By Jenny Hilborne
Author of psychological mysteries and thrillers
Title is a big deal, maybe more important than the cover. Just like newspaper headlines, it has to have the power to grab attention. Choosing a good book title is difficult and it takes a lot of time.
As I remain undecided about the title for my upcoming suspense, I wonder how many other authors struggle with choosing their titles. How much attention do readers give to a title? Often when I've read a good book, I'll remember bits about the plot, perhaps not the characters, but I'll always remember the title.
A purchase could be based on a title alone, especially if it's a cool or intriguing one. I'm trying to remember if I've ever bought a book based on the title alone, but I'm sure I've certainly picked one up. I see it happen at book festivals, when a potential reader sees a book on a table that catches their eye and comments on the title. An interesting title gets the book in their hands. A great title offers the promise of a terrific story.
Some authors find it difficult to work on an untitled project - myself included, and we spend far too long analyzing labels instead of writing. When I think of titles for my work, I try to come up with key words in the story. If any jump out at me, they go on the possible list. In two or three words (I prefer short titles), I have to convey what the general story is about. It's not easy.
Putting on music, having a glass of wine, dimming the lights....none of this works for me when choosing a title for my books. Not even staring at the ocean. For my work in progress, I've put it out for a vote - and still can't decide. Maybe I'm overthinking it and if I forget about it for a while, the right title will come to me. That's the plan for now. While I was hunting around the web for ideas on creating a compelling title, I stumbled across a blog post by Michael Hyatt using the acronym PINC, which stands for Promise, Intrigue, Need, Content. Hyatt's post includes some good info. For anyone interested in reading it, I've included the link:
In his blog post, Hyatt states great titles do one or more of PINC: make a promise, create intrigue, identify a need, or state the content. This helps. I've noticed when I buy books, I'm drawn to the intrigue part of PINC, to the titles that raise questions in my mind; what's this book about? I think he's right that a title goes a long way towards making or breaking a book's success and it is worth spending the time to come up with the right one.
Readers: do you ever buy books based on title alone?
Authors: Do you change your title as your story develops? How do you know when you've found the right one?