How to come up with the best book title ever

Friday, June 15, 2012
Dude, don't look at me to answer this question. I came up with The Stillburrow Crush for the title of my debut novel.  NO ONE who has reviewed this story mentions how much they like that title; they're usually a little too busy talking about how much it sucks eggs.

But fear not. I browsed the web and did a little research for some good book title creating tips!

(coming at you from Suite101 : How to Write a Good Book Title)

Less is best, easy to remember titles rock...or so these people say.

Except, according to the list below that I found, the titles people picked out as eye-catching aren't really that short...or sweet. The shortest title in the list is six syllables long.  Have a look see.

Goodreads List of Best Titles EVER (Top 20)
(Voted the most eye-catching votes by Goodreads members)
1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
3. Something Wicked This Way Comes
4. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
5. Eats, Shoots & Leaves : The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
6. I Was Told There'd Be Cake
7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
8. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
9. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea
10. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
11. Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: A Slightly Tarnished Southern Belle's Words of Wisdom
12. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things
13. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
14. To Kill a Mockingbird
15. If you Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet?!
16. Me Talk Pretty One Day
17. An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England : A Novel
18. The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul
19. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
20. The Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

(coming at you from Ezine Articles: How to Create a Winning Title for your Book)

Jay Abraham points out, "A headline is an ad for a job. Its purpose should be to reach only those who are most qualified to be a prospect for your proposition."
So, if you the author are the employer, looking for some employees (aka: readers) to fill the position of book groupie for your book, the title is just a headline for the ad you're putting out for them.

If a reader can tell this is "her" kind of  story just by reading, the title, then Enzine says that's a good thing.

Can you tell what kind of book the below titles are just by reading their headlines?
1. Big Sky Country (Western Romance)
2. Along Came a Duke (Regency Historical Romance)
3. Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind (Math/Science biography about magic)
4. Got Your Number (a humorous romantic mystery) 
5. Just The Way You Are (emotional contemporary romance) 
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (middle grade fiction) 
7. Kiss the Dead (Contemporary Vampire fiction) 
8. What to Expect when You're Expecting (self-help non fiction) 

TIP #3 - DON'T FALL IN LOVE with your title
(coming at you from The Abbeville Manual of Style : All-Time Best Titles)

As the author, you'll create a tentative title, but  low and behold, it may not stick. The publishing house has its own opinion and will name your book whatever they like. My title for A Man for Mia was originally titled Disaster at 421 South Elm, but the publisher thought that sounded too much like a mystery, was changed.

Here's what Abberville says are some all-time best titles out there:

-Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
-Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, and the other “name titles”
-Wallace Stevens, “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour
-Dr. Seuss, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
-Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terebithia
-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
-Eugene O’Neill, A Moon for the Misbegotten
-Philip K. Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said
-Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
-Edward Lear, Complete Nonsense (title of collected poems)

-George Orwell, “Such, Such Were the Joys
-Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That
-Hunter S. Thompson, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved
-Peter Bowler, The Superior Person’s Book of Words
-Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

(coming at you from eHow : How to Create a Memorable Book Title)

 eHow says to make it simple and easy to remember. "If people can remember your title and how it struck them, you have an instant word-of-mouth marketer that will promote your book title." So, I guess it should strike them in a good, positive light when they read this title. Ergo, your tip number four: marketable, memorable and positive!


If you can't tell, I'm trying to come up with the perfect title for one of the WIPS (okay, for a couple of the WIPS) I'm working in. The one I'm stressing over today is a contemporary young adult story. I'm a romance junkie, so it's a romance story, of course.  My YA books tend to have a chick-lit quality to them since they're usually written in first person POV, and this one in particular has an other-worldly mystery to solve.

While cleaning out her grandparents' house after her grandpa died, sixteen-year-old Jennifer Bishop (yeah, I'm waffling over her name too but that's a new debate for another day, sigh!) finds a fifty-year-old diary written by her deceased grandmother, started when her grandmother was sixteen. Inside the journal, Jenn discovers how her grandma ended up cursed, a curse that travels through the generations and will keep all the members of their family unlucky in love until the curse is broken.

My initial title was Grandma's Secrets.  But I've never been very satisfied with that. So, I've come up with.....drum roll:

Thanks for the Curse, Grandma

What do you think? After reading all the tips and advice above, does it sound doable? I think I'm beginning to love it, which is a big no-no, I know! But, oh well.

Have you ever had a title of your book changed by the publisher?  How many are the most times you've changed a title before?


  1. I've had to change two titles so far. It was difficult at first. Now I realize it made sense.

  2. I love, love, love your new title! Perfect for YA :)

    I have had a title changed. My title was The Gideon File, and it was changed to Ordained Sin. It's a story in the anthology Fedora III published several years ago.

  3. Hello, hello! Really like your title idea and I ran it by hubby just now and he likes it too! "I'd read that book!" he said. Also, I'm not going insane right? You'd changed up the look of your blog? Very nice!

  4. Very cute!! It totally works!

    I can't believe a Man for Mia was Disaster at 421 South Elm. That sounds like a suspense to me. LOL

    I've never had a title changed on me by my publisher. I could only wish! I stink at them. :)

  5. Love your title. I think your first book title was ok. YOu're only getting better and better. :O)