Your First Impression: The Title

  1. At conferences , we learn from both agents and editors that a title can actually be the best first impression of you and your work.
  2. A good title can catch an editor’s attention, even if it is later changed (which it usually is). It can stay in the back of an editor’s mind even after they have put the manuscript in a pile to read eventually. It might be of enough interest that they will dig the manuscript out of the pile and read your project before they had planned on doing so. You want that!!!
  3. A catchy or interesting title can entice a reader to pick your book off a shelf in the bookstore. And if the premise as explained in the blurb equally keeps their attention, they might buy your book.

A title is so much more than a simple word or string of words. It has a serious job  you need to consider when coming up with your working title (or final title).

A Good Title’s Job

  1. Indicate the genre of the work
  2. Give a sense of the tone and voice for the work
  3. Intrigue the reader into picking up the work, maybe buying it
  4. If part of a series, it needs to provide continuity.

Considerations for Choosing a Good Title

  1. Twisting a traditional phrase or well-known phrase
  2. Showing your writing style: dark, dramatic, light, funny, mysterious, sexy
  3. Hinting at the time period or location
  4. Something that fits the characters
  5. Picking an image from your story, something unusual or surprising
  6. Being unique, but short enough for most  mass-market covers
  7. Short titles work best

Inspirational Sources for Titles

  1. Music: country music songs have great phrases for potential romances, Jimmy buffet for contemporary/fun ideas
  2. The Internet Movie Database ( search for genres, characters by name, songs, titles, etc.
  3. Rhyming dictionaries for playing with words
  4. Advertisements

Testing Your Title

A website to test your title for fun, Lulu Titlescorer, at

© 2010 Starla Kaye

The Smarts Button

This website is the work of Starla Criser, an author who has published more than 50 stories, both traditionally and through self-publishing routes.