get your novel notice with a power-packed title

Get Your Novel Noticed with a Power-Packed Title

Is a title an important way to get your novel noticed?  With lame-titled bestsellers like Carrie and Beloved, why would it be?

After all, it’s the story that really makes a book go viral, right?

And before the story even gets read, the things that grab attention and hooks a reader are the beautiful cover art and the intriguing pitch, so let’s focus on designing those.

Do you agree?

If your answer was yes, then you sound just like I did a year ago. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the importance of a power-packed title just yet–or you may be in for a big surprise.

A Title Is a Powerful Thing

If you’re already an established author, then chances are your wide following may make your titles unimportant. Fans are already waiting in line to read your next work of art, and they will buy.

But if you’re a new author, then you need to use all the tools at your disposal.

I remember sending out a completed draft of my first novel to another writer who agreed to read it and provide some feedback. After exchanging many emails and comments, she finally asked, “So what’s the title?”

I thought I knew until then. It was obvious that, as a reader, she disagreed.

Your title is as much of a hook as your pitch. It’s a first impression, a promise to the reader to entertain or explain. Readers are drawn in by it. Think about it. When a reader walks into a bookstore (or Amazon), unsure of what to buy, she looks at the title the same instant she looks at the cover art. Depending on the direction the book is facing, the title might be the only thing she ever sees. Why would she choose the book with good cover art and a bad title over the book with good cover art and an awesome title?

Sure, the cover art and pitch are important, and the story is the ultimate prize, but before a reader even opens the book, she is going to see the title. So it has to be interesting. They all come together to create a strong foundation.

The Great Gatsby just has a ring to it that makes you think, This will be an epic story. It makes you wonder who Gatsby is–and to your delight, so does the protagonist.

 Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man catches the eyes. It promises answers to questions that have been haunting women around the world.

A title can sell a book. It’s a powerful thing. Remember, you only get one shot, so make sure you select a good title.

Creating the Perfect Title to Get Your Novel Noticed

So where does a power-packed title come from? And how can it get your novel noticed?

I’m not sure if it’s fair to say the perfect title is possible. Just like your novel, a title might never feel complete.  I have heard authors say they don’t like their book title even after it’s published. Even so, you can still create one that grabs attention.

Try to avoid using the protagonist’s name (unless it’s an awesome name like Jevon Knights).

Instead, search for words that revolve around the story. What’s the main plot? What’s the theme? What’s the most significant scene or sentence? Consider all these things and combine them in interesting ways. Play around with the words and change the order.

Brainstorm with a friend or ask for some feedback. You never know who might throw in some interesting ideas for a great title. Treat the title just like you would treat any other draft. Create it. Revise it. Put it down for a couple days, then go again.

Tell me your opinion: How can the right title get your novel noticed?

get your novel notice with a power-packed title

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About Jevon Knights | @JevonKnights

Jevon Knights is a fantasy writer and blogger who wants to entertain and enlighten with great content. He posts new and original short stories and writing tips on his blog, Knights Writes, and invites you to download his guide Revise Your Manuscript and Get It Ready for Publishing for free.


  1. The title of my current WIP has vexed me almost since the start. I *have* the perfect title. It fits a concept that runs through the story, fits the genre, hints at the greater theme…. I should be set. However, I searched to buy the associated URL and found that it was taken. Surprised, I looked again online only to find that “my” title had been used by everyone and their grandma! Since then, I have been unable to settle on a title….but I have to, and soon.

    So what would you do if the title that really seemed to work best for your book was already used?

    • thomas h cullen says

      It depends exactly on your title. My first instinct is to just say still use it…..just like you, once I finally self-published my text on Lulu I discovered another product there of the same title.

      Worst-case scenario, have a great think of your story, not as a commercial item but as your own individual one……..honestly, what alternative title could come to mind? It doesn’t need to be as representative as the first choice – just a still sincerely representative one.

      Ask yourself…….compared to you, how really much would it matter to other people if you kept your original title?

      To you it’s your baby; to them it’s just another item on sale.

