Titles are tricksy things.
Since beginning my current Novel Experiment, I’ve used the same working title. Unfortunately I have a sneaking suspicion that I shouldn’t use that title as the final appellation of the book. This leaves me in an uncomfortable place. I’ve casually polled my readers and editors, and they have a mixed reaction to the working title. Some react very positively to it, and others hope that I’ll come up with something else.
So I’ve started brainstorming. I currently have a list of 30+ potential titles for this darn book, and I don’t like one of them. Normally in situations like this, I simply find the book’s name from somewhere in the text. There is typically a theme, or an idea, or a pithy phrase that I can use somewhere in the words, but I am having trouble finding one this time. (It doesn’t help that I feel the urge to Google every potential title to make sure that someone else hasn’t used it already; often someone has.)
Though I am probably overthinking this title business a bit, it remains true that titles are desperately important to a book’s success. A good one will cause a reader to purchase a book. A bad one will prevent a person from so much as cracking the cover. The title needs to simultaneously reflect the book’s contents as well as intrigue potential readers, and that can be a difficult balance to master.
Which means I will continue to explore titles until I find one that satisfies me.
I suspect that I am not alone in this struggle to find a title. How have you dealt with the issue? Have the words come down in a heavenly beam of light an settled on your page? Did you pick the name out of a hat? Did your cat walk through a pile of spilled flour and end up writing a phrase in the dust? I’d love to know.
Image Attribution: Fragment de sarcophage: Muses et Masque de Tragédie, Musée royal de Mariemont in Morlanwelz, 2016.