Ask A Wench – Wenches on Writing

The Wenches were asked to answer some questions about writing and the publishing industry, and today we’re replying to the first one – How do you decide on a title? Is it the editor or you or what?

OnceASoldier FinalMary Jo:  Titles wars, all authors know them well! Ideally, authors and editors work together to come up with titles that in just a few words will convey the genre, the essence of the story, and also have a marketing punch. Not surprisingly, this is difficult! 

In my first book, my heroine was a gifted musician so my working title was the rather uninspired THE MUSICAL LADY. Later, my brother-in-law, an amateur musician, suggested LADY OF NOTE, which was better since it conveyed both music and being notable.

The book sold quickly on a partial manuscript, but coming up with a good title was another matter. My first editor always insisted that her writers come up with good titles. We would produce pages of possibilities, which she would dismiss with a few heartless chuckles. When I'd say in exasperation that she should come up with a title, she had a whole prepared speech about HOW MANY BOOKS she'd edited over the years, how could she possible do any more???  Cowed, I'd slink off and produce more lists, which were all shot down posthaste.

In the end, my editor pulled a phrase from the book: THE DIABOLICAL BARON. That seemed a little lurid for my traditional Regency characters, but it did have punch, and so that title remains to this day.

Editors are often right because they're experienced, and they want our books to sell as much as we do. Generally we work until we find titles that we're both okay with. (In fact, I believe my contracts now say that titles must be mutually agreed upon.) But in the earlier days of the romance boom, sometimes publishers could be pretty heavy handed. I heard a story, possibly apocryphal, that one publisher slapped the title ARIZONA AROUSAL on a torrid Western historical romance by a first time author. Can you imagine giving that to you granny?

Series titles can be simplified by picking a phrase that can be varied book to book. My most recent series was like that with a base phrase of ONCE A  That turned into ONCE A SOLDIER, ONCE A REBEL, ONCE A SCOUNDREL, and so forth. 

I was well into the series before I realized in all of them, the heroes were in a state of transition from their past into a new and unknown future. In the first of the series, ONCE A SOLDIER, the army hero is heading home to England to sell his commission and settle down since Napoleon has abdicated his throne. Instead he ends up in a situation that requires every bit of his military skills. (As a footnote, once I saw the cover with the heroine holding out a sword, I had to write that scene into the story!)

Almost all of my titles have stories about how they were chosen, but I won't bore you with them. <G> Suffice it to say that good titles are vital AND difficult!

Confessions of a duchess 1Nicola here, taking a deep breath. Deciding on book titles can be a very contentious topic. A book title is so important in so many ways. Along with the cover, it’s likely to be the first thing that a potential reader sees. Titles need to intrigue someone enough to make them want to pick up the book, virtually or in reality, and to find out more. They also need to reflect the content of the book, because if they don’t, readers may well feel that they picked it up under false pretences.

I usually have a working title for my books when I am writing them. This is the title that for me encapsulates the theme of the story. However, these titles seldom if ever go on to become the final one that makes it onto the book cover. In fact, not a single one of my last half dozen timeslip books have been published with their working titles and before that I can only think of a handful of my Regencies that were published with the titles that I chose for them. One that did survive was my very first book, TRUE COLOURS, and also THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS, which my editor loved. Generally, though, my editors don’t seem to like the titles I choose. We’re looking for different things; they have an eye to marketing and how the title will help to identify the genre and appeal to readers of similar books. I’m just looking at some that describes what I feel I’m writing. I called my most recent book THE FIRE GARDEN because of the connection to the Gunpowder Plot, but HarperCollins called it THE WINTER GARDEN to suit the season. As it turns out, they were spot on in this and it’s sold really well – titles can make a massive difference to sales. The only time I take issue is if a title sounds too generic. My working title for THE FORGOTTEN SISTER was THE WINDING STAIR. I still prefer it! But in the end, it’s usually the editor and the marketing department who will win out!

Rice_TheIndigoSolution_600x900Pat:  Oh my, how do I explain the anguish and utter terror of the dreaded TITLE HUNT? I can’t even decide whether it was worse when I had no choice or when it was all up to me. A title is the hook that can make or break a book. No pressure, right? Back at the beginning, I naively thought I just had to make up something that suited the story. I mean LITTLE WOMEN says it all, right? Even TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD came straight out of the writing and theme. But I started writing in romance and the title had to say sexy romance. So my polite KENTUCKY WOMAN would turn into awful things like LOVE’S FIRST SURRENDER (which I beat down to SURRENDER when it was reissued).

Then I found an editor who wanted me to title my books, as long as I chose words she liked. So I’d make a list of sexy, romantic adjectives and another list of sexy, romantic nouns that might or might not have something to do with the book, and I’d start combining them until I found a formula that worked for her. WAYWARD ANGEL is a good example, and it actually suited the story. No idea if it’s a good title though.

These days, I work for myself. I’ll run suggestions by the cooperative of experienced authors I work with and my best author friends, but the final decision is all mine. So if you don’t like THE INDIGO SOLUTION: A Psychic Solutions Mystery, the fault is mine. Marketing was never my strength!

AnneAnne here, and titles are always difficult. As others have said, titles (and the cover) need to reflect what the story is about, but also to entice and intrigue a reader and hopefully to get them to order or pick up the book. It's often more about marketing than accuracy.

For me, the process of choosing a title has varied with the editor. With my first two books, my suggested titles (GALLANT WAIF and TALLIE'S KNIGHT) went through unaltered, which surprised me, as I'd heard other authors in the same house were often just given a title. But I think that particular editor didn't fuss much about titles for historicals. Then I got a new editor who favoured titles that were of the "Adjectival Noun" type — though I didn't realize that for a while, so there was quite a bit of back and forth discussion before we arrived at AN HONOURABLE THIEF, and later, THE VIRTUOUS WIDOW. 

