Thinking up Titles

child of the hive coverFor me, coming up with the right title for a book can be one of the most frustrating parts of writing but that’s OK because it’s something you don’t have to do right away. When you first start writing a book, the ideas are still forming and the novel is still taking shape. Things may change later that mean your first idea for a title no longer fits. All my books start off with a working title, but that first attempt might no longer suit by the time I finish the book. For example, my first novel, Child of the Hive, started with the working title Run and Never Look Back, which I realised no longer suited the book as one of the protagonists (the one who was running) not only looked back but went back. I knew from about the fifth or six chapter of the first draft that the title would need to change, but I didn’t settle on the title it was published under until after I’d finished the third draft.

Shadows of Tomorrow had the working title of between yesterdays front coverReflected Memories until I did an exercise with a group of other writers where we were told nothing but the titles of everyone’s books and had to guess the genre and a few other details. Everyone in that group assumed my book was a memoir so I figured it was time to come up with a new title. This is actually a really good exercise to do when planning titles – find someone who knows nothing about your book and get them to try and guess the genre of a possible title. If they’re way off, it may be best to keep thinking.

Between Yesterdays started life as Path to Abomination, a title that was a mouthful to say and might be off-putting to some readers. I knew it had to change. Besides, the new title brings it into line with Shadows of Tomorrow and makes it easier to tell they’re part of a series.

Traitor in the Tower front coverThe only book that was published under the same title it started with is Traitor in the Tower. I loved the alliteration of that one and it stayed relevant to the plot of the book from first draft to published version, so that got to stay.

I think a lot of people fret about finding the perfect title. I don’t want to deny the importance of a good title, but I want to reassure you that you don’t have to get it right instantly. It doesn’t matter if it takes you ages to find the right title or if it happens right away. It doesn’t matter if you change the title a hundred times. The title can be the last thing you settle on for your book. You can even send a book out on submission under one title and, if it keeps getting rejected, consider then that maybe a change of title would help.

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