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Naming Your Novel

Here's my thoughts about naming your novel...

Looking over my bookshelves right now, I can’t say that most of the titles there really jump out at me. The content, yes. The titles not so much.

There’s The Constant Princess, The White Princess, The White Queen and other such historical fiction books by Philippa Gregory.

All rather generic sounding, if you ask me. I only bought them because I know I appreciate the author.

Over in my fantasy section, there’s examples like Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire and Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Again, just eh there.

The first was recommended to me by my then boyfriend. The second I found while browsing Barnes & Noble bookshelves. At first glance, its cover made it seem like it featured a female protagonist who wasn’t a complete… ummm… overly liberated individual.

That's a bit rare and therefore refreshing in the female-driven fantasy segments these days.

Looking over all my books across all my preferred genres – which are pretty widespread – I’d say that maybe 3% have titles that were the determining factor in why I bought them. There’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner.

Over in the non-fiction section, Your One Word is fairly catchy I guess. And I will admit that I bought In the Kingdom of Ice because of its title. That is to say, I bought it because of its subtitle: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette.

It had my name in it. Spelled correctly!

That never happens. So purchase it I had to. (Also, it was totally worth it.)

But for the most part, it’s not the titles that drag me in. It’s the covers. And I’m imagining that, if I took a poll, most people would agree with me.

We’re all drawn to a certain kind of image or images. Maybe it’s a stark background with big letters no matter what those letters spell out (e.g., pretty much think of every thriller cover ever devised).

Perhaps it’s two people thinking obvious smoochy-smoochy thoughts (e.g., pretty much every romance cover ever devised).

Perhaps its muted hues (e.g., pretty much every literary fiction cover ever devised).

Whatever it is, that’s what’s going to reel us in 97% of the time. Maybe even more.

So when you’re naming your novel, don’t stress too much about finding something utterly perfect. Anything really can go.

Concentrate your creative energies instead on what the front cover should look like. Because chances are, that’s going to be your moneymaker. Not your title.

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