Then I moved to Berkley and my first title was THE PERFECT RAKE, which was the name I'd submitted it under. My editor loved the title and wanted that book to be the first of a series (which I hadn't expected) and suggested we use "Perfect" in each title. My next editor had quite a different approach. For a start, she didn't want the titles to reflect that they were a series, so no repeated words and the covers were very varied — this was my favorite one. After some discussion, I ended up sending long lists of possibles from which she'd pick, and sometimes tweak. They weren't all accurate reflections of the story, but as I said earlier, titles are mostly about marketing. We had THE STOLEN PRINCESS (she wasn't stolen, she ran away), HIS CAPTIVE LADY (she wasn't a captive), TO CATCH A BRIDE (partly accurate), THE ACCIDENTAL WEDDING (which started with an accident and ended with a wedding), and BRIDE BY MISTAKE, (which did fit the story.)  

Next came the Chance sisters series, also called my Seasonal Bride series (THE AUTUMN BRIDE and so on) and the season and "bride" in the title branded it as a series. With my current editor it's often a three way conversation between her, my agent and me. We toss ideas back and forth, and that's fun. We all like to brand a series, hence the convenient marriage series with "MARRY IN… " in all the titles, and the Brides of Bellaire Gardens, which has DAUGHTER in all the titles.

MURDER ON BLACK SWAN LANE-smallAndrea:  Oh, don’t get us authors started on titles! It’s such a fraught subject. Part of the reason is that a title has to serve so many purposes. Publishers of course want it to be a good marketing tool, which means it has to indicate the genre (Historical, Rom Com, Contemporary, etc.) and perhaps tie into a popular trend in content (WWII has been very hot for several years) or visuals (heroines with no heads were all the rage a while back.)

Authors have more personal concerns – though of course we want to sell books, too! For my very first book, a traditional Regency romance, I was so thrilled to be published that I happily nodded to the first title my editor suggested – THE DEFIANT GOVERNESS. (After all, she was defiant and she was a governess). But I when I moved on to Regency historicals, which are sexier, I was always butting heads with my editors over their insistence on using words like “seduced” and “scandalous ” and “sin.” Sigh.

When I shifted to writing historical mystery, I was sure that I could now use cool and mysterious titles. My first Wrexford & Sloane was about a scientist concocting a dangerous chemical compound. I wanted to call it THE DEVIL'S CAULDRON. (It was from a quote by Byron – History is the Devil’s Cauldron). It was nixed in a flash by my editor. “No, people will think it’s about Satanic cults.” My next few suggestions were also dismissed as too esoteric. (Okay, I admit, not everyone knows what the Philosopher’s Stone is). 

My editor finally suggested that a popular trope for a historical mystery series was MURDER AT (or on) … fill in the blank with something that conjures up the settings of the book. For mine, it was Regency London, so we decided that an atmospheric street name might work. I looked at a Regency-era map of London and started perusing the small lanes around the less salubrious parts of Town, and cobbled together “Black Swan Lane.” That one had wings, and so MURDER ON BLACK SWAN LANE was quickly accepted. I’m now up to Book Seven, which just went up for pre-sale. (Look for MURDER AT THE MERTON LIBRARY!)

Lady Macbeth paperback coverSusan:  Between author, editor, agent, and editorial committee, book titles can be the subject of much discussion and often total makeovers depending on marketing and other factors. Most of my titles are my own – from my first book, THE BLACK THORNE'S ROSE, straight through a list of over two dozen Scottish romances, including LADY MIRACLE, ANGEL KNIGHT, HEATHER MOON, LAIRD OF THE WIND, THE STONE MAIDEN, WAKING THE PRINCESS, KISSING THE COUNTESS, STEALING SOPHIE, KEEPING KATE, and several more, all of my titles were given thumbs up by my first publisher. With the second publisher, some of my suggestions (preferences!) were cast aside in favor of editorial choice for marketing reasons, or because a concurrent title from the same publisher was too similar. THE HIGHTLAND GROOM and TO WED A HIGHLAND BRIDE were not my invention, but suited what the editor and publisher had in mind for the imprint at the time. When I republished those books as backlist titles, I edited and updated the text and changed the titles to LAIRD OF SECRETS and LAIRD OF TWILIGHT respectively, to go with the upcoming sequel, LAIRD OF ROGUES, a new release in my Whisky Lairds series coming later this year. 

One book title went through a great deal of editorial discussion and a few incarnations in the writing and editing process. LADY MACBETH was originally called (by me) LADY MACBETH, then (after a title change request) THE LAST CELTIC QUEEN, then (after editorial suggestion) RUE OF THE SORROWS. The problem was The Scottish Play – at first, the editorial committee at Random House/Crown was leery of the superstition around the name, thinking it could affect book sales. So we went through a round of titles (I still love The Last Celtic Queen) until one day my editor called to say, OK, we've decided superstition be damned, call a spade a spade – let's call it LADY MACBETH: A Novel. 

TSTOS_revise copyChristina:  I have been very lucky in that, for the most part, my editors have liked the titles I’ve come up with and decided to keep them. Sometimes titles come easily, like HIDDEN IN THE MISTS. They will simply appear in your mind as you’re writing, or even when you’re coming up with an outline. Other times, a title can be very elusive. I try to think about a word (or several) that encompasses what the story is about, and if I can’t think of anything to go with it, I’ll check out poetry websites. Lines of poems can make for very evocative titles, like THE SILENT TOUCH OF SHADOWS, which is one of my favourites. I usually have a working title and for some books I much prefer that to the one the book ends up with. One such was TRADE WINDS, which I called THE TIGER GATE – I still feel that would have been a much better title and it fit the story perfectly!

As Anne said, when writing a series, it’s important to have titles that either match or make sense together. For my RUNES series, obviously the word ‘runes’ had to feature, so it was a case of coming up with anything that went with that. I sent my editor a long list of suggestions, and she picked the ones she liked, while letting me keep a few I already thought fit in well. Sometimes an editor will like part of your title, and suggest slight changes – that can work too. Either way, it’s a collaboration. I know there are certain words that are good to have in titles and I trust my editor to lead me in the right direction.

What sort of titles appeal to you? And do you like it when you can tell it’s a series from the titles?

140 thoughts on “Ask A Wench – Wenches on Writing”

  1. Since I mostly read by author, I don’t pay much attention to titles, but if I am simply browsing a catchy title might catch my eye enough to make me examine it more thoroughly. I discover some new to me authors that way. The title needs to have SOME connection to the plot, or I will be disappointed.

