Wednesday, August 19, 2015

THE IMPORTANCE OF BOOK TITLES


THIS IS ONE OF MY OWN
FAVORITE TITLES.
Why is the title of a book important?

It's the first impression one reads about the contents of the book--the story. Personally, the cover itself is more important than the title, because I am a visual learner. I will consider the cover before I even think of the title. If a cover is unattractive to me in some manner, I won't even pick it up.

Titles are equally important, but often are tricky. It's often the most difficult part of the book, in that it must convey an instant idea, thought, emotion, or hint of the story. I agonize over titles at times, but at others...the title is obvious.

But how do you choose a book to read, either from an Amazon page or a library book shelf or a book store?

What do you look for? Short titles or long titles? Blunt titles or mysterious titles. Cute or funny. Intriguing or obvious?

Titles often come from something in the story:
A place
An object
A person
An event
A time
etc.

Since I'm no expert on this subject, I took the liberty to research titles of books and see what others said. I made a list from numerous articles of titles that were changed from the original one.

Which title would intrigue you? The original one..or the new one?

1. "Trimalchio in West Egg".....or "The Great Gatsby."
2. "Catch-18"....or "Catch 22."  
3. "First Impressions"...or "Pride and Prejudice."
4. "Something That Happened"...or "Of Mice and Men."
5. "The Kingdom by the Sea"...or "Lolita."
6. "At This Point in Time"...or "All the President's Men."

See what I mean?

The title of my recent release is "Beyond the Blue Mountains." I wrote on this story for almost three years, knowing something was wrong with it, including the title. Finally, the plot came together and my two lead characters began to see an end to their common struggles. All this time, the title was "A Life Worth Living." That came to me at the very first of my writing, and I kept it until about a month before finishing the manuscript. But one day, I realized the low mountains in the distance that appeared bluish during certain times of the year were important to the story.
My characters wondered, "What is beyond those blue mountains?"
The light bulb came on. The title became "Beyond the Blue Mountains."
Then I put a train on the cover. Not the mountains. The Mountains could not be duplicated as I "saw" them, so the train is to convey either an arriving, or a leaving...or maybe both?

The very first book I wrote is Texas Blue. I titled it before I had five pages written. Why? The series I planned would have "Texas" in the titles. This first one came about when the man told the woman her eyes were bluebonnet blue.

Second book--Texas Promise--because the hero had ridden away and promised to return, but two years passed before he did. And that's when the story began.

Third book--Texas True--because the younger sister is named True Leigh Cameron-because the older sister said the baby's eyes were "truly blue."

Fourth book--Texas Dreamer-- because the youngest Cameron son ran away at age fourteen, roamed until he was in his twenties and began to dream of being a cattleman and oil man. Big Dreams.

The worst-named book I published is Making the Turn. This is a golf term meaning the point at which you finish the front nine, and move to the back nine. The players have two scores...and we always hope for a better score on the back. This give us a second chance, a starting over point. Of course, it's about a woman who just turned 40 and she must change her life--by starting over.
The cover is a golf green on a pretty course. Each chapter begins with a golf rule that, in my mind, describes what that chapter will tell.
No one got it. Everyone thought it was about golf...duh.
But this novel will be re-released one day with a new title.

These titles are on Amazon's Best Free Books List. Does the title give you a hint about the story? Do you like the title?
***The Girl In-Between
***Teaching the Boss
***Clarity
***The Intern
***Hope to Escape
***His Grandfather's Watch
***Owen's Day
***The Girl on the Train.

All these books have 30,000+ reviews each...so they must be good stories. But the titles? Most are good, but when I read the blurb, the title had little to do with the story.

Do titles matter to you? They do to me. "The Billionaires Kisses" tells me enough that I don't care to read it.

"Hope to Escape" sounds intriguing, though, as does "Owen's Day."

What is your thought on titles...either your own or books you might read?
Of your own books, which is your personal favorite?


Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/celiayeary

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14 comments:

  1. A title itself will pull me in, or push me away. For instance "The Girl In-between" would push me away because my head keeps saying: It should be The Girl In Between or The In-between Girl, and it would bother me.

    On the other hand, the most recent book I added to me want to read list on Goodreads is titled Carthage. Why? It sounds historical and Italy related and both are appealing to me. As it turns out, it's based in the states, but the title led me to read the description which led me to mark it as to-read, without even looking at the cover.

    Of my own, my favorite title is Moondrops & Thistles because it's atmospheric, nature-based, different (how many use the term moondrops?), and oppositional (moondrops sounds romantic and thistles sounds, well, prickly and unwanted).

    I am sometimes pulled in by a cover, but more often it's the title.

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    1. I do love the title Moondrops and Thistles, too.
      About the title you mention. I did not notice the error in the title, or at least the annoying way it was written. Of the two, I think I prefer The In-between Girl. Thanks for your thought--completely opposite of mine--since I always look at the cover first. Often, I can't even recall the title...but I don't easily forget the cover.

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  2. What a thought-provoking post, Celia. I had seen the list of "almost titles" before, and it's true, isn't it? Those stories would not have been quite the same with their original titles.

    Titles make a big impression on me, especially coupled with covers. If I could have only one or the other upon which to base a decision, though, I think I'd choose title. To me, the best titles are evocative but not in-your-face obvious.

    You do an excellent job with titles for your stories. I'm intrigued by the golfing title. Maybe the cover image is what threw everyone off?

