Thursday, August 16, 2012

Title? Title? I don't need no stinking title!

How do you choose what title to use on your finished manuscript?  Does it suggest itself to you during the course of your writing/rewriting/editing?  Or do you sit and look at it, trying to think of a pithy selection of just a few words that will encapsulate your book neatly and entice readers to try it?

For most of my published books, the 6 Reyes Romances, and my 2 stand-alone contemporary romances, I chose the titles myself.  But for my 2 romantic suspense novels, I had to turn to my family.  Keep in mind that none of my in-their-early-twenties kids read romance novels except for occasionally checking out one of mine.  So they don't have any idea what the popular titles are any more than my husband, who also reads lots of other books, but only romances written by me.  So when I ask them, they listen to my short explanation of who the main characters are and the story arc, then they fire suggestions at me. 

Since they refer to what I write as "Mom's porn", though I prefer "smut", they often suggest titles that sound much more erotic than what I write!  I write romance novels with a bit of naughtiness.  I've read enough erotic romance and erotica to know that's not what I write! So I reject the titles that sound like a porn movie, lest I disappoint a randy reader.  Then I consider their other choices. 

This worked wonderfully, I thought, when I wrote Secret Love, about a female spy who breaks the rules by falling in love while on active duty.  Then I went onto Amazon, excited to see my new book there, and when I typed in the title in the search line, I found 4 other books by different authors, with the same title!  Surely this was an anomaly, I thought. 

Then I needed a title for my second spy novel, about a retired female spy who is drawn back into the world she thought she had left for good.   2 male spies are assigned to guard her 24/7 from the psycho-killer she thought she had put away forever when her testimony put him in jail. She falls in love with one of them, but they both pursue her.  I kept thinking of titles with the word "spy" in them, but my oldest son suggested Undercover Lovers.   I thought it was an excellent title!  But apparently so did 9 other authors, 8 of whom used the singular lover...but all of their titles pop up when you search Amazon for Undercover Lovers.  Heavy sigh.

That same oldest son just tried to explain to me about how savvy techies are able to game the search engines, and tag their items with zillions of words to ensure that no matter what you are looking for, their products will appear.  I just got off of work and that sounded too complicated for me to grasp!  Oh well...

My next book will be published November 1, and it's about the Mayan prophesy involving the end of the calendar in 2012.  It also has vampires and a 5,000 year old Mayan vampire mummy.  And a conspiracy to dull the intelligence of the human population for nefarious purposes.  I agonized over this title also, and even called it unnamed Mayan romance in my files.  But when I was offered a contract, they needed to have a title to put on it.  My quandary had to end quickly!  I chose  Prophesy of the Undead.  Ah, great!  Nothing pops up with that title on Amazon!  I guess I'm going to have to check there from now on before I choose my titles for my next books. 

How much do you feel a title grabs your attention or causes you to want to read a book?  Or are you more interested in the cover?  I think I've been extremely lucky with the cover artists I've been assigned.  I just wish there was such a thing as a title artist!  Don't you? 

Please visit www.fionamcgier.com and feel free to comment on the creativity (or lack thereof) involving my titles.  Hey, I truly enjoy writing the best books I can...everything else is much harder!


Tina Donahue said...

For me, titles just come out of the blue and fit the story perfectly or they're torture to find. Many times, I have what I believe is the perfect title only to learn from my editor(s) that the titles have already been taken by other writers or management doesn't like them. Then I'm on the search again. For me, my favs are "Sensual Stranger", "Lush Velvet Nights", "The Yearning" and "Claiming Magique" (out August 31).

I really like your title "Prophecy of the Undead" - sounds very intriguing. :)

And yes, I check Amazon to see if titles have been taken. I also google titles just to be sure no one has used them before I have.

Fiona McGier said...

Phew! I'm so glad to find out it's not just me, Tina! Some writers hate writing blurbs...that's not that hard to me. But titles? Eek!

jean hart stewart said...

I seem to vary on my titles. Sometimes I know if before I put dowm a word, sometimes I call in friends to help. My next book in the Fiery Pursuit series gave me fits. My editors wouldn't all Dark Pursuit. We went back and forth on this one. It's now settled, thanks be, as Forbidden Pursuit.

Karenna Colcroft said...

I am usually HORRIBLE at titles. I've resorted to asking help from family, online friends, and even online total strangers!

But sometimes the perfect title just pops into my head... For example, my first M/M novel Salad on the Side titled itself. I mean, what else could I call a book about a gay vegan werewolf? And because of the vegan theme, I've had no problem titling the other books in that series, or with coming up with the series title (Real Werewolves Don't Eat Meat.)

I never know when it's going to happen that a title just gives itself to me, but it's wonderful when it does!

Tim Smith said...

I've been on both sides of this argument. Sometimes a really great title comes into play before the story or part way through, other times I'm scrambling.

I hate it when I come up wtih something that really fits my story and find that someone beat me to it! Had that happen twice. I now do an Amazon search before I get too far into it.

Someday I'll write one with a title that has nothing to do with the plot and see what happens.

Fiona McGier said...

Jean, glad that you finally picked something your editors could live with, and not all that far off from your original.

Karenna, a vegan werewolf? Sounds intriguing! And yes, I live for those books that tell you the title before you even submit it!

Tim, up to now I haven't been doing a search before I pick a title. I think now I'd better start! 10 other books with the same exact title makes my would-be-readers have to look too hard for my books!