With all the books on offer, what makes a reader pull your book off the shelf? No one knows. But the title is often the first thing a reader sees, even before they see the cover, and a memorable title can capture the reader’s eye and spur her interest in seeing what the book is about. A memorable title is a definite marketing advantage.
It can also increase sales. Have you ever had someone tell you they just read a great book but when asked, they don’t remember the title? A memorable title makes it easier for readers to recommend books to each other.
So how does an author come up with a memorable title?
There are rules. It should be short. Not use unusual words. Capture the essence of the book, and so on. Nobody knows for sure but we recognize one when we see it.
My books have been nominated for awards, but I haven’t made the best seller lists yet. Are my titles memorable? Maybe. In any case, I’m happy with them. Here’s a peek at my process for coming up with them.
When I completed the first (there were many) draft of my first NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli mystery, I gave it a long title, a biblical quote purely because I liked it. Months later I found another mystery with that same title, so I made up another title. In the thirteen years before it was published the title changed at least six times, all except for the final title were just pulled out of the air.
It’s the theme stupid.
Finally, in one of my many readings of the manuscript I realized that families were a recurrent theme throughout—Corelli’s, Parker’s, the victim and the victim’s children as well. I thought the title, A Matter of Blood, captured the essence of the book and the fact that it was a mystery.
And the same thing was true of the second book in the Corelli series. The theme was families again, so The Blood Runs Cold seemed like an appropriate title. The blood in both titles refers to the familial connection.
But here’s is the thing. When you’re writing a series you need to think about the titles in advance. It was logical and I think a good choice to go with the blood titles and so far with A Message in Blood and Legacy in the Blood I’ve been able to remain consistent. And the working title for book number five fits the blood theme too. So far so good.
Authors how do you come up with your titles? Readers do titles play role in your purchasing decisions?
In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.