How to Choose a Book Title That's Perfect for Your Story AND Good Marketing!

How to Choose a Book Title That’s Perfect for Your Story AND Good Marketing!

Like every author on the planet, I’ve spent endless hours mulling over creating the perfect book title for my work. One strives, of course, to be both memorable and honestly descriptive of the content.

There are also marketing aspects to be considered. The marquee value cannot be neglected since the book, especially fiction, must compete in the market place and be “discoverable” to the searching eye of the browser and the impulsive book buyer who scans bookshelves of those bookstores still remaining and interminable book cover images that clutter the e-reader “shelves.”

Another wild aspiration that motivates the author is the possibility of a movie production of their novel and the limitations of the actual movie marquee. Anything more than a four-word title could be a dream killer. Imagine any great movie or TV adaptation based on a novel where the title of the novel is changed. I have been lucky in that regard with three of my works The War of the Roses, Random Hearts, and The Sunset Gang.

How Your Book Title Affects Your Cover

The book  title’s suggestion to a cover artist was, and perhaps still is, an aspect that had to be taken into account. The book cover design and illustration has always been an integral part of the marketing process and many fine prize-winning designs have been an essential marketing tool for books in both fiction and non-fiction categories.

For books in categories such as romance, science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, zombie and vampire stories, young adult, and children’s books and all their sub-categories, the titles and covers must reflect the specific genre to clearly designate content.

3 Ways to Find the Right Book Title

For the author of mainstream fiction whose storyline is not in any genre category, he or she must face the agony of choosing the perfect book title.

1. Base Your Book Title on Your Main Character

Many famous authors chose to name their books after a main character, and one can point to many successes such as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Daniel Deronda, Nana, Mrs. Dalloway, Lolita, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Rebecca, Tom Jones, Clarissa, Robinson Crusoe, and the most enduring of all Don Quixote.

Jane Eyre: Writer's Digest Annotated ClassicsDon Quixote by Miguel CervantesOliver Twist by Charles Dickens

2. Base Your Book Title on Your Setting

Some authors have chosen place names, countries, houses, streets, neighborhoods, destinations, bars, modes of transportation, and myriad other categories as titles, too numerous to mention; Wuthering Heights and Tales of the South Pacific are typical. Many of these, obviously, are classic novels that have stood the test of time but there are many character named titles that have passed on to obscurity.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

3. Base Your Book Title on Poetry

Then there are the titles that are lifted from lines of poetry that the author believes are an apt choice to illustrate a theme of the novel, some of recent vintage like The Lovely Bones. Among the better known are A Handful of Dust, Of Mice and Men, Far From the Madding Crowd, Remembrance of Things Past, Endless Night, and many others.

Lovely Bones by Alice SeboldOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

One book title that always intrigued me was Catcher in the Rye, which takes its inspiration from Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet whose “Comin’ Thro’ The Rye” was a poem with obvious sexual overtones, a subject much on the mind of the main character in the book. Another is To Kill A Mockingbird, which takes its title from a snippet of dialogue from its main character declaring that to kill a mockingbird is a sin. That title truly encapsulates the theme of that novel.

What’s the Most Important Consideration for a Book Title?

Believe me, I have had many sleepless nights trying to come up with titles that accurately nailed the content of my work. I’ve taken them from snippets of poetry and quotations from Shakespeare whose work is a gold mine of fantastic possibilities. Indeed, I found the title of my latest work The Serpent’s Bite, in that famous quote by Lear:

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!

It hits the mark about the content of this novel with deadly accuracy.

I’ve always admired the titles of Hemingway, masterpieces of accuracy, nuance and subtlety. Few are better than A Farewell to Arms and For Whom The Bells Toll, and an all-time favorite of mine is Gone With the Wind, which is beautifully said and chillingly accurate. Another all-time favorite of mine is The Red and the Black by Stendahl, subtly delineating the central focus of the main character’s ambitions, the red of the Army and the black of the clergy.

Thomas Hardy was a master of titles: Jude the Obscure and The Return of the Native to mention just two of many. Some wonderful titles stick in my craw, not because they are not brilliant but, for some reason, I could never fully master their content. They are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Under the Volcano.

But then, by and large, a great title is an art form unto itself. Indeed, a great book title does not necessarily signify a great book and vice versa.

Giveaway:  JOIN. PICK. REVIEW. Warren is giving away an unlimited number of his bestselling ebook titles that are slated to be made into movies in 2015 and 2016. To receive your copy, simply comment below with the title(s) you’d like to receive. Available titles are listed in the poster.



*Provide an accurate e-mail address for contact purposes and to receive ebooks.

*You may choose more than one title may be chosen.

*All Reviews may be sent to [email protected],m and we also encourage you to place reviews on Amazon.

Tell me your opinion: Does a book title help you decide what book to read?

How to Choose a Book Title That's Perfect for Your Story   AND Good Marketing

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About Warren Adler| @WarrenAdler

Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In recent development are the Broadway Production of The War of the Roses, The War of the Roses – The Children (a feature film adaptation of the sequel), and Capitol Crimes (a television series based on his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series). Adler's forthcoming thriller Treadmill is slated to be released in September. Learn more about Warren Adler.

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