    • Hi Diogeneia,

      I agree with Thomas. I would say this is only a problem if the name is renowned, like Star Wars, Titanic, or Hunger Games. If not, and you really believe the name is right, then you should be fine.

      There are many novels with the same name, and it didn’t matter. Readers know exactly which one they are interested in. You can’t fool them.

      And I notice you already have an author website up and running. So, as for the url, maybe you can just include it as a subpage.

    • Cronin Detzz says

      You might be able to make your title longer. I knew that I wanted to title my 2nd book “Supernatural Poetry.” It is a collection of my nature photos and poems along with famous quotes. I assumed others had used it, so my title is “Supernatural Poetry: A Walk Through God’s Garden.”

  2. thomas h cullen says

    The Representative, my title, is one that hooks because it’s the word of humanity:

    It’s the condition of our existence to need Representation.

    On Lulu, right now, the text browsers see on offer is just a pure black cover…..a choice informed by the story’s sheer peak of weight, and definitive content.

    For the longest time, I knew I’d be publishing TR in this manner.

    • Hi Thomas,

      It definitely got my interest.

      • thomas h cullen says

        It was alerting, seeing your reply to me – thank you.

        All of what I said I sincerely meant: The Representative has to have a simple cover page…’s content is definitive; it’s story is a pinnacle.

        To be just a bit more specific (and to yet give away absolutely nothing!):

        It’s the pinnacle story about the link between status and power.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Jevon!

  4. I recently read a similar-purposed post by The Penslayer. She had a list of titles and described her reaction to them. Her post was not a reflection on the contents of the books but simply intended to demonstrate the effect your title will have on prospective readers.
    Her post can be seen here:

  5. Well, I have two novellas in the works that I hope to sell as a 2-for (as in 2 novellas in one volume). Why? Well, because I love a bargain. And, they have similiar themes and one cross-over character (a POV character but not the MC).

    My problem is the Title, the Sub-Title, and how to do the query.

    Thankfully, I’m not done with the second WIPs first draft and the first WIP is sleeping waiting patiently for the final edits.

    Fair warning: I WILL be reaching out to knowledgeable people to help with this.
    Just sayin’.

    God bless you in your efforts for HIM.

    • Hi Nora,

      I can relate because I actually have similar projects in the future.

      Even though the themes are similar, you should still treat them as two separate books, creating the titles independently and combining them when you’re ready to do the bargain.

      I would also do the queries separately. So when you’re finished editing, you can start pitching the first book.

      And I wouldn’t mind helping you with the title, just sayin’.. 🙂

  6. One of the keys is no doubt specificity. It’s easy to fall in love with one-word titles, but these are rarely as dramatic as we imagine them to be–not that they can’t ever work–and it’s hard for such a title really to convey anything particular about your book. You can’t be too wordy and descriptive, but you want something that applies only to the story you’re telling.

    It’s not an easy formula by any stretch. Some people have a particular knack for titles. Sometimes it’s obvious. And sometimes you don’t get it right until a few days before publication.

    • That’s right.

      And a few days before publication? That sounds rough.

      • It can happen! Though obviously in the traditional publishing world you need a bit more lead time than that. There have definitely been instances, though, where it’s taken a good long while to get it right, ideas bouncing back and forth between author, editor, publisher, intern–really, whoever’s available.

        Of course, the real solution is to precede any and all titles with “Harry Potter and the.” Works every time.

  7. It took me a minute to know where my story was going but 7 months to even come up with a suitable title. Great article. That was my reasoning in taking so long.

  8. I find it interesting that Steinbeck didn’t care much for titles which is a good thing since the Japanese version of Grapes of Wrath was translated into The Angry Raisins. It’s something that should matter though since a good title can tie in the theme of a story. Even if a story still rocks, it’s awkward to praise it while referencing it’s stupid title (such as The Angry Raisins).

    • You’re right. A rocking story does deserve a rocking title.

      Grapes of Wrath sounds a lot cooler than the Angry Raisins, but saying them both out loud makes me laugh.

