Does Your Book Title Matter?

July 29, 2011 at 7:37 am | Posted in Writing | Leave a comment
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I was looking through the library shelves today for something to read. I came across a book with the unusual title “Poking at Seaweed with a Stick – and Running Away from the Smell”. My eyes passed it by … and then were drawn back to it. I pulled it from the shelf to have a look at the back cover blurb. And I brought it home with me – I’d been hooked.

Does your title matter? My oath, it does. When a shopper picks up your book from among a multitude of other books, it is because something has spoken to them. It may be the cover of the book, but often, it is the title that attracts them first. So, how do you get a title that draws a reader to your book?

I decided to do a little research, and I found that most articles on book titles refer to non-fiction books. They talk about making the title a positive one, reflecting the content and meaning of your book. That’s okay, but I write fiction and memoir, and I wanted to know what makes a good title for those. I found a few items that dealt with books other than “How to” do this or that. Most of them referred to self-published books, as a publisher will often decide on a book’s title unless the author has come up with a great one. Here is a summary of the suggestions the authors made.

  • The cover is the first thing the reader sees. It creates an impression. You want that impression to be a positive one. While the cover design may attract, the title is just as important;
  • Generally, a short title is best, so it can be read in a glance, eg Jaws or Bliss. However some long titles work if they make the reader wonder what the story is about, eg Eats, Shoots and Leaves, or the title mentioned above.
  • Use strong visual images. Alliteration, rhyme or repetition also work well;
  • The figurative and the abstract are more attractive than the literal, eg Catch-22;
  • Have the tone of the title match the content of the book;
  • Use a character name, or a phrase from within the book, eg, Oscar & Lucinda or To Kill a Mockingbird;
  • Include a hint of mystery or adventure, words that intrigue or arouse curiosity, eg Chicken Soup for the Soul or The Bone People;
  • Research book titles to see what sells, what you like or dislike – and why. You will find plenty of titles on Amazon;
  • Brainstorm, alone or with your critique group andrite down lots of words – verbs, nouns, adjectives – that relate to your book’s theme, content, setting, characters, action. Then put them together in different ways to see what you come up with;
  • You must be happy with the title yourself.

As you were writing it, you gave your book a working title. Sometimes, that can end up as the final title. However, be careful you don’t become too attached to it, because it will be harder for you to change it to something more appropriate and attractive to readers. I think that if I had done this bit of research before publishing my first novel, I may have ended up with quite a different title for it.

© Linda Visman July 2011   (563 words)

Battling Through

July 19, 2011 at 9:49 am | Posted in Writing | 1 Comment
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I received fifty copies of my novel today – I never imagined being able to say that, but now, I can see them in the box I just picked up from the Post Office.

It took me four years to write Ben’s Challenge. All the way through, from the idea (it was originally going to be a short story) to the completion I had to battle to get it done. No, it’s not that I can’t write, or that it took many revisions, or that I didn’t know where the story was going and what I wanted it to do. And it’s not that I don’t know my grammar, punctuation and spelling either – I grew up in an era when schools taught that kind of thing. No, the problem was deeper than any or all of those.

My problem was a lack of confidence in myself, which manifested itself in many ways. The main issue I had to overcome was procrastination; after all, if I didn’t write, nobody could say it was rubbish, could they – and that included myself.

A life-long struggle with depression also helped make my self doubts into mountains I was certain I couldn’t climb. Even when my critique group expressed admiration for my style of writing and for the story, I wasn’t able to relax and go with the flow.

Funnily enough, it was during my eighteen months of treatments for breast cancer that I wrote the most easily and with the most confidence. I suppose my writing was no longer my sole focus, so I took the pressure off myself. My self doubts became background noise, which I could often ignore.

My book will be launched at a Writers’ Expo that my writing group is holding on the 6th of August. Two other members will be launching their maiden books too, so I will not be the whole centre of attention. I can handle that. And I am looking forward to seeing my creation in the hands of my readers. It took effort and tears, but I battled through.

“Ben’s Challenge” by L.M. Visman is a story for Middle Grades to Young Adult. It tells the story of a boy’s desire to discover who was responsible for his father’s death; his struggle to come to terms with his loss; how he finds friendship and learns to trust again.

It is available as a Print-on-Demand publication from

© Linda Visman 2011

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