    Reply
  2. Since I mostly read by author, I don’t pay much attention to titles, but if I am simply browsing a catchy title might catch my eye enough to make me examine it more thoroughly. I discover some new to me authors that way. The title needs to have SOME connection to the plot, or I will be disappointed.

    Reply
  3. Since I mostly read by author, I don’t pay much attention to titles, but if I am simply browsing a catchy title might catch my eye enough to make me examine it more thoroughly. I discover some new to me authors that way. The title needs to have SOME connection to the plot, or I will be disappointed.

    Reply
  4. Since I mostly read by author, I don’t pay much attention to titles, but if I am simply browsing a catchy title might catch my eye enough to make me examine it more thoroughly. I discover some new to me authors that way. The title needs to have SOME connection to the plot, or I will be disappointed.

    Reply
  5. Since I mostly read by author, I don’t pay much attention to titles, but if I am simply browsing a catchy title might catch my eye enough to make me examine it more thoroughly. I discover some new to me authors that way. The title needs to have SOME connection to the plot, or I will be disappointed.

    Reply
  6. Yes, it’s great when you find one that really gives you an instant feel for what the book is going to be about, isn’t it! I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to them either, unless they stand out in some way. Nicolas ‘The Winter Garden’ for example is very evocative and makes you want to know all about it.

    Reply
  7. Yes, it’s great when you find one that really gives you an instant feel for what the book is going to be about, isn’t it! I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to them either, unless they stand out in some way. Nicolas ‘The Winter Garden’ for example is very evocative and makes you want to know all about it.

    Reply
  8. Yes, it’s great when you find one that really gives you an instant feel for what the book is going to be about, isn’t it! I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to them either, unless they stand out in some way. Nicolas ‘The Winter Garden’ for example is very evocative and makes you want to know all about it.

    Reply
  9. Yes, it’s great when you find one that really gives you an instant feel for what the book is going to be about, isn’t it! I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to them either, unless they stand out in some way. Nicolas ‘The Winter Garden’ for example is very evocative and makes you want to know all about it.

    Reply
  10. Yes, it’s great when you find one that really gives you an instant feel for what the book is going to be about, isn’t it! I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to them either, unless they stand out in some way. Nicolas ‘The Winter Garden’ for example is very evocative and makes you want to know all about it.

    Reply
  11. I don’t notice title too much, except when I’m confused. Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors who has written many books over the years. I have most of them.
    Two of her books have the word “secret” in the title and I often confuse the two. One is THE SECRET AFFAIR from the Huxtable series and the other is THE SECRET MISTRESS from the Mistress series. I have both of these books on my kindle, but when I go to read one, I have 50/50 chance of pulling up the wrong one if I go by title. They are both great books though, so it usually doesn’t matter.
    Hope I got that right – I better go check. (smile)

    Reply
  12. I don’t notice title too much, except when I’m confused. Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors who has written many books over the years. I have most of them.
    Two of her books have the word “secret” in the title and I often confuse the two. One is THE SECRET AFFAIR from the Huxtable series and the other is THE SECRET MISTRESS from the Mistress series. I have both of these books on my kindle, but when I go to read one, I have 50/50 chance of pulling up the wrong one if I go by title. They are both great books though, so it usually doesn’t matter.
    Hope I got that right – I better go check. (smile)

    Reply
  13. I don’t notice title too much, except when I’m confused. Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors who has written many books over the years. I have most of them.
    Two of her books have the word “secret” in the title and I often confuse the two. One is THE SECRET AFFAIR from the Huxtable series and the other is THE SECRET MISTRESS from the Mistress series. I have both of these books on my kindle, but when I go to read one, I have 50/50 chance of pulling up the wrong one if I go by title. They are both great books though, so it usually doesn’t matter.
    Hope I got that right – I better go check. (smile)

    Reply
  14. I don’t notice title too much, except when I’m confused. Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors who has written many books over the years. I have most of them.
    Two of her books have the word “secret” in the title and I often confuse the two. One is THE SECRET AFFAIR from the Huxtable series and the other is THE SECRET MISTRESS from the Mistress series. I have both of these books on my kindle, but when I go to read one, I have 50/50 chance of pulling up the wrong one if I go by title. They are both great books though, so it usually doesn’t matter.
    Hope I got that right – I better go check. (smile)

    Reply
  15. I don’t notice title too much, except when I’m confused. Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors who has written many books over the years. I have most of them.
    Two of her books have the word “secret” in the title and I often confuse the two. One is THE SECRET AFFAIR from the Huxtable series and the other is THE SECRET MISTRESS from the Mistress series. I have both of these books on my kindle, but when I go to read one, I have 50/50 chance of pulling up the wrong one if I go by title. They are both great books though, so it usually doesn’t matter.
    Hope I got that right – I better go check. (smile)

    Reply
  16. You’re right, Mary, it can get confusing at times if the titles are too similar. Hope my Runes ones aren’t confusing my readers! It helps if the covers are different colours I suppose. Good point though!

    Reply
  17. You’re right, Mary, it can get confusing at times if the titles are too similar. Hope my Runes ones aren’t confusing my readers! It helps if the covers are different colours I suppose. Good point though!

    Reply
  18. You’re right, Mary, it can get confusing at times if the titles are too similar. Hope my Runes ones aren’t confusing my readers! It helps if the covers are different colours I suppose. Good point though!

    Reply
  19. You’re right, Mary, it can get confusing at times if the titles are too similar. Hope my Runes ones aren’t confusing my readers! It helps if the covers are different colours I suppose. Good point though!

    Reply
  20. You’re right, Mary, it can get confusing at times if the titles are too similar. Hope my Runes ones aren’t confusing my readers! It helps if the covers are different colours I suppose. Good point though!

    Reply
  21. As a self published fledgling author, I wish I had an editor suggest the titles for me (though I wouldn’t love it if it is something appalling like Arizona Arousal 🤣) that made me laugh way too hard. But having to come up with a title that represents the essence of the book and that is also marketable and catching, let alone having to do it for a whole series is quite hard work. My first book changed title so many times before I settled on the current and had the cover made so I can’t change my mind again. The rest in the series are still a work in progress. I only know I want to have “time” and “love” in all the titles, since it is a time travel romance series, but other than that, nothing is settled beyond the first two books. And don’t even get me started on naming my protagonists. That’s a whole other dilemma. Great article ladies!

