How do you choose a title?

Often, authors have the perfect title for a book before they’ve written a single word of the story.  Others never name a novel till the very end.  I’m guilty of the first.  I’m also guilty of changing a title a hundred times while writing the actual novel.  I’ve gone through about eight titles for my current manuscript I’m working on.

It’s always fun to consult the Lulu Title Scorer. I’ve been addicted to this thing for several years now, often trying out titles that I think of.  I also love to try out titles of books that have already been published by well-known authors.

The title of my current book, STEALING WISHES, scores a 79% chance of being a bestseller, while some of the working titles of my next book have only been scoring 26%.

Give it a try and see how your title or the title of your favorite book adds up.

Here’s a few I tried just now while writing this…

Twilight scores a 35%.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (one of my personal favs) landed a 26%.

Fellow reviewer LK Gardner-Griffie’s book, Misfit McCabe, scored a 70%.

While I don’t take the Lulu Title Scorer results to heart, I usually like to choose a title based on a phrase from the English language that we often over use without knowing it, or I like titles with some sort of hidden meaning.  For instance, my first book’s title is The Other Side of What came to me as a result of the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Stealing Wishes was the result of seeing a homeless person get arrested on COPS for taking money out of a fountain.  I had already added that as an odd habit performed by my main character, and the title just popped into my head after that.  Originally, it was to be called 32 and Counting (which only scores 34% on the title scorer).

My next book was written under the title For The Most Part. Again, a phrase we use a lot but I’m afraid it may be too vague.  I changed it earlier this year to When Our Stories Had Happy Endings but I’m afraid that’s too long and sounds too dreary.  Back to the drawing board…

So, how DO you choose a title?

2 Responses to “How do you choose a title?”

  1. Shannon ~ I found this article fascinating. By all accounts if Twilight scored 35%, then at 79% & 70% we should be able to sit back and just watch the money pouring in. Ha ha! I took a look and found that some of my favorites also scored on the low side. I guess that tells us what the book buying public thinks about scientific probability.

    I always struggle with titles because its trying to come up with that unique combination that will grab the attention of the reader and, in part, say what the book is about. That’s an awful lot to put into a few words. For Misfit McCabe, my thought process went along the lines of. . .the main character felt like she didn’t fit into the family, so she was a misfit and then I liked the alliteration of Misfit McCabe (the character’s last name). Fortunately I came up with this early on in the writing process because I think I would have driven myself insane if I didn’t have a title by the time I was done.

    Now, if I could get some assistance on chapter titles. . . .

  2. Interesting to read this, but to be honest I don’t believe it all that much;)

    A nice tool I sometimes use to determine the quality of titles (e.g. chapters, blog posts or short stories) is:

    http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm

    With all the theory behind it, it sounds really trustworthy. Bad thing is, you need at least four words for the thing to give you a score.

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