Thursday, June 18, 2015

Making Your Title Sexy

The title got your attention, didn't it?

I have included for illustration's sake a photo of Justin Timberlake only because he did, of course, bring sexy back. 

Photo from

Today is all about--you guessed it! Creating titles that catch your readers' attention. Titling your manuscript can be so difficult, because you have to sum up the sentiment and all the layers of your book into a short little phrase. Some people will tell you not to spend too much time on your title because a publishing house will change it anyway, but I would disagree with that, because you need a good title to catch the attention of a publishing house or agent in the first place. Not to mention, wouldn't you rather have the chance to title it yourself, picking something that's consistent with your book's overall vibe? So here are some things to keep in mind when working on your titles that should increase your chances of getting to keep the original title when the book does sell.

  • Your title is your first opportunity for marketing. So make it good.
  • Use a consistent tone as what you use in the book. Have you read My Life As A Doormat by Rene Gutteridge? It's pretty much one of the best books of all time, and the tone throughout is as funny as the title sounds. What about A Grownup Kind of Pretty by Jocelyn Jackson? I rented this one from the library but couldn't get into it enough to finish. That said, I love the title and think it showcases Jocelyn's lyrical writing style so well.
  • Create a hook that catches attention and makes us what to find out what this story's all about.
  • Add layers of depth to the title's implications. Another one of my favorite books of all time is Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker. At the beginning of the story, two main things drive the character: she is indeed a "miss" and it not exactly thrilled about that fact, and she prefers, at all costs, to remain invisible.
  • Keep it relatively short.
  • Create a title that will only become more interesting after someone has read the story. Examples of this are Pride and Prejudice, To Kill A Mockingbird, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Eats, Shoots, & Leaves, andWhere the Wild Things Are.
  • Keep the target audience in mind. 

A good title, like a good cover, can set you apart from other books as readers who may be unfamiliar with your writing browse through the bookshelves. In my opinion, it's one of the most important ways to catch the attention of readers. I know I've picked up many books based off their titles alone. Haven't you?

What are some of your favorite titles and why?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Neelima said...

My favorite title would have to be The Sound and the's poetic and philosophical, hard to forget.

Unknown said...

I struggle with titles. What I think is fabulous doesn't sell erotica.

Ashley Clark said...

Neelima, that's a great one!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Great stuff, Ash! Btw... You just said sexy!!! Get on with your bad self ;)

Pepper Basham said...

Oh how I love Laure Jensen Walker's books!! Read all of of her fiction! Miss Invisible CRACKED ME UP!!
Ashley, I can't believe you didn't list "Mr. Darcy Ruined My Life"
What a great title!!!
What about Mary Connealy's book title The Husband Tree! Ha!

Great post today.

Ashley Clark said...

Ha! Ames, I hesitated but then thought you'd be proud. ;)

Ashley Clark said...

Pep, those are great ones!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

So proud!

Unknown said...

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is definitely one of my favorite titles.