Splashing About Titles

By Lisa Lickel, author of Meander Scar

Quack! ‘Scuse me while I wiggle my feathers. Thank you, Brenda, for this opportunity to swim in your pond. I love splashing in new waters.

Hmm, when did I realize I was out of formation? Probably the first time I foundered when some fellow multi-published authors, an editor, and my agents did not like my choice of title for my newest release. I mean, really, who wouldn’t like a water-based title? Meander Scar. Okay, sure it’s a tad on the harsh side, but it fits the story. And the tag: Love can heal even the deepest scars. I didn’t make it up, but I like it.

Advice. Brenda thinks I could advise someone. High praise, indeed. She didn’t exactly tell me what, so let’s chat titles since I’m thinking about them. The first piece of advice is find something short and not used recently or well by someone else. You can find titles by hopping on Amazon and doing a search of something you like. I do that with all my work, even a general “google” search, too. The closest I could come was Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. I did change my title once. I used my theme Bible verse and figured that once I was famous, I could go ahead and write another book with my original title. Another title I checked was for a novel I’m calling Innocents Pray. Only one other book had that name – the non-fiction account of several nuns who were massacred several years ago. I figured I was pretty safe with my choice.

Besides not being too popular, too long, or unpronounceable, a title should fit the scope of your work. A good way to brainstorm is to begin with a one-word theme. Find quotations with that word. Books in a series are fun to name. Think of all the mystery books out now. Just like sports writers, mystery novelists come up with the cleverest titles. Something in the book can trigger a title. For instance, the above-named Innocents Pray (theme: control) takes place in a hospice with a lovely water sculpture in the lobby. I’ve named the second book after this fountain, Tears of Eden (theme: forgiveness). An earlier book of mine, Healing Grace, uses the title as a direct play on the theme and the name of the main character. Brainstorm a page full of potential titles, then go ahead and google them. Have fun. One title breadcrumb might paddle you toward another.

Which leads me to my second piece of advice about titles. Don’t fall in love with your choice. Really. If you want to see your book in print, don’t sweat the stuff if your publisher thinks your story would do better with a different title. None of my articles and my first book didn’t keep my original choice of title. The first book’s was too long, and I was okay with changing it. But that’s a whole ‘nother ducktale.’

To recap: A title should reflect the personality of the book. It should give the potential reader a flavor of the icecream she’s about to lick, and it should not disappoint. Research. While titles and ideas cannot be copyrighted, you might want to consider what the potential title means. I once chose something for an article that I had no idea was a vernacular for a gay/lesbian issue. You should use the message of your title or point to why you chose it in the first third of the story. If you’ve got something off-beat, like mine, you should at least explain it, otherwise you disappoint and annoy some of your readers into not trusting you with subsequent books. Use this title in your proposals, but be prepared to give or take other suggestions from your publisher. Some argue that titles sink or swim your work; others think a picture is the more attractive lure. Think of your audience. Go stalk the shelves at your nearest bookstore and watch what people pick up and put back down. Then go ask them why. Don’t worry – if you live in a big enough town, you’ll never run into them again.

My website: http://lisalickel.com

Come find me also on facebook, shoutlife, edgy christian fiction lovers, she writes and goodreads

My books:

The Gold Standard, a cozy mystery from Barbour

Healing Grace, an inspirational intrigue from Zumaya

Meander Scar, inspirational romance from Black Lyon

These are the links for above:






Author: Lisa J. Lickel
ISBN: 978-1-934912-23-2
Price: $16.95 paperback
Price: $8.00 Ebook (PDF format)
Pages: TBD paperback

All contents of this site belong to the authors designated and may not be copied or printed without written permission from the owners. Thank you.


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