Title Trials and Tribulations

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that naming a book is almost as difficult as naming a baby! I’m working on my second draft of my latest work in progress. I’ve had a working title in mind (Meeting Mr. Wrong), but I’m growing rapidly disenchanted with it. I chose it because the H/H are at first blush an odd couple. But one strike against it is that a couple of other books, some old out and of print, have the same or similar title. But more importantly, I don’t really think the title reflects what the book is about. My book is kind of a sexy romantic suspense with a wacky sensibility thrown in. It features a lot of colorful elements like Vegas, the mob, medieval manuscripts, ultimate fighting, and snowstorms. (Well, of course. Doesn’t every book?)
As I’ve contemplated this problem, I’ve weighed several different types of titles. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are the main types I seem to see a lot. I’m referring mostly to contemporary or historical romance or romantic suspense, not erotica, inspirational, or paranormal as I don’t read widely in those subgenres:

  • Meaningless but romantic: “Love’s Sweet Passionate Savage Treason” or whatever. This type seems to be losing popularity.
  • Sexy puns: Puns involving mouths, lips, bodies, binding, etc. Seemingly never goes out of style.
  • Flower titles: “Wild Red Rose” or similar. 
  • Practically anything that works in kisses, love, brides, bachelors, marriage, engagement. For romantic suspense, these key phrases are often combined with some word that signals danger, such as Deadly Kisses, Fatal Passion, etc.
  • Plays on songs or movie titles or song lyrics.
  • To signal a Regency, a title often contains scandal or some mention of dukes, earls, princes, etc.
  • Then there are more vague titles that play on some element of the story to hint what it’s about. My story “Montana Belle” works in Montana to let readers know that it’s a western. My forthcoming story “Forget-Me-Not” is an example of a flower title, but also hints at the story’s amnesia plot.

So those are the types of titles I see most often. Which have I forgotten? For you authors out there, what is your strategy when naming your novel? For readers, what kind of title makes you want to pick up a book and learn more?
Note: I’m giving away an ebook copy of Montana Belle to one lucky commenter. Leave a comment by the end of day Wednesday the 26th of January to get your name in the hat!

About Linda Morris

Linda Morris is a multipublished writer of contemporary and historical romance. She writes stories with heart and heat, and a joke or two thrown in. When she's not writing, working, or mommying, she's doing yoga, reading, working in her flower garden, or baking delicious things she probably shouldn't eat. A beat-up old copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss's "Ashes in the Wind" that her mom bought for her at a garage sale years ago was her "gateway drug" into the world of romance novels. Her all-time favorite romance writers include Laura Kinsale, Patricia Gaffney, Elizabeth Delancey, and Marjorie Ferrell. Current favorites include Julie Anne Long, Erin McCarthy, and Shannon McKenna.
This entry was posted in Forget-Me-Not, Give-away, Montana Belle, Titles. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Title Trials and Tribulations

  1. lastnerve says:

    I love titles that have something like "bachelor" or a title that assures me that it's a cowboy book. And if the word Nascar is in it, I will buy it even if it's a book about aliens racing Nascar in space haha. I love place titles in a book, like Montana Belle. (Not saying that to suck up either) 🙂 When I see that it makes me think of a cowboy guy and a sweet girl.Vallastnerve2000@gmail.com


  2. Definitely nothing too mysterious. If I can't figure out what the book's about between the title and the cover picture, I tend to move on. When I'm writing, I like to look up quotations about the subject and see what I can find that's relevant.


  3. Lainey says:

    LOL @lastnerve! Now I want to write a Nascar racing alien bachelor.And I hear ya on the search for originality and meaning, Linda. A couple of my books 'titled' themselves after they were written. But my last full length contemporary was a toughie. I finally settled on 'The Trouble With Tessa', which really suits the book. Trouble is…there's a childrens' book out there with the same title. *Sigh* The original elements of your book sound awesome! Can't wait to hear the chosen title!


  4. I'm a reader that don't buy a bok because of a title.A title is the last thing that I look at.lorettalbcanton@verizon.net


  5. Emma Lai says:

    Linda, what a great topic. I liked your summary of title trends. As a reader, I do look at titles if I'm standing in a bookstore. After all, the only thing you see is the binding unless you're perusing new releases. I'm a lover of Regency, so yes, anything with scandal, duke or earl grabs my attention. For suspense, I like a little paranormal mixed in (think Kay Hooper) so I look for titles that indicate the elements I enjoy…such as Whisper of Evil.As an author, if I'm lucky a book will name itself…such as my latest story Twice is Not Enough. In other instances, I find myself struggling. Then I break out the thesaurus and start finding words related to the theme of the book.


  6. Jennifer Ann says:

    This is such a timely topic for me! I spent last week wracking my brain for a new title. Set in the regency era, I wanted something that hinted at the setting while still sounding fun and playful. After long hours with the thesaurus ( I'm with you Emma) I finally came up with "Lover's Gamble".


  7. I write non-fiction and fiction and I have an "Ideas" bulletin board above my work table. It's a piece of decorated foam board. When I see things in magazines, junk mail, on tv, or wherever, I clip or write it down and stick it up on the "Ideas" board. One of the things on the board right now is a magazine article I tore out with the title "We Are Connected Forever" about the lives of organ donors and their receipients. Great story idea and great title. Joy HeldWriter Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and CreativityWho Dares Wins Publishing


  8. These are great comments all. Apparently I need to break out that thesaurus in my quest for a new title . . .


  9. Hi Linda. My editor suggested the title for my upcoming Regency novella, "The Duke's Blackmailed Bride". She had Googled my original title "Northbridge Bride" and found other similar titles. So that's another aspect to selecting titles and I'll now Google titles myself to make sure mine can be distinguished from other authors. I understand that nowadays, especially for category romances, readers like to have a clear idea of what the story is about. Titles seem to have become more wordy as a result.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s