    Reply
  22. As a self published fledgling author, I wish I had an editor suggest the titles for me (though I wouldn’t love it if it is something appalling like Arizona Arousal 🤣) that made me laugh way too hard. But having to come up with a title that represents the essence of the book and that is also marketable and catching, let alone having to do it for a whole series is quite hard work. My first book changed title so many times before I settled on the current and had the cover made so I can’t change my mind again. The rest in the series are still a work in progress. I only know I want to have “time” and “love” in all the titles, since it is a time travel romance series, but other than that, nothing is settled beyond the first two books. And don’t even get me started on naming my protagonists. That’s a whole other dilemma. Great article ladies!

    Reply
  23. As a self published fledgling author, I wish I had an editor suggest the titles for me (though I wouldn’t love it if it is something appalling like Arizona Arousal 🤣) that made me laugh way too hard. But having to come up with a title that represents the essence of the book and that is also marketable and catching, let alone having to do it for a whole series is quite hard work. My first book changed title so many times before I settled on the current and had the cover made so I can’t change my mind again. The rest in the series are still a work in progress. I only know I want to have “time” and “love” in all the titles, since it is a time travel romance series, but other than that, nothing is settled beyond the first two books. And don’t even get me started on naming my protagonists. That’s a whole other dilemma. Great article ladies!

    Reply
  24. As a self published fledgling author, I wish I had an editor suggest the titles for me (though I wouldn’t love it if it is something appalling like Arizona Arousal 🤣) that made me laugh way too hard. But having to come up with a title that represents the essence of the book and that is also marketable and catching, let alone having to do it for a whole series is quite hard work. My first book changed title so many times before I settled on the current and had the cover made so I can’t change my mind again. The rest in the series are still a work in progress. I only know I want to have “time” and “love” in all the titles, since it is a time travel romance series, but other than that, nothing is settled beyond the first two books. And don’t even get me started on naming my protagonists. That’s a whole other dilemma. Great article ladies!

    Reply
  25. As a self published fledgling author, I wish I had an editor suggest the titles for me (though I wouldn’t love it if it is something appalling like Arizona Arousal 🤣) that made me laugh way too hard. But having to come up with a title that represents the essence of the book and that is also marketable and catching, let alone having to do it for a whole series is quite hard work. My first book changed title so many times before I settled on the current and had the cover made so I can’t change my mind again. The rest in the series are still a work in progress. I only know I want to have “time” and “love” in all the titles, since it is a time travel romance series, but other than that, nothing is settled beyond the first two books. And don’t even get me started on naming my protagonists. That’s a whole other dilemma. Great article ladies!

    Reply
  26. The title is very important to me. I really expect it to give me a clue to the story within (cover as well). I do like when the titles let you know it’s part of a series but sometimes if they are too similar, it gets confusing. I can see where all this would be a chore for an author. I loved reading all of your takes on this!

    Reply
  27. The title is very important to me. I really expect it to give me a clue to the story within (cover as well). I do like when the titles let you know it’s part of a series but sometimes if they are too similar, it gets confusing. I can see where all this would be a chore for an author. I loved reading all of your takes on this!

    Reply
  28. The title is very important to me. I really expect it to give me a clue to the story within (cover as well). I do like when the titles let you know it’s part of a series but sometimes if they are too similar, it gets confusing. I can see where all this would be a chore for an author. I loved reading all of your takes on this!

    Reply
  29. The title is very important to me. I really expect it to give me a clue to the story within (cover as well). I do like when the titles let you know it’s part of a series but sometimes if they are too similar, it gets confusing. I can see where all this would be a chore for an author. I loved reading all of your takes on this!

    Reply
  30. The title is very important to me. I really expect it to give me a clue to the story within (cover as well). I do like when the titles let you know it’s part of a series but sometimes if they are too similar, it gets confusing. I can see where all this would be a chore for an author. I loved reading all of your takes on this!

    Reply
  31. Many thanks Jeanne, and that’s really useful to know! Sometimes we can influence it and sometimes we can’t but it’s great to hear what readers think.

    Reply
  32. Many thanks Jeanne, and that’s really useful to know! Sometimes we can influence it and sometimes we can’t but it’s great to hear what readers think.

    Reply
  33. Many thanks Jeanne, and that’s really useful to know! Sometimes we can influence it and sometimes we can’t but it’s great to hear what readers think.

    Reply
  34. Many thanks Jeanne, and that’s really useful to know! Sometimes we can influence it and sometimes we can’t but it’s great to hear what readers think.

    Reply
  35. Many thanks Jeanne, and that’s really useful to know! Sometimes we can influence it and sometimes we can’t but it’s great to hear what readers think.

    Reply
  36. What an interesting topic. Thank you all.
    Ultimately I care more about what is between the covers than what is on the cover, but I can certainly appreciate that the cover and title might draw a reader’s attention. I like a number of books with short pithy titles — Linesman (Dunstall), The Martian (Weir), Stray (Höst). But I also like some with longer titles — The Goblin Emperor (Addison); Wriiten in Red (Bishop); The Curse of Chalion (Bujold); Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts (Gala); and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (Olson). The problem with the last two of those longer titles though is that I have to look them up as I can’t quite remember them. I don’t imagine that is a positive feature!

    Reply
  37. What an interesting topic. Thank you all.
    Ultimately I care more about what is between the covers than what is on the cover, but I can certainly appreciate that the cover and title might draw a reader’s attention. I like a number of books with short pithy titles — Linesman (Dunstall), The Martian (Weir), Stray (Höst). But I also like some with longer titles — The Goblin Emperor (Addison); Wriiten in Red (Bishop); The Curse of Chalion (Bujold); Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts (Gala); and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (Olson). The problem with the last two of those longer titles though is that I have to look them up as I can’t quite remember them. I don’t imagine that is a positive feature!

    Reply
  38. What an interesting topic. Thank you all.
    Ultimately I care more about what is between the covers than what is on the cover, but I can certainly appreciate that the cover and title might draw a reader’s attention. I like a number of books with short pithy titles — Linesman (Dunstall), The Martian (Weir), Stray (Höst). But I also like some with longer titles — The Goblin Emperor (Addison); Wriiten in Red (Bishop); The Curse of Chalion (Bujold); Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts (Gala); and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (Olson). The problem with the last two of those longer titles though is that I have to look them up as I can’t quite remember them. I don’t imagine that is a positive feature!

