26th May 2020
5 Tips on Picking a Perfect Title for Your Novel
The title is the first thing people will read when they discover your novel. It thus needs to grab potential readers’ attention and reflect the tone and content of your book. But how can you make sure come up with a perfect title? We’ve put together a few helpful tips to think about.
1. Pick a Unique Title
Try to avoid titles that have already been used, as this could confuse potential readers. A clash with an obscure book that went out of print 50 years ago might not be a problem, but something truly unique is ideal.
You should also research the genre you’re writing in. Which titles catch your eye? Are there any trends that stand out? What interesting things do they highlight about the books? You can take inspiration from this, but you may also want to avoid any clichés you notice in the titles of similar novels.
2. Use Something Memorable
A good title should make your book more memorable, which is important if you want readers to recommend it to their friends. But what will make it easy to remember? Your options include:
- Be creative! – An original or surprising title can catch people’s attention and stick in their minds (e.g., The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared).
- Use humor – If it fits with the tone of your book, a funny title can be especially memorable (e.g., Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging).
- Mystery and intrigue – Curiosity is a powerful emotion, so think of something mysterious (e.g., The Invisible Library). You could even pose a question in the title (e.g., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).
- Poetic language – As well as being memorable, an evocative turn of phrase can help set the tone of your novel (e.g., Tender Is the Night).
3. Think About How the Words Sound
The sounds of the words in a title can also make it memorable. You could give rhyming a try (this is common in children’s books, like The Cat in the Hat or Room on the Broom). Or you could follow Jane Austen’s example and try alliteration, like in Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
In general, though, try to stick to something that’s easy to pronounce. You could go for originality with a tongue twister or something very long, but people may struggle to remember the full title if you do this!
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4. Say Something About the Novel
A good title will often tell people something about the book (without giving too much away). Here are some ideas of things you could focus on, with well-known examples for inspiration:
- A main character: David Copperfield; The Great Gatsby.
- A key location/setting: Bleak House; Animal Farm.
- A significant event: The Hunger Games; Return of the King.
- A plot-important object: The Golden Compass; The Maltese Falcon.
- A key theme: Atonement; The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
You can also combine the above, such as in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which combines a main character and a plot-important object. Make sure it doesn’t become too complicated, though (e.g., Harry Potter Competes at the Triwizard Tournament for the Goblet of Fire and Learns a Lesson About Cooperation would have been a little too much).
5. Possible Title Pitfalls
There are no hard rules regarding what you shouldn’t do when coming up with a novel’s title, but you should tread carefully. Potential pitfalls include:
- One-word titles – Single-word titles are unlikely to be unique. And in an age of search engines, using a single word for a title could make your book difficult to find online, especially if you are a new author.
- Provocative titles – While a provocative or divisive title may be memorable, there’s a risk of putting off potential readers.
- Accidental offensiveness – Check carefully to make sure the title you pick doesn’t have any unintended connotations, such as sharing a name with a controversial event, person, or topic.
Hopefully, these tips will help you pick a title for your novel. And if you are working on a manuscript, remember that our team of proofreading experts can help you make sure your writing is error free.
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