Please welcome author Starla Kaye back to the Black Velvet Seductions Blog. Starla is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and short stories. Today she’s here to chat with us about what makes a good book title. Please make Starla feel welcome by leaving your questions and comments for her in the comments section following this post.
What makes a good book title?
A lot goes into picking the “perfect” title for a book, a lot that most people don’t think about. Some of this depends on whether the author is publishing with one of the big print houses, an online publisher, or self-publishing (Indie publishing, as it’s known today).
For the main houses, the author really doesn’t have a lot of say in the matter of a book’s title. Yes, they are allowed to suggest a number of possible titles. But it really depends on what the marketing department considers a “good” title at the moment. When I first started reading romances (historical romances), it seemed all I ever saw were titles like Outlaw Love or In the Heat of Passion, etc. Basically they didn’t give the title a great deal of thought, in my opinion. I was never impressed by this cheap marketing effort. Titles have improved somewhat for those houses, but I’m still rarely impressed with their thought process in creating a title.
Most of the online publishers let the author choose a title, or they may offer suggestions. And Indie authors completely choose their own titles. But what, you ask, goes into an author’s decision about a title? (This includes the writers publishing with the big houses, as many of them create titles they like for their WIP, too.)
The cover, including the title, are the reader’s first impression of the book. A catchy or interesting title can entice a reader to pick the book off the shelf or from the online publisher’s list of books. Much more goes into the reader’s decision to take a chance on buying the book, but a good title helps.
A good title has a number of tasks. It should indicate the genre of the work, give a sense of tone and voice of the author, intrigue the reader, and provide continuity if the book is part of a series. I’m not saying that my title Their Lady Gloriana was perfect, but I did give thought to it. By using “their lady,” I was implying that more than one person had an interest in this Lady Gloriana. By using “Lady Gloriana,” I was trying to imply a sense of not royalty but more than the everyday person. I had to rely on the cover picture elements to get across a hint of the time period, which was medieval.
Another example where I gave some thought to a title was Holly’s Big Bad Santa. Taking this apart, “Holly” told the name of the heroine and that someone belonged to her (or at least would eventually). “Big Bad” was to imply a tough kind of hero. He was a partner in a dangerous bodyguard business and had rough edges because of that history. “Santa” hinted that the book had something to do with Christmas.
Have you ever taken the time to analyze titles of some of your favorite books? Okay, titles beyond Breathless Love or whatever. It can be fun, like trying to figure out what some of those specialized license plates mean.
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