How to choose an effective title?
When citing a book, the title is the first thing you remember. Of course, there is the cover and its illustration, but when you no longer have the book in front of you, what comes to mind are these two or three words (sometimes more) prominently on the cover. Choosing the right title for your story or novel is therefore essential. It will make potential readers want to open your book or … ignore it.
Even before writing the first line, some authors have already found their titles. But for others, it is a somewhat laborious exercise. Perhaps you are in this case? It is true that summing up a story in two or three words is not an easy task.
What are the characteristics of a catchy title?
One thing is certain, today the trends have changed: as far as titles are concerned, almost everything is allowed… on the condition of being original. Authors and publishers are much less conventional than they were a few years ago. They seek first to attract the reader, even to provoke it, because the competition is stiff with the impressive quantity of books which leave each year. Standing out at all costs, already by the title, becomes a necessity. Some authors have even taken the liberty of giving a title in a foreign language to a work written in French (Time to turn by François Taillandier).
A title should not be too long
In the end, it will print more easily in the memory of potential readers. This is advice that is traditionally given to authors, but I would like to qualify it because a new trend is emerging with long titles. Here is the example of a recent bestseller written by Agnès Martin-Lugand and whose title is quite simply: “Happy people read and drink coffee”. Or “I would like someone to wait for me somewhere” by Anna Gavalda, another bestseller.
It is essential that your title is related to the theme
or the subject covered in your work. It must be consistent with the ideas, message, or testimony that you wanted to deliver. It would be a shame to mislead the reader because of an inappropriate title. This could only serve you.
Choose a track that sounds good to you
Do not hesitate to read it several times out loud. It may make you smile, but it is important.
Some suggestions if you lack inspiration
- Write down ideas that come to you on the fly. Then you will quietly sort through. Do not hesitate to combine the words together. This can lead to strange but very creative marriages.
- Test several titles by appealing to those around you without letting yourself be influenced. These are just opinions, above all do not give in to pressure, keep the last word, the final decision is yours. A title that would have been imposed on you and which you could no longer bear would have a disastrous effect.
- Read your manuscript carefully, maybe you will find a powerful expression that you used and that sounds right. She could make a perfect headline.
- Why not make a title in the form of a question which would directly challenge the reader or spare some suspense? Or in the form of an exclamation.
- Don’t hesitate to make a play on words like the excellent title of Milan Kundera’s novel: “The unbearable lightness of being”.
- Do not seek originality at all costs, seek your inspiration in existing works by browsing the shelves of bookstores or libraries. But beware, if you decide to publish, do not take a word by word title, just seek inspiration. If you go through an editor, it will search a database to find out if this title has already been used.
- A title can only be protected by law if it is truly original.
- If you are still out of inspiration despite these few suggestions, wait until you have finished writing your manuscript. You will then have an overview of your work and it will be easier for you to find a title. Or, if you have the patience, let it sit, step back.