11+ Ways to Choose the Best Title for your Book

how to choose the best title for your book

How to choose the best title for your book? Well… let me tell you. When I still worked in the bookstore, I came across a new title that I immediately put aside to buy myself.

It was “Smilla’s Sense of snow.” I don’t remember the cover anymore. But that title immediately hooked me and sent little tentacles deep into me.

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Without hesitation, I bought it just for the title.

So how to choose the best title for your book ? Find out the different types of titles below !!

After some brainstorming about different types of titles, I came up with 8 categories:

  • Character Titles: The title consists of the name of a central character. (‘Anna Karenina’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Moby Dick’)
  • Situational title: the title refers to the place or situation in which the main character finds himself. (“Lord of the flies”, “The plague”, “On the road”)
  • Summary titles: the central act is summarized. (“Trainspotting” “The Man Who Found Work”, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”)
  • Closing Titles: The title states the moral of the story. Often there is a well-known proverb or a quote that refers to a different context. This can be literal, ironic, or cynical. (“A whole life ahead of you”, “As long as there is life”, “Live and let die”)
  • Referring titles: the title refers to, and thus makes use of, a text or item outside the story. (‘Go tell it on the mountain’, ‘Ulysses’, ‘Orpheus in the dessa’)
  • Scream titles: the title is a hip slogan. (‘Lipstick jungle’, ‘Megacool pick-me-up book by Britt and Masja’, ‘Sex and the City)
  • Core image titles: the title is formed by an image that has a central symbolic meaning for the story and also conveys something of the atmosphere of the story, often using a thing that appears once or more often in the story. (“Turkish Delight”, “The Tin Drum”, “Cedars in the Snow”)
  • Opposites Title: The title reflects the contradictions around which the story revolves. (‘The Red and the Black’, ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’, ‘War and Peace)

Stand out with a title

A good title is like the blinker with which a fisherman brings in his fish. It must excel, be exciting, and have a nice juicy appearance.

In addition, a title can suggest a deeper layer. Through an incongruous combination of words, it appeals to your subconscious and raises questions.

A title that covers the content

There are many meaningless titles, behind which a beautiful book appears to be hidden. Other titles are full of promise but disappoint in retrospect. Some titles merely represent the content in fact. Something like plum jam in a jar with plum jam. Nothing wrong with it. If the jam is tasty, you will not be disappointed.

It becomes a bit different if we stick a label on the same jar with, for example, ‘Purple delicacy ripened in sunlight’. Or “Sultan’s sin.” With one name you will be happy after tasting.

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Raise questions with a title

‘Smilla’s Sense of snow’ came to me in several layers. And looking at the list above, the title scores in almost every category.

It contains the name of the main character (Smilla), something about her situation (snow), and maybe something about the action (sense of direction? quest?).

It evokes an atmosphere and implies a mysterious underlying theme. It contains a core image and a contrast (feeling and snow).

And in retrospect, it suggests a moral without being overly emphatic, which is that your sense of something can be life-saving.

Moreover, it raises all kinds of questions. Who is Smiley? What does ‘feeling for snow’ mean? And the title also sums it up. Because while reading I got wonderful answers to my questions.

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Think of many titles

Sometimes you already have the title before you start writing. But often you only find your title afterward.

Ask yourself what words you can use to evoke the theme, the situation of your main character, and the atmosphere of your story, without being too emphatic or flat.

Is there an object or fact in your story that can form a kind of common thread, without giving away too much of the action? Does your title sound good? Can you find an unusual mix of words?

Come up with as many titles for your book as possible. Then see in which categories your titles score. Choose the title that scores in at least three categories. That’s one of the ways to choose the best title for your book.

Which title do you like? Or do you already have a catchy title for your book? Nice if you share it. I am curious about your reaction!

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