How to choose the title of a book?
The cover and the title of a book are the first attraction of any work. Think of the reader walking down the aisle of a bookstore, looking for a new book to read, and suddenly stops in front of a bookshelf. Undoubtedly, the visual impact caused by the front will make them open the pages, take a look inside and decide whether to take what they have in their hands for their personal library.
But that’s not all, choosing a good title can help, even when a review of your book appears on social networks, potential readers remember what the book was called and thus become interested in it. Decided to name the creature? Well, let’s start with the keys you will need.
The importance of creating a good title
Just as every person needs a name, every book needs a good title. While in the case of humans, this is not a matter of great importance, in the literary world it is essential to work in this direction. Because it is not only a matter of providing a text that helps to identify a work, it is also necessary to take into account the captivating potential of this element.
Because creating a good title is synonymous with arousing the reader’s curiosity, while allowing it to be engraved in the reader’s mind so that he or she will never forget the work he or she has seen. And it is more likely that someone will end up getting a book that he has in his memory, than another one that he has erased from it, no matter how much it has attracted his attention.
The title of a book also helps to create a global perspective of its content and guide the reader to know if they are in front of something they like. It could be said, in short, that we are before an invitation from the author to the public, a letter of introduction that can end in the purchase of the work.
The title of the book is not an independent entity, it has several complements that help to reinforce its mission of inviting the reader to get to know the work. In this case we are talking about the subtitle, which helps to give more information about the content, or that reinforces the mystery about it (an example: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where the subtitle also helps the reader to know what adventures of the young wizard we are facing).
Symbols are another complement to the title of a book, and should be taken into account when creating the title of your work. For example, you can incorporate a cross if the theme is religious, or a Celtic symbol if you are thinking of creating a fantasy story related to this culture. In this way, this element will serve as the first call for attention and the rest of the cover will be in charge of capturing.
Characteristics of a good title
Given the importance of the title of a book, it is good to stop at this point when you are going to create it. These are the keys that you cannot avoid:
The length of the title
When creating the title of the book, you should not overdo it, neither in terms of length. We recommend, however, that it should be a simple sentence (in case you want to use the subordinate clause, we advise you to leave this for the possible subtitle). Do you want a little trick? Use the “rule of five”, think of five words that serve to define an important aspect of the work: plot, main character, metaphor of the content, etc.
Although the potential reader can get an idea of the plot, or content, of the book thanks to the synopsis, the title should be an element that sets the first stone on this path. An example? Well, the case of The Lord of the Rings, and others that are more specific, such as Dracula, which reflect the main character.
Of course, do not go overboard like Robert Louis Stevenson, who chose to call his famous work Robinson Crusoe, as follows The Life and Strange and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, a sailor who lived for twenty-one years alone on an uninhabited island off the coast of America, near the mouth of the great Orinoco River, having been washed ashore after a shipwreck, in which all the men died except him. With an explanation of how he was finally unusually freed by pirates, written by himself.
The title of a scientific article is descriptive, but it is rarely catchy. Think that the title of your book should catch the attention of the reader who does not know it, especially if you are a little-known author. There are a number of words that can help you achieve this goal, such as “murder” or “strangler” in the case of the novel, noir, or words that provoke synesthesia if you have opted for poetry.
Examples of interesting titles
Let’s look at some titles of the most famous works, so you can discover the power of this element of the cover. Let’s start with To Kill a Mockingbird, which refers to what, according to the novel, is the greatest sin a person can commit (by the way, the work was originally going to be called Atticus, in reference to one of the main characters). We can also highlight El amor en los tiempos del cólera, El abrazo del monstruo, or approaching to other genres Luces de bohemia or 20 canciones de amor y una canción desesperada.
Titles for books according to their genre
Each literary genre has its keys and this also applies to the title of the work. While there are a number of common recommendations, there are also details that are not shared. Let’s see what they are, so that you can make the most of them.
In this case, titles should not only be captivating, but also touching. Think about your target audience: children? No! Parents will be the ones to decide if a story is good and appropriate for their child, and a good way to find out is through this textual element, which will put them on the track of the content. A good tip is simple rhymes, or the use of kind words.
Poetry is responsible for evoking emotions in the reader and something similar should pursue the title of a collection of poems. For this reason, we are going to recommend you to use literary figures such as alliteration, synesthesia or metaphor. Keep in mind that you will also have to describe the emotions that can be awakened in the reading of the verses.
These are works that base their plot around a mystery. The title you give it cannot be different, you have to get the reader interested in the content. A good idea in this sense is to make metaphors around the crime that marks your thriller, or directly write as if we were crime reporters. An example? Remembering Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express or 10 negritos (which refers to the song that marks the development of the crimes in the work).
The fantasy genre should transport us to other worlds, and so should the title you are going to create in this genre. Therefore, we recommend that you use words and synonyms that refer to the universe you are writing about. For example, in the case of epic fantasy it is appropriate to mention magical creatures such as trolls or dragons, as well as elements such as armor or swords.
It is also important that you pay attention to what title you give your essay, and that it should have a more academic tone or state the theme you are going to develop in the topic, just as in theater you will have to help place the reader in the place where the main action is going to take place.
Tips for a title to captivate your readers
In short, what is it that makes a title captivating and others not? Let’s look at the ingredients you should not avoid in this part of the process of creating your book.
- It should fit the plot of a book: Even if it is evocative, the book title should refer to the plot and/or content of the book. Do not get too carried away with metaphors as this may cause the reader to get the wrong idea of what he/she is going to face and end up feeling cheated by the author, which is not good publicity.
- Make reference to the main character: If the main character of your book is the main character and no other character has so much weight in the plot, it is a good idea to call the work in the same way. A good example is the saga of the youngest wizard in history, Harry Potter, or The House of Bernarda Alba.
- Use time indicators: Making reference to a specific moment in time can help the reader to place himself in the plot. For example, let’s imagine your book is a crime novel that takes place in winter, you could title it Blood in the Snow or The December Killer.
- Provoke mystery: The success of gossip is based on the fact that someone knows something that you do not. And there is no element with greater mobilizing force than human curiosity. Therefore, cause mystery around the plot that can be found by opening the pages of your work. An example? Let’s turn to Pablo Poveda’s thriller ¿Quién mató a Laura Coves?
The title of the book is a fundamental element since it serves as a letter of introduction to the work. A place almost as important as the cover, so we recommend you pay close attention when deciding. What’s more, you don’t need to have it ready before you start writing, you can perfectly wait until the closing of your manuscript to think about it (it can even help you).
Don’t forget that, like other elements of your novel, the title can also be evaluated by a zero reader when you present the manuscript you want him or her to review before sending it to a publisher.