by Tamela Hancock Murray
When an agent or her assistant tackles the email slush pile, she sees one subject line after another written by authors vying for attention. Some lines describe the book category, while others make a claim about the author himself. But most include the book’s title. I tell authors not to get attached to titles because all too often, they are changed somewhere between the time the editor takes the proposal to Committee and when the book goes to press. However, putting thought into the title at the proposal stage will help orient us to the book and a really catchy title might excite us enough to open your email proposal right away. Who wants to read a boring book?
Consider these fiction titles:
Rodeo Sweetheart by Besty St. Amant
The Guy I’m Not Dating by Trish Perry
Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum
These titles made me smile and want to learn more.
Non-fiction books work a little differently. Often title is simply descriptive and helps the reader learn right away the benefit the book offers. Some start with a catchy phrase, then use a subtitle to explain the book:
Real: Owning Your Christian Faith by Daniel Darling.
Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World by Kathi Macias.
Attitude-inize: 10 Secrets to a Positive You by Jan Coates
Notice that the first phrase is a quick reference point for the book’s title, but on its own, doesn’t tell us much about the book. However, the subtitle elaborates on the felt need the book serves.
Another word of advice I give my authors: To avoid confusion, do a search to see if your title has been used recently. Use the Amazon.com database for a comprehensive history. Then use ChristianBook.com to see what is currently available in the Christian market. In the past, a title used over five years ago was fine to revisit using the same the title (Within reason, of course. Please don’t use something like Harry Potter Got Left Behind). However, with ebooks never going “out of print,” I have changed my advice. For example, Amazon Publishing recently purchased Avalon Books’s 3000-strong backlist, meaning many titles will be re-released in ebook form. I’d encourage every author to be as creative and original as possible. Using the heroine’s name in the title often helps for romance, and the hero’s name might save the day for adventure novels.
Having trouble? Ask your critique partners. Poke around the Internet for ideas. Most of all, have fun!
What is your favorite book title? This may or may not be the title of your favorite book.
I can never remember the title, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, by Paul Zindel although I must be alone since this is a famous book and movie. What titles do you have trouble remembering? (Search key words on Amazon to remember!)
Here is a fun list: 276 Best Book Titles. Which titles grab your attention?