How many times have you picked up a book, looked at the title and thought ‘hmm, no, maybe not’? I bet it’s something that we’ve all done at least a few times – we know that we shouldn’t judge a book entirely on its title, just as we shouldn’t judge it entirely on its cover, yet we have a tendency to do so anyway.
It’s almost an understatement to say that the title of a book is important. It’s not just important for encouraging readers to pick up your novel and find out more, but it’s also vital for writers too. A good title can help you to start visualising your writing project as an actual Thing as opposed to just a collection of words on the page. It can help to shape your purpose; giving a name to something might seem like a relatively small thing, but names have a lot of power. Your title matters.
Some titles are easy to think up. Sometimes, the title might be the first thing you think of when starting your book. Other titles are something of a pain and it can take a long time to get it just right. Either way, I think it can be useful to at least have a working title for your book from early on in the process, if only because it can help to make it seem more solid – and give you something to call it other than ‘the beast’ (although on tough days, that works perfectly well too).
Maybe you won’t stick with the first title you come up with. Maybe the title that you choose at the start of the process doesn’t seem as zippy or relevant once you get to the end of your draft. That’s okay. You can change it to something more appropriate. Books evolve during the writing process, no matter how much detail we put into our original plan.
But titles are, in a way, the label on the tin. They give you a clue as to what’s inside. Making sure your work has a title that fits, that suits it and that makes it sound enticing, really does matter. Don’t leave it until the last minute to choose – start thinking about it early.
How do you choose your titles? Do you like to have them in place early in the process or do you prefer to wait before choosing?