When asked how one comes up with a book title, I always want to answer with three simple words: ‘with great difficulty.’
You’re not just choosing a title, you have to find the right one. A catchy one. It proves to be a difficult task, but it is as important as designing the cover (tomorrow’s topic).
Every author uses a different process. Some have a title before they begin, which is where they get the inspiration for the story. Others, like myself, can’t come up with one until they’re done writing. If the book is part of a series, authors may choose similar sounding titles. Mine are not series, but the titles have similarities.
Each has two words. The first, being the name of the protagonist. The second starts with the same letter. Stella’s Plea, Emma’s Prayer, Charlie’s Plight.
I didn’t choose all three at once. In fact, I had no idea they’d all be similar until I finished the second novel. How did I come up with them?
Stella’s Plea deals with a deaf child who disappears, so I wanted it to have something to do with her hands, or with sign language. Try as I may, I couldn’t come up with the right one. Then it hit me. Stella, her mom, is frantically searching for her daughter. She sends out a plea for help. That’s how the title became Stella’s Plea.
Emma’s Prayer is about a teen mom who puts her son up for adoption. Soon she misses him so much, she wants him back. Is it too late? (You’ll have to read it to find out, no spoilers here). Emma also has a lot of heavy duty praying to do, hence, Emma’s Prayer.
Recently I attended a book fair where someone asked me if Emma’s story was a religious book. It isn’t, but because of the word prayer, the reader assumed it might be. I explained it is inspirational, and yes there are references to God in the book, but it isn’t the main focus of the story. Again, no spoilers.
When I finished that second novel, I’d already decided the idea for my next one, and that the main protagonist would be Charlie, a woman with a major dilemma. I called it Charlie’s Plight.
While I use the name of my protagonist in all three titles, there’s a variety of ways in choosing who or what appears in yours. You can use
One of your antagonists,
The major event in your story,
Or even an expression used by one of your characters.
While the possibilities are endless, if you’re one of those authors who starts with the title to get your inspiration, a Book Title Generator might be the tool that works best for you.
Whether you start or end with the title, I’d like to suggest you research your title idea. There are many great novels out there with similar or identical titles. Like your characters, be creative. Be unique.