation to what attracts them. Cleopatra, at cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com, prefers something unusual so that it’s memorable, while for John it must be dramatic, and Jules likes titles that make her think
Several admitted to being tempted by food-related words. Sally and Carly, at chazwordpressblog.wordpress.com, find ‘chocolate’ and ‘cake’ hard to resist.
Carl likes an author to come up with something short and snappy, ‘five words max’, and is rather partial to simple, one-worders like Scorpius and Tripwire. It depends on the genre for Sally, but when it comes to romance and chicklit, she’s usually attracted by something humorous. Carly’s often drawn to fonts, and likes pretty, colourful writing that indicates a story full of fun and love.
There were a few pet hates. Nicola, at shortbookandscribes.uk can be put off if a title hits the wrong tone for her, while Cleopatra isn’t keen on the word ‘Girl’ (she thinks there are too many of them and ‘they all blend into one another’), and Jules tends to avoid the word ‘The’.
Above all, the bloggers wanted to be intrigued, and pretty much all agreed that my debut novel, , ticked the box on this one.
However, Nicola and Jules pointed out that the title of a novel – along with the cover image – should give a good indication of both story and genre, and as several wrongly believed my book was a psychological drama or thriller, I may have failed on that one.
So, I need to make sure my next book title is intriguing, catchy, unusual, dramatic and memorable, doesn’t include the words ‘The’, or ‘Girl’, maybe mentions food, is funny, gives a good sense of the story and genre… oh, and all that in no more than five words.
No pressure then…