Saturday, October 22, 2016

TITLES by Victoria Chatham

Our Round Robin topic for this month is: How important is a title? What attracts you to a certain title, and how do you determine what to title your book?

A title is as important as the first line of your book. It has to hook the reader into picking the book up to find out more about what is between the covers. Picking a title needs as much attention as your characters, plot, and setting.

A good title should be easy to remember and be appropriate to the book. It could also be a play on words or have a hidden meaning as in Luanne Rice’s The Perfect Summer, which was anything but. It can come from your work in progress, or be named for one of your characters. Georgette Heyer had several single name titles as in Frederica, Venetia and Arabella. Jilly Cooper followed in similar vein with Pandora, Octavia and Emily amongst others. There were also her equestrian background titles Riders, Mount, Polo and Jump. James Michener often used a single title and, again, you knew what you were getting with Texas, Alaska and Hawaii. All of these book titles tell their own tale and give the reader a clear clue about the content of the book.

Authors who write a series or linked books will often have ‘follow on’ titles as in Mary Balogh’s First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, At Last Comes Love or Donna Alward’s Larch Valley or Cadence Creek series. The titles of these books set readers up with what to expect. There is no cheating in them and there should be no disappointments. However, no matter how good the title or how attractive the cover, there really is no substitute for a good story. I fully admit to having been drawn in by both title and cover and then sadly disappointed with the content. There are so many good books on the market that if I happen to get one that I’m not into by Page 5, then that book gets set aside.

In my own work I prefer to create my titles from the content. They all start out with a working title but by the end of the book that usually is changed to a 3- or 4 word title. My Berkeley Square Regency series has titles His Dark Enchantress and His Ocean Vixen, a play on the male/female relationship. The next book in the series will be His Unexpected Muse and there will be another after that. So far its working title is simply Hester.

One point to be aware of is that titles are not copyrighted. If you wanted to use the title The Great Gatsby, then there is no reason not to. However, would you achieve the same success as F. Scott Fitzgerald? Hard to tell. Whatever your chosen title, plug it into Google or Amazon and see what comes up. If you have a truly original title, there's nothing quite as satisfying as seeing it at the top of the list. Again, no guarantees that your sales will go through the roof, but being Number One somewhere is always a good feeling.

Check in with these authors for their thoughts and opinions on the subject.