    Reply
  39. What an interesting topic. Thank you all.
    Ultimately I care more about what is between the covers than what is on the cover, but I can certainly appreciate that the cover and title might draw a reader’s attention. I like a number of books with short pithy titles — Linesman (Dunstall), The Martian (Weir), Stray (Höst). But I also like some with longer titles — The Goblin Emperor (Addison); Wriiten in Red (Bishop); The Curse of Chalion (Bujold); Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts (Gala); and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (Olson). The problem with the last two of those longer titles though is that I have to look them up as I can’t quite remember them. I don’t imagine that is a positive feature!

    Reply
  40. What an interesting topic. Thank you all.
    Ultimately I care more about what is between the covers than what is on the cover, but I can certainly appreciate that the cover and title might draw a reader’s attention. I like a number of books with short pithy titles — Linesman (Dunstall), The Martian (Weir), Stray (Höst). But I also like some with longer titles — The Goblin Emperor (Addison); Wriiten in Red (Bishop); The Curse of Chalion (Bujold); Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts (Gala); and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (Olson). The problem with the last two of those longer titles though is that I have to look them up as I can’t quite remember them. I don’t imagine that is a positive feature!

    Reply
  41. I like titles that fit the story & have no objection to titles that show a book is part of a series. I therefore like the titles for Andrea Penrose’s and also Anne Gracie’s series.
    I’m rarely attracted by titles that talk about a ‘sexy’, ‘seduced’ or ‘scandalous’ whatever.

    Reply
  42. I like titles that fit the story & have no objection to titles that show a book is part of a series. I therefore like the titles for Andrea Penrose’s and also Anne Gracie’s series.
    I’m rarely attracted by titles that talk about a ‘sexy’, ‘seduced’ or ‘scandalous’ whatever.

    Reply
  43. I like titles that fit the story & have no objection to titles that show a book is part of a series. I therefore like the titles for Andrea Penrose’s and also Anne Gracie’s series.
    I’m rarely attracted by titles that talk about a ‘sexy’, ‘seduced’ or ‘scandalous’ whatever.

    Reply
  44. I like titles that fit the story & have no objection to titles that show a book is part of a series. I therefore like the titles for Andrea Penrose’s and also Anne Gracie’s series.
    I’m rarely attracted by titles that talk about a ‘sexy’, ‘seduced’ or ‘scandalous’ whatever.

    Reply
  45. I like titles that fit the story & have no objection to titles that show a book is part of a series. I therefore like the titles for Andrea Penrose’s and also Anne Gracie’s series.
    I’m rarely attracted by titles that talk about a ‘sexy’, ‘seduced’ or ‘scandalous’ whatever.

    Reply
  46. Thank you Kareni! That’s a good point – it does help if the title is easy to remember – short and catchy. I hadn’t thought of that!

    Reply
  47. Thank you Kareni! That’s a good point – it does help if the title is easy to remember – short and catchy. I hadn’t thought of that!

    Reply
  48. Thank you Kareni! That’s a good point – it does help if the title is easy to remember – short and catchy. I hadn’t thought of that!

    Reply
  49. Thank you Kareni! That’s a good point – it does help if the title is easy to remember – short and catchy. I hadn’t thought of that!

    Reply
  50. Thank you Kareni! That’s a good point – it does help if the title is easy to remember – short and catchy. I hadn’t thought of that!

    Reply
  51. That’s great to know, Anne – I guess it depends on what type of book we like. I too like series titles like Andrea’s and Anne’s.

    Reply
  52. That’s great to know, Anne – I guess it depends on what type of book we like. I too like series titles like Andrea’s and Anne’s.

    Reply
  53. That’s great to know, Anne – I guess it depends on what type of book we like. I too like series titles like Andrea’s and Anne’s.

    Reply
  54. That’s great to know, Anne – I guess it depends on what type of book we like. I too like series titles like Andrea’s and Anne’s.

    Reply
  55. That’s great to know, Anne – I guess it depends on what type of book we like. I too like series titles like Andrea’s and Anne’s.

    Reply
  56. Thank you all for such an interesting and informative post. I had no idea that titling your books could be such a complicated process. I do like to know if a book is part of a series, so, having recurring words is appealing to me.
    But I also like interesting titles, and those that use some or part of words from another work. For example, Alan Bradley’s series of mysteries solved by 11-year old Flavia de Luce includes intriguing titles that come from poetry or a play on a poem. The first was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which reflects the story without directly addressing it. My favorite from the series is The Red Herring Without Mustard, which seems a perfect murder mystery title to me!

    Reply
  57. Thank you all for such an interesting and informative post. I had no idea that titling your books could be such a complicated process. I do like to know if a book is part of a series, so, having recurring words is appealing to me.
    But I also like interesting titles, and those that use some or part of words from another work. For example, Alan Bradley’s series of mysteries solved by 11-year old Flavia de Luce includes intriguing titles that come from poetry or a play on a poem. The first was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which reflects the story without directly addressing it. My favorite from the series is The Red Herring Without Mustard, which seems a perfect murder mystery title to me!

    Reply
  58. Thank you all for such an interesting and informative post. I had no idea that titling your books could be such a complicated process. I do like to know if a book is part of a series, so, having recurring words is appealing to me.
    But I also like interesting titles, and those that use some or part of words from another work. For example, Alan Bradley’s series of mysteries solved by 11-year old Flavia de Luce includes intriguing titles that come from poetry or a play on a poem. The first was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which reflects the story without directly addressing it. My favorite from the series is The Red Herring Without Mustard, which seems a perfect murder mystery title to me!

    Reply
  59. Thank you all for such an interesting and informative post. I had no idea that titling your books could be such a complicated process. I do like to know if a book is part of a series, so, having recurring words is appealing to me.
    But I also like interesting titles, and those that use some or part of words from another work. For example, Alan Bradley’s series of mysteries solved by 11-year old Flavia de Luce includes intriguing titles that come from poetry or a play on a poem. The first was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which reflects the story without directly addressing it. My favorite from the series is The Red Herring Without Mustard, which seems a perfect murder mystery title to me!

