There’s really no easy part of writing a book, but for me one of the most difficult tasks is finding a title. Maybe part of the problem is that I want a title that knocks people’s socks off, that readers recognize as the most clever things they’ve seen in a decade. A title has to sum up the entire idea of a book in one short, pithy phrase.
No pressure there.
For some authors, titles seem easy and obvious. Take Stephen King, for instance. His titles are generally simple. Misery. Cujo. It. “It,” for heaven’s sake. What could be simpler than that?
Janet Evanovich solved the title issue by using numbers. One for the Money, Two for the Dough, etc. etc. Sue Grafton uses the alphabet. A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc. etc. OK, so I also use the alphabet. If you looked on my computer you’d find files cleverly listed as Book A, Book B, etc. Not exactly catchy.
How many books in the past few years have fallen into the “girl” category? The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo has been followed by The Girl on the Train which led to girls doing all sorts of things.
My fellow authors and critique partners use a kind of shorthand to refer to my works in progress. “The Ouija board book…the baker…the cop.”
Song titles sometimes make good book titles, and I’ve also resorted to snippets of lyrics or nursery rhymes. Mostly I’ve resorted to begging friends to help me come up with ideas.
I write long lists of words, hoping something will shake loose a thought and lead to an acceptable, if not outstanding title. I pour over song titles and google phrases when I could probably be more productive doing some actual writing, but it’s hard to get inspired by saying “I’m going to go work on Book G now.”
I thought I had an awesome title for my one, long-ago Precious Gem, namely Just a Gigolo. It fit the story perfectly. It was cute. It was clever. Or at least I thought so. But before the book hit the shelves my editor informed me that the word “gigolo” might offend WalMart shoppers, and since Gems were sold exclusively in WalMart, I had no choice but to go along with her suggestion of Man Wanted. People who ask me about that book probably think the title is “Um, Man Wanted, I Didn’t Pick the Title.” I can’t imagine why.
Do you have favorite titles? Or do you find it difficult to come up with one you like?