Wednesday, 3 September 2014

3 Things to Consider When Picking a Title

There are title generators on the internet - even apps for phones - but how personal is that?

Aside from a great cover, choosing a title is one of the most important tools at your fingertips (for free!) that can entice readers to pick up your story. It prompts them to read the next great thing - the blurb i.e. the "short pitch" located on the back of the printed cover. But what about when readers are looking through a list which doesn't utilize images? How attractive would Twilight have been if it had been named, "The Vampire" or "Cullen: The Recluse"? Exactly!

Image Courtesy of Digitalart,
In my article, "10 Steps to Novel Writing", coming up with a title is listed after writing your first draft because by then, no matter if your plot changes from its original outline, you are familiar with the main theme. In a series, this won't vary too much from the first installment, so it's the perfect time. Use a brainstorming tool, such as word association or snowflake method, and generate multiple ideas. Then, using literal or metaphorical, connect it to the essence of your book and/or series. Be unique, creative, and do your research. Google your book title or series, and make sure you aren't going to be compared to another, perhaps more well-known, author (though that could help people stumble onto your book OR drown it so you don't find it until the 2nd or 3rd page of results). Take it from someone who's learnt (the hard way), this is better to do before announcing or promoting something you wind up having to change at a later date. What's more, this is the time to choose your genre - usually limited to two during publication - and what type of book you are preparing. Know the difference between novelette, novella, and novel, as well as these three very important factors:

1. Types of Novels:
Stand Alone: A novel that is not part of a series i.e. it is "self-contained".

Serial: A series of stories told in chronological order, usually spanning a long period of time.

Series: Stories that are part of a larger picture, but have the ability to stand alone within each installment. (My favorite explanation for the difference between a serial and series is here.)

Saga: A long and complicated series of events, or a long and complicated story with many details.

Chronicle: According to the dictionary, chronicle means to describe events in the order that they happened, so I guess this seems like a serial . . . but without as many installments? (I don't know.)

2. Know your audience and age group:

Children books: All the pretty pictures! And, of course, simple sentences and sight words.

Middle Grade: Generally over 100 pages long, without illustration.

Young Adult: 12-18 (generally), but are often thought of being geared towards 16-25 years of age.

New Adult: 18-25 - generally highlights certain topics, such as leaving home, going to college, starting a job, travelling, etc. It is a new category.

Adult: Everything above the previous selections, and of course, anything Rated-R.

Note: Each age group has its own determiners. Before writing for a selected group, you should research what those are i.e. word count, ratings, topics, etc.

3. Know your rating:

G - General

PG13 - Parental Guidance - not suitable for under 13

PG14 - Parental Guidance - not suitable for under 14

Rated-R - 18+

Note: Include trigger warnings e.g. "Violence", "Explicit Language", "Partial Nudity", "Sexual Maturity", etc. This way, anyone who may be "triggered" can avoid becoming upset. (There are also triggers that are beneficial to an author, but that is for another time.)

While this all may seem like a lot, you won't have to look most of it up - you know what you like to read, right? And your novel is written with an age group in mind. If not, Google it. Usually, I hate using Wikipedia, but every time I start researching something, I end up there. Like a foundation of a house, it's a great place to start and at the very least, it'll give you an idea of what to look for.