    Reply
  60. Thank you all for such an interesting and informative post. I had no idea that titling your books could be such a complicated process. I do like to know if a book is part of a series, so, having recurring words is appealing to me.
    But I also like interesting titles, and those that use some or part of words from another work. For example, Alan Bradley’s series of mysteries solved by 11-year old Flavia de Luce includes intriguing titles that come from poetry or a play on a poem. The first was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which reflects the story without directly addressing it. My favorite from the series is The Red Herring Without Mustard, which seems a perfect murder mystery title to me!

    Reply
  61. Thank you Constance and I’m glad you like series titles! The others you mentioned are definitely unusual and intriguing – nice to see something different from everyone else’s.

    Reply
  62. Thank you Constance and I’m glad you like series titles! The others you mentioned are definitely unusual and intriguing – nice to see something different from everyone else’s.

    Reply
  63. Thank you Constance and I’m glad you like series titles! The others you mentioned are definitely unusual and intriguing – nice to see something different from everyone else’s.

    Reply
  64. Thank you Constance and I’m glad you like series titles! The others you mentioned are definitely unusual and intriguing – nice to see something different from everyone else’s.

    Reply
  65. Thank you Constance and I’m glad you like series titles! The others you mentioned are definitely unusual and intriguing – nice to see something different from everyone else’s.

    Reply
  66. Thanks for this post. First, I look for authors I like. Second, I look at titles. Third, I look for books which were recommended on book sites I visit.
    For me, titles are interesting, particularly for series where I am looking for the next book. But, I remember stories and characters more than I do titles.
    I had a wonderful list on my “old dead” computer which helped me tremendously. I don’t always remember titles. But, when that computer became old and dead, I had some records, but not all of them.
    So, I try to find out from blurbs and descriptions whether this may be a book I read. Titles are not that big for me normally.
    As I say that, “Murder On The Orient Express” is a heck of a title and that kind of thing will get me every time.

    Reply
  67. Thanks for this post. First, I look for authors I like. Second, I look at titles. Third, I look for books which were recommended on book sites I visit.
    For me, titles are interesting, particularly for series where I am looking for the next book. But, I remember stories and characters more than I do titles.
    I had a wonderful list on my “old dead” computer which helped me tremendously. I don’t always remember titles. But, when that computer became old and dead, I had some records, but not all of them.
    So, I try to find out from blurbs and descriptions whether this may be a book I read. Titles are not that big for me normally.
    As I say that, “Murder On The Orient Express” is a heck of a title and that kind of thing will get me every time.

    Reply
  68. Thanks for this post. First, I look for authors I like. Second, I look at titles. Third, I look for books which were recommended on book sites I visit.
    For me, titles are interesting, particularly for series where I am looking for the next book. But, I remember stories and characters more than I do titles.
    I had a wonderful list on my “old dead” computer which helped me tremendously. I don’t always remember titles. But, when that computer became old and dead, I had some records, but not all of them.
    So, I try to find out from blurbs and descriptions whether this may be a book I read. Titles are not that big for me normally.
    As I say that, “Murder On The Orient Express” is a heck of a title and that kind of thing will get me every time.

    Reply
  69. Thanks for this post. First, I look for authors I like. Second, I look at titles. Third, I look for books which were recommended on book sites I visit.
    For me, titles are interesting, particularly for series where I am looking for the next book. But, I remember stories and characters more than I do titles.
    I had a wonderful list on my “old dead” computer which helped me tremendously. I don’t always remember titles. But, when that computer became old and dead, I had some records, but not all of them.
    So, I try to find out from blurbs and descriptions whether this may be a book I read. Titles are not that big for me normally.
    As I say that, “Murder On The Orient Express” is a heck of a title and that kind of thing will get me every time.

    Reply
  70. Thanks for this post. First, I look for authors I like. Second, I look at titles. Third, I look for books which were recommended on book sites I visit.
    For me, titles are interesting, particularly for series where I am looking for the next book. But, I remember stories and characters more than I do titles.
    I had a wonderful list on my “old dead” computer which helped me tremendously. I don’t always remember titles. But, when that computer became old and dead, I had some records, but not all of them.
    So, I try to find out from blurbs and descriptions whether this may be a book I read. Titles are not that big for me normally.
    As I say that, “Murder On The Orient Express” is a heck of a title and that kind of thing will get me every time.

    Reply
  71. Thank you Annette, so glad you enjoyed it! I totally agree, that’s a great title! And yes, sometimes it’s easier to look at the blurb in order to remember a story.

    Reply
  72. Thank you Annette, so glad you enjoyed it! I totally agree, that’s a great title! And yes, sometimes it’s easier to look at the blurb in order to remember a story.

    Reply
  73. Thank you Annette, so glad you enjoyed it! I totally agree, that’s a great title! And yes, sometimes it’s easier to look at the blurb in order to remember a story.

    Reply
  74. Thank you Annette, so glad you enjoyed it! I totally agree, that’s a great title! And yes, sometimes it’s easier to look at the blurb in order to remember a story.

    Reply
  75. Thank you Annette, so glad you enjoyed it! I totally agree, that’s a great title! And yes, sometimes it’s easier to look at the blurb in order to remember a story.

    Reply
  76. I think catchy titles together with an attractive cover are important for attracting new readers to an author. When something catches my eye I will dig a little deeper to check the genre, reader ratings and reviews, then if still interested I will read or listen to a sample and check the price before buying. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what attracts me about a cover and title but I like romance coupled with adventure, mystery and feisty heroines together with an HEA and superb writing. It just needs a cover and title that give that ‘feeling’!. The examples here are pretty good!
    Once an author is on my favorites list the cover and title become less important. I like series but don’t think it needs to be indicated in the title. That info becomes apparent when checking details.

    Reply
  77. I think catchy titles together with an attractive cover are important for attracting new readers to an author. When something catches my eye I will dig a little deeper to check the genre, reader ratings and reviews, then if still interested I will read or listen to a sample and check the price before buying. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what attracts me about a cover and title but I like romance coupled with adventure, mystery and feisty heroines together with an HEA and superb writing. It just needs a cover and title that give that ‘feeling’!. The examples here are pretty good!
    Once an author is on my favorites list the cover and title become less important. I like series but don’t think it needs to be indicated in the title. That info becomes apparent when checking details.