  9. Thank you Jevon for this. I am starting my 4th historical YA novel and am stuck for a title. I will probably get it half written before I title it .. but this info will stay in my thoughts. Do you think the title should suggest the time line of the story? This is based on WW 2. And Thanks K.M. Weiland for sharing this with us.

    • Glad to share.

      No, a title does not have to suggest the time line of a story, but I do think it has to match the genre and attract the audience of interest.

      For example, as a fantasy fan, I wouldn’t look twice at a book called “The Toaster of Love” even if it was listed as fantasy and had great reviews.

      And if you’re on your 4th novel then it sounds like you may have already mastered the art of the title.

  10. I am almost finished with my first draft, but still no luck with a power-pact title that I feel confident with…
    It is actually harder for me to come up with THE title than choosing the cover art. As long as you have a decent cover art, your title will be the thing that actually gets the attention.

    So, thanks for making me feel the title pressure again, Jevon! Just what I needed 🙂

    • A little pressure is always good, Ella.

      And don’t worry. If you’re still on your first draft then you have plenty of time and lots of opportunities to come up with a title.

  11. Great point!!! Also I was told by an author, writing critic, speaker and salesman that the title on the cover needs to be big enough to read (for your buyers) when your cover’s a tiny thumbnail on amazon. 🙂

    • That’s a great point, Faith. And so does the author’s name.

      In a world full of distractions, we don’t want potential buyers squinting while browsing and looking for their next read. It should be as easy as possible.

  12. Katie–
    Titles and how we react to them are very subjective, don’t you think? I tend to be attracted to titles that don’t sound familiar or derivative. But marketers and branding “experts” emphasize keywords that signal to readers what category a book belongs to. I resist such efforts to herd me toward a book. I look at BookBub’s latest offerings each day. When I see titles using words like blood, bone, bullet, etc., I’m turned off, because they’re just too obvious. Similarly, if the first words of the description talk about a serial killer or, say, a detective whose lost his wife, arm and best friend, that’s also a deal breaker. Oh, and any title that includes the word “ladies”–The Ladies YaYa Home Brewing and Bomb Squad Sisterhood…. Well, no, that one might get my attention.

    • thomas h cullen says

      How about my title – The Representative?

      Would you not agree, any story claiming this ought to have heavier expectations placed on it than the common?

      There’s irony here, isn’t there…..the most familiar of all words commanding arguably the most weightload of expectation.

    • Hi Barry,

      Yes, they are subjective.

      Marketers are looking for what the public prefers as a whole, not what an individual prefers. But sometimes an individual breaks the rules and does something that revolutionizes the industry, changing public preference.

      It sounds like you might be one of them since you’re so against what experts emphasize.

  13. Fantastic article! Yes, a title is just as important as your hook! Writers need to see if they can make it sizzle…not A Boy and His Band, why not A Boy Takes Over the Band? That gives us a question, how did he do it, and who is this boy and why are we reading about him? Make it a question, and make it about your book. Make it about your book and not about someone else’s. A lot of times you find people trying to imitate titles, and that’s never a good way to go.

    • Thomas h cullen says

      Your title being The Representative, and your story being what mine is being however an exception.

      After uploading my text onto Lulu, I discovered another fiction item there by the same name:

      I didn’t fret…..I spent two years making sure the story I finished with was more than deserving of the title.

  14. Would the title ‘Wishes of the Few’ be a good one for a story about how a group of teenaged kids going looking for their parents all over the contry? It’s not set on Earth.

    • thomas h cullen says

      In that so much of fiction, actually is elusiveness and being never too forthright, it is a functional title:

      It really all depends Kelly on what your story is “in fact about” – on what it’s true core theme is.

      • It seemed to work when I tried it in my mind, though I haven’t gotten any feedback yet from my helpers on it yet.

    • Hey Kelly,

      The name sounds cool, but I agree with Thomas. It really does depend on the story.

      It also sounds like your helpers aren’t being very helpful. Try throwing the name out to a forum on Goodreads, or maybe join a writing group on Facebook, and I guarantee you’ll get some feedback.

      • They’re just busy with their own projects and books too. Plus the only way we can really talk to each other during the summer is over e-mail, which isn’t the fastest way to communicate.


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