Choosing the title for my next book

Choosing a title for my next bookChoosing a title for one of my books is a fifty-fifty proposition. About half the time, choosing a book title comes to me at the outset. It feels natural; a good fit and helps focus me on the story. When I see the title in print or repeat it to someone else, I say, yeah, that’s it. Well done.

The other half of the time, choosing a title is a bang-my-head against the wall struggle that leaves me half-satisfied – the half being that I’ve finally settled on the title. And when I share it with someone, the words stumble out of my mouth as the listener quickly changes the subject, kind of like what happens when you show a friend a picture of your ugly baby.

At times I’ve been reduced to listing first, second and third words on a page and drawing lines between them to see if any combination strikes a chord. I argue with myself over whether to use two words or three (never more than three) and whether each word should be one or two syllables (never three).

Whether I’ve fallen in love with a title or am just dating it until something better comes along, I search it on Amazon to find out how many times and how recently it’s been used and by whom. If a well-known author has used it within the last three years, I assume the head-banging position once again. If the author isn’t well known and the book hasn’t done well on Amazon, then it’s fair game.

I have no idea why coming up with a title can be so easy one time or so difficult the next. I only know that it is. But it’s no surprise that I continue to like the former better than the latter as the years go by. Here’s a breakdown of my titles based on whether choosing them was a snap or a scrap.

Easy chosen titles:

  • The Last Witness
  • Deadlocked
  • Shakedown
  • The Dead Man
  • Stone Cold

Harder chosen titles:

  • Motion To Kill
  • Cold Truth
  • Final Judgment
  • No Way Out

All of which brings me to the next book in the Alex Stone Thriller series. I was thinking about branding the series by using “Stone” as the first word in a two-word title but I quickly ran out of second words that felt right. So, for the moment, it’s titled “Alex Stone Book 2”. This means there will be a lot of wall repair at my house until I come up with something.

Image source: Naughty Architect

2 Responses to “Choosing the title for my next book”

  1. John Hancock

    Actually, my suggestion is there are hundreds of different kinds of stone, like granite, quartz, obsidian, and precious stones: ruby, sapphire, etc.
    see if any of those jumpstart your thinking.

  2. Joe Hart

    I totally agree, Joel. Choosing a title can sometimes be tricky and at others it’s just there. While I think the title is important, I think it comes after writing a great story, having it throughly edited, getting an eye catching cover, and writing a black hole of a description. Great thoughts on naming your books!