Finding The Perfect Title

Recently, I blogged on 99cents ebooks (What's In A Name?) about the importance of good titles.

I thought some more about this and came up with some tips to help you if you have a tough time finding the perfect title.

Title First Aid

1. Listen to music – with and without lyrics. Lyrics might give you a word or phrase that inspires. Just music alone may emphasize the tone or mood of the book and put you in the mood where your brain is more creative and will spit out words that might become a title.

2. Read: the classics, poetry, the Bible, Shakespeare, dictionaries of proverbs, cliches, or slang phrases – depending on what kind of book you've written. Countless numbers of books have titles from the Bible or Shakespeare's works. Mine what you read for titles and let what you read make your imagination soar.

3. Watch movies and television. Make terse notes -- using just a word or two -- about the impressions you get from what you watch.

4. Brainstorm. Do this by yourself, with family, and with friends. Have a title party. Invite some writing friends and sit around and spew words. Title by committee which, I'm guessing, would be similar to television and movie writing by committee.

How To Brainstorm

1. Make a list of words that you think describe your book – adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs. Write down every word you can think of that depicts the plot, the tone, the theme, the action, the hero, the setting, the relationships, etc. Maybe listen to music that you've "matched" to the book while you do this. Then look at the list of words. Draw circles around the ones that resonate. Can you combine a couple into a succinct title?

2. Try the 2 column method. Arrange the words you've thought of in columns. Adjectives in one, nouns in another. Do the same for adverbs and verbs. Then pick 1 word from each column to arrive at an adjective and noun or an adverb and verb phrase.

3. Use all this to go off on any tangent that leads you to another phrase or word.

Unharness Your Imagination

When you brainstorm, don't harness your imagination by sticking to a category. Combine a note you made about a book or movie with a word or two about your particular story. That's how I came up with the title for the book that I'll soon publish -- Scents and Sensuality.

I was reading Sense and Sensibility again, and it suddenly hit me -- a play on words with Scents taking the place of Sense because the heroine of my book is a perfumer. Sensuality because it sounds somewhat similar to Sensibility and the pairing reminds me of the Austen title. Also, body scent is directly related to sex appeal and perceived sensuality. The science of sex appeal is another important element of my new romantic comedy.

Takeaway Truth

A rose by any other name might still smell the same, but a book by any other title might never get bought. I think Margaret Mitchell was smart to cast aside her original title, Tomorrow Is Another Day, in favor of Gone With The Wind.


  1. I am wrestling with this issue on a current project. MM's title came from a phrase in the book. Thank you for thoughts on other places to look for a title and good luck with your new book!

  2. Karina Russell ... I know MM chose the title because of that phrase, but it didn't have resonance. The GWTW title -- along with the sweeping saga -- helped elevate the story to mythic proportions.

    Good luck with finding the perfect title and thank you for your good wishes.