Winning Book Titles

A winning book title, in my opinion, is one of the greatest challenges of an author to create. Perhaps that’s because an author is tied so closely to plot, tone and moodtheme, and character arcs to step away from the novel and be able to sum up 350 pages in one to four words (on average). Or maybe that’s just me.

Many books

Like my previous blog Cover Wars where I discussed cover art, the title should also touch the reader at a primal level as well as touch on genre. According to Seven Terrific Tips for Creating Winning Book Titles, the title should make a promise to the reader that their needs will be met. Just like the cover art.

NYT Best-Selling Books 2012 (Top 35):

I pondered the New York Times Best Selling Books of 2012. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks sits in the No. 1 spot. The title is endearing and speaks to my primal need to feel safe. Other titles are as intriguing, but some miss the mark. Perhaps certain covers and titles fail to fulfill my needs, specifically. What do you think about No. 1? Deserving? I say, Yes.

Goodreads Best Book Titles (Top 100):

Another site I studied was Goodreads Best Book Titles. These titles include both new and classics and are based on Listopia votes. Some of the titles I found to be ridiculous, but they did give me a good laugh. Sitting at No. 64 is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Again, this title speaks to my primal need to feel safe and loved in a time of fear. It’s the only book I’ve ever purchased based on title alone.

How do you come up with your title?

In the case of my current WIP, I’ve changed the working title 8 times. In fact, I’m embarrassed to detail the process, but in descending order I’ve bravely listed the iterations:

1. Faith’s Story
2. Faith’s Keeper
3. Leap of Faith
4. The Seconds Keeper
5. Enchanted Hostage
6. Her Spirit’s Bodyguard
7. Ghost Guard
8. Love in the Mist (Final Choice)

If I were to submit this to a category romance line, I might submit using a trope: Surgeon’s Spirit Fiancé

Or maybe not.

Helpful resource:

To compare your title to over 700 successful novels from 1955 to 2004, you may want to play around with a site called Lulu Title Scorer. It’s really fun! My title Love in the Mist scored a 64.8% of becoming a best-seller. One can hope!

Okay. Your turn. Do you struggle with titles? Are you brave enough to list the iterations you’ve used? What’s your Lulu Title Score for you final title?

Happy reading and writing,

Cyndi Faria

8 thoughts on “Winning Book Titles

  1. I usually take so long to think one up that I tend to stick with the first or second option.

    My completed novel is and has always been called “Dieu et mon Droit” and its sequel “Alea Iacta Est”. This is as true of my short stories as my longer work.

    The only one I did change several times was a lengthy short story I submitted to the Writers of the Future contest. It was originally called “Cyborg Noir” then “Trant: A Cyborg Noir Story”. Third choice was “Skara Brae Oceanic” (which was the name of the city it is set on) before finally “The Weight of Reason”.

    • I had a couple of years of French in high school. If I’ve translated right, your first book is God and My Right. That is an intriguing title. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. The other is about a Back Cyborg and the title is again true to your genre. And the Weight of Reason is similar to the first book, in that they both touch the reader at an intellectual level. I like that. In fact I’m reading a well written book now and find it mentally challenging and a welcomed change. Great job!

      • You are not wrong about “God and my Right” 🙂 The sequel translates as “The Die is Cast” which is very much the theme of the story.

        The Cyborg Noir title is not actually a reference to the cyborg’s skin colour, but the tone of the story. Despite being set in the future, I wrote it very much in the style of a 1930s style detective novel – an old fashioned gumshoe with nanotech upgrades, haha. The final title of that story “The Weight of Reason”, you are correct in that it is supposed to be reference the story as intellectually challenging.

        You can read the story here if you are interested. No pressure of course 🙂

  2. I love discussions of titles. It is one of the most popular topics on loops and bulletin boards. My best-selling book is Divorce, Interrupted and I think the title is the #1 reason.

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