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Thread: Titles

  1. #1
    Amanda Townsend
    Guest

    Titles

    Okay, so my novel is written, edited, revised, and edited again. And again. And again. And now the only thing that I can't seem to perfect is the title. So my question is this...What constitutes a good title? How important is the title in comparison to your actual query/novel? I know that--if you are indeed lucky enough to find representation--agents can help you with suggestions of what a better title might be, but I would obviously prefer if I could create one on my own. Help, Oh, wise ones!



  2. #2
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    A catchy title is always helpful at the query phase, but the publisher is going to have a lot to say in the title in the end, so take your best shot and don't let it hold you up too much in getting into the process.

  3. #3
    Amanda Townsend
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    Great! Thanks a lot, Gary. Another question for you--you seem to always be ready with advice in these discussions--is about my credentials. To put it bluntly...I have none. Mostly due to the fact that I am quite young. So I'm puzzled as to what I should include in a query about myself, or if I should include anything at all besides the handful of sentences regarding the plot. Most resources I've looked at have advised that you should say something about yourself, but I have little faith that any agents would be interested in anything besides that I've been writing for most of my life. But that, I am fully aware, does not a good writer make. =[

  4. #4
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    If you have anything that supports your writing of this manuscript, that might be useful to mention. If not, just don't say anything. Substandard credits just point out that they are the best you can offer. Silence makes no claims but also isn't definitively limiting.

  5. #5
    Diane Snyder-Haug
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    Amanda,

    My understanding, through reading books and going to writing classes, that the best titles are one to four words long. I know this is hard, but keep that in mind. Think of "Gone with the Wind", "The Firm", "The Shining", "Interview with a Vampire" etc. Also, Gary is right, publisher/agent may suggest/make changes, but that being said, a catchy title will help get that initial attention you're looking for. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Frank Baron
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    Can't help regarding titles, except to emphasize what Gary said about choosing same being a prerogative that publishers like to clutch to their bosoms. Don't worry overmuch