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    1. As I wrote this blog, I remembered your title The Prodigal Gun. That in itself pulled me in, almost on the same level with that the author was Kathleen Rice Adams! Certain titles just stay with you.
      My golfing title made sense to me and to the three women I specifically wrote this book for. We were a longtime foursome on the golf course, but now..none of us have the strength or the ability to swing a club and play 18 holes. But they understand the title and how it fit with the book. When I had the prints copies, I threw a little foursome party for us to present the book...and have a couple glasses of wine. Ahhh, as the older of the foursome always says (sings), "Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end...." Almost makes me cry every time.
      Thanks for the comment..As usual, it was right on.

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  3. Celia -- I think the cover catches the eye, but the title does much to help my brain decide if I really want to invest in and read a book. I like short titles--one or two words, but not all books lend themselves to such. My first books I ever wrote (fans keep pestering me to finish the series) all have/will have "Aurora Re" in the titles: Aurora Rescue, Aurora Redress, Aurora Rebound, Aurora Rendezvous, etc.) Love those titles. On the other hand, I have struggled for the right titles for my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series novellas and needed a lot of help from Cheryl. Since I have featured a lot of factual events into the books, I keep wanting to stick to the facts, ma'am, at the expense of the romantic enticement.

    Thanks for your thoughts.If it were as easy to write titles and tag lines as it is to write the novels themselves, I'd be a lot further ahead of the game.

    Robyn Echols w/a Zina Abbott

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    1. The Aurora titles are very catchy and clever. Usually titles are easy for me, but sure, as you know, at times a good title is elusive.
      I, too, go by the cover more than the title. I'm picky about my own covers, and have learned much since those first books.
      Thanks for your comment. And I agree, Cheryl is a big help in times we're stuck for a solution.
      Thanks, Robyn

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  4. Great post, Celia, as always! Made me think. No, I think titles stay with me more than covers. Of course, I like the cover to hold appeal, too, so maybe I need a "winning combination" to be totally interested? I don't know.

    Love the titles that "almost were" and what they became. Those were really interesting.

    I have a story I always share with writers who are just SET on keeping their titles they've worked with from the moment they started writing their book. When I submitted Sweet Danger, it was called The Sugar Ring. Meaning that kind of pastry--one that is common here in OK, and like a cinnamon twist, but in a big ring instead. My editor said we had to think of another name--since that name could mean "many things" -- one of them having a sexual connotation. So we decided on Sweet Danger--a much better name than The Sugar Ring.

    You know I always love your posts--you've really got me thinking now.

    Cheryl

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    1. "Sweet Danger" is what I call a "killer" title. I wanted to post about "killer titles," but using authors I know wasn't a good idea. I'm always cautious about hurting someone's feelings or playing favorites, and I would have. Thanks for being here.

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  5. Titles matter to me and if they seem blah, I probably won't look beyond. While I do love great covers, it's hard to get past a boring title. In my own books, once in awhile a title just comes to me, but equally often, I go to bed and wake up trying to come up with the right one. I had one i loved-- Comes the Dawn, but it turned out it was the title of a very popular poem and i simply didn't feel comfortable keep it. It probably though was the best title for the book but once in awhile the fact that something is well known elsewhere can make it hard to use.

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    1. Rain--that's a topic I wanted to include, but the blog was too long as it is. The topic--beginning titled with The or A. I read an article that suggested we never use either. In a search engine, the A will throw the book in with hundreds that begin with an A-swallowing it up among the others. Same with The. I do have a couple of titles that begin with "The" but I kept that anyway because it seemed right.
      I always go to Amazon and search for my selected title. Some are used dozens of times. Thanks for your comment.

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  6. I know titles can make or break book sales, so I am very concerned about my book titles. Sometimes I just can't get it right. There has been a rare occasion when I have titled a book before I've begun to write the story (I am a plotter so I know where the story is going and how it's going to get there before I write it.) Sometimes I've come up with a great title only to find it had been used--maybe several times. That won't do. In fact, that's where I am with my WIP--an over used title. I hate to wait until I'm finished to title a story. I like to do it while the story theme is clear in my mind.
    I've made some big mistakes with titles, too, Celia.
    This was a wonderful blog, Celia, and a great reminder of the importance of having a good title. BTW, I've read all your "Texas" books and enjoyed every single one. Last night the power went out around 6:30 PM and didn't come back on until 2:30 AM. I wrote 2 paragraphs on my WIP (I always hand write first) by the light of a flashlight. And then I started reading your last book in the Trinity Hill trilogy. I only have a page or two left to go so I'll be doing that today when I can take the time to savory that ending. You write amazingly strong women. I love the way nothing gets them down. They always just get up and get on with it. I imagine that's a lot like you are.
    Loved this blog.

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    1. You have lovely book titles--my favorites sound almost like titles of songs--For Love of Banjo, When Love Comes Knocking, Castaway Heart--that's all I can think of right now. But your titles and your covers really work well together. Don't you hate when you think up a great title and you check Amazon for that title...and you find half a dozen. Yikes. I wrote a short story about traveling as a kid and titled it "Are We There Yet?" I should have know...I couldn17 books with that title. Back to the drawing board. Oh, and thanks soooo much for reading my books..I appreciate that.
      Hang in there with your WIP.

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  7. Titles have always been important to me when writing a story. I like to have them first since that can guide the story, but sometimes I've changed one later. I don't think a bad title deters me from a story, but certain ones certainly resonate more than others. Great post!

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    1. Some kinds of titles turn me off--is it has something bad in the title, such as Wicked, or Witch, or anything as such. Still, I have read some books with titles I didn't like--and ended up liking them. You never know. Thanks for visiting!

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