    Reply
  78. I think catchy titles together with an attractive cover are important for attracting new readers to an author. When something catches my eye I will dig a little deeper to check the genre, reader ratings and reviews, then if still interested I will read or listen to a sample and check the price before buying. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what attracts me about a cover and title but I like romance coupled with adventure, mystery and feisty heroines together with an HEA and superb writing. It just needs a cover and title that give that ‘feeling’!. The examples here are pretty good!
    Once an author is on my favorites list the cover and title become less important. I like series but don’t think it needs to be indicated in the title. That info becomes apparent when checking details.

    Reply
  79. I think catchy titles together with an attractive cover are important for attracting new readers to an author. When something catches my eye I will dig a little deeper to check the genre, reader ratings and reviews, then if still interested I will read or listen to a sample and check the price before buying. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what attracts me about a cover and title but I like romance coupled with adventure, mystery and feisty heroines together with an HEA and superb writing. It just needs a cover and title that give that ‘feeling’!. The examples here are pretty good!
    Once an author is on my favorites list the cover and title become less important. I like series but don’t think it needs to be indicated in the title. That info becomes apparent when checking details.

    Reply
  80. I think catchy titles together with an attractive cover are important for attracting new readers to an author. When something catches my eye I will dig a little deeper to check the genre, reader ratings and reviews, then if still interested I will read or listen to a sample and check the price before buying. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what attracts me about a cover and title but I like romance coupled with adventure, mystery and feisty heroines together with an HEA and superb writing. It just needs a cover and title that give that ‘feeling’!. The examples here are pretty good!
    Once an author is on my favorites list the cover and title become less important. I like series but don’t think it needs to be indicated in the title. That info becomes apparent when checking details.

    Reply
  81. I do like covers and titles. Certain titles like Christina’s Hidden in the Mists, just rolls off the tongue and immediately makes me want to find out what is hidden! I also like series that have similar words as sometimes I find it hard to find books in a series if it’s an older one.
    Steamy or Sexy in a title lets me know it’s a book I won’t read so that’s handy:)
    Great post.

    Reply
  82. I do like covers and titles. Certain titles like Christina’s Hidden in the Mists, just rolls off the tongue and immediately makes me want to find out what is hidden! I also like series that have similar words as sometimes I find it hard to find books in a series if it’s an older one.
    Steamy or Sexy in a title lets me know it’s a book I won’t read so that’s handy:)
    Great post.

    Reply
  83. I do like covers and titles. Certain titles like Christina’s Hidden in the Mists, just rolls off the tongue and immediately makes me want to find out what is hidden! I also like series that have similar words as sometimes I find it hard to find books in a series if it’s an older one.
    Steamy or Sexy in a title lets me know it’s a book I won’t read so that’s handy:)
    Great post.

    Reply
  84. I do like covers and titles. Certain titles like Christina’s Hidden in the Mists, just rolls off the tongue and immediately makes me want to find out what is hidden! I also like series that have similar words as sometimes I find it hard to find books in a series if it’s an older one.
    Steamy or Sexy in a title lets me know it’s a book I won’t read so that’s handy:)
    Great post.

    Reply
  85. I do like covers and titles. Certain titles like Christina’s Hidden in the Mists, just rolls off the tongue and immediately makes me want to find out what is hidden! I also like series that have similar words as sometimes I find it hard to find books in a series if it’s an older one.
    Steamy or Sexy in a title lets me know it’s a book I won’t read so that’s handy:)
    Great post.

    Reply
  86. I am not that fussy about titles, I read according to my favorite authors, tropes, and genres. I like when there is a theme, so I can spot if the book is part of a series, like the “Once a” and “The Perfect” books. But I have to mention one historical romance series I’ve read that has very clever titles that are twists on film noir or spy novels. It’s the Heart of Enquiry series by Grace Callaway, and some of the titles are The Lady Who Came in From the Cold(very fitting, the heroine is an ex-spy), The Duke Who Knew Too Much, M is For Marquess, The Viscount Always Knocks Twice and The Gentleman Who Loved Me. I think we all recognize the references!

    Reply
  87. I am not that fussy about titles, I read according to my favorite authors, tropes, and genres. I like when there is a theme, so I can spot if the book is part of a series, like the “Once a” and “The Perfect” books. But I have to mention one historical romance series I’ve read that has very clever titles that are twists on film noir or spy novels. It’s the Heart of Enquiry series by Grace Callaway, and some of the titles are The Lady Who Came in From the Cold(very fitting, the heroine is an ex-spy), The Duke Who Knew Too Much, M is For Marquess, The Viscount Always Knocks Twice and The Gentleman Who Loved Me. I think we all recognize the references!

    Reply
  88. I am not that fussy about titles, I read according to my favorite authors, tropes, and genres. I like when there is a theme, so I can spot if the book is part of a series, like the “Once a” and “The Perfect” books. But I have to mention one historical romance series I’ve read that has very clever titles that are twists on film noir or spy novels. It’s the Heart of Enquiry series by Grace Callaway, and some of the titles are The Lady Who Came in From the Cold(very fitting, the heroine is an ex-spy), The Duke Who Knew Too Much, M is For Marquess, The Viscount Always Knocks Twice and The Gentleman Who Loved Me. I think we all recognize the references!

    Reply
  89. I am not that fussy about titles, I read according to my favorite authors, tropes, and genres. I like when there is a theme, so I can spot if the book is part of a series, like the “Once a” and “The Perfect” books. But I have to mention one historical romance series I’ve read that has very clever titles that are twists on film noir or spy novels. It’s the Heart of Enquiry series by Grace Callaway, and some of the titles are The Lady Who Came in From the Cold(very fitting, the heroine is an ex-spy), The Duke Who Knew Too Much, M is For Marquess, The Viscount Always Knocks Twice and The Gentleman Who Loved Me. I think we all recognize the references!

    Reply
  90. I am not that fussy about titles, I read according to my favorite authors, tropes, and genres. I like when there is a theme, so I can spot if the book is part of a series, like the “Once a” and “The Perfect” books. But I have to mention one historical romance series I’ve read that has very clever titles that are twists on film noir or spy novels. It’s the Heart of Enquiry series by Grace Callaway, and some of the titles are The Lady Who Came in From the Cold(very fitting, the heroine is an ex-spy), The Duke Who Knew Too Much, M is For Marquess, The Viscount Always Knocks Twice and The Gentleman Who Loved Me. I think we all recognize the references!

    Reply
  91. Recently I’ve been catching up on recent Harlequin regencies (and I’ve found several authors I like a lot), with their funny formulaic titles that sound like they were chosen by a slightly drunken algorithm or a bunch of editors throwing darts at a whiteboard after two glasses of wine on Friday night. The titles are so random sounding that it’s hard for me to remember if I bought that one before. I wonder what they’ll do when they run out of combinations.
    I note that they now usually print a reference to the series the book belongs to on the front somewhere, which is helpful. I like to read all of a series (if it’s good at all) and I like to do that in order, so I appreciate that information being easy to see.

    Reply
  92. Recently I’ve been catching up on recent Harlequin regencies (and I’ve found several authors I like a lot), with their funny formulaic titles that sound like they were chosen by a slightly drunken algorithm or a bunch of editors throwing darts at a whiteboard after two glasses of wine on Friday night. The titles are so random sounding that it’s hard for me to remember if I bought that one before. I wonder what they’ll do when they run out of combinations.
    I note that they now usually print a reference to the series the book belongs to on the front somewhere, which is helpful. I like to read all of a series (if it’s good at all) and I like to do that in order, so I appreciate that information being easy to see.

    Reply
  93. Recently I’ve been catching up on recent Harlequin regencies (and I’ve found several authors I like a lot), with their funny formulaic titles that sound like they were chosen by a slightly drunken algorithm or a bunch of editors throwing darts at a whiteboard after two glasses of wine on Friday night. The titles are so random sounding that it’s hard for me to remember if I bought that one before. I wonder what they’ll do when they run out of combinations.
    I note that they now usually print a reference to the series the book belongs to on the front somewhere, which is helpful. I like to read all of a series (if it’s good at all) and I like to do that in order, so I appreciate that information being easy to see.

    Reply
  94. Recently I’ve been catching up on recent Harlequin regencies (and I’ve found several authors I like a lot), with their funny formulaic titles that sound like they were chosen by a slightly drunken algorithm or a bunch of editors throwing darts at a whiteboard after two glasses of wine on Friday night. The titles are so random sounding that it’s hard for me to remember if I bought that one before. I wonder what they’ll do when they run out of combinations.
    I note that they now usually print a reference to the series the book belongs to on the front somewhere, which is helpful. I like to read all of a series (if it’s good at all) and I like to do that in order, so I appreciate that information being easy to see.

    Reply
  95. Recently I’ve been catching up on recent Harlequin regencies (and I’ve found several authors I like a lot), with their funny formulaic titles that sound like they were chosen by a slightly drunken algorithm or a bunch of editors throwing darts at a whiteboard after two glasses of wine on Friday night. The titles are so random sounding that it’s hard for me to remember if I bought that one before. I wonder what they’ll do when they run out of combinations.
    I note that they now usually print a reference to the series the book belongs to on the front somewhere, which is helpful. I like to read all of a series (if it’s good at all) and I like to do that in order, so I appreciate that information being easy to see.

    Reply
  96. Thank you Quantum, it’s good to know that it works to draw readers in if we get it right! I agree that once you love an author, the rest is more or less irrelevant – I’ll buy their books whatever they are called.

    Reply
  97. Thank you Quantum, it’s good to know that it works to draw readers in if we get it right! I agree that once you love an author, the rest is more or less irrelevant – I’ll buy their books whatever they are called.

    Reply
  98. Thank you Quantum, it’s good to know that it works to draw readers in if we get it right! I agree that once you love an author, the rest is more or less irrelevant – I’ll buy their books whatever they are called.

    Reply
  99. Thank you Quantum, it’s good to know that it works to draw readers in if we get it right! I agree that once you love an author, the rest is more or less irrelevant – I’ll buy their books whatever they are called.

    Reply
  100. Thank you Quantum, it’s good to know that it works to draw readers in if we get it right! I agree that once you love an author, the rest is more or less irrelevant – I’ll buy their books whatever they are called.

    Reply
  101. Thank you so much, Teresa, glad you like it! And yes, it’s great when there are certain words that indicate what the story is about so you can steer clear of the ones you don’t like.

    Reply
  102. Thank you so much, Teresa, glad you like it! And yes, it’s great when there are certain words that indicate what the story is about so you can steer clear of the ones you don’t like.

    Reply
  103. Thank you so much, Teresa, glad you like it! And yes, it’s great when there are certain words that indicate what the story is about so you can steer clear of the ones you don’t like.

    Reply
  104. Thank you so much, Teresa, glad you like it! And yes, it’s great when there are certain words that indicate what the story is about so you can steer clear of the ones you don’t like.

    Reply
  105. Thank you so much, Teresa, glad you like it! And yes, it’s great when there are certain words that indicate what the story is about so you can steer clear of the ones you don’t like.

    Reply
  106. Ah yes, we didn’t mention Harlequin titles – that’s a whole other topic in itself! We should get one of their authors to come on here and discuss it. Thank you for reminding me though – there are definitely some interesting ones!

    Reply
  107. Ah yes, we didn’t mention Harlequin titles – that’s a whole other topic in itself! We should get one of their authors to come on here and discuss it. Thank you for reminding me though – there are definitely some interesting ones!

    Reply
  108. Ah yes, we didn’t mention Harlequin titles – that’s a whole other topic in itself! We should get one of their authors to come on here and discuss it. Thank you for reminding me though – there are definitely some interesting ones!

    Reply
  109. Ah yes, we didn’t mention Harlequin titles – that’s a whole other topic in itself! We should get one of their authors to come on here and discuss it. Thank you for reminding me though – there are definitely some interesting ones!

    Reply
  110. Ah yes, we didn’t mention Harlequin titles – that’s a whole other topic in itself! We should get one of their authors to come on here and discuss it. Thank you for reminding me though – there are definitely some interesting ones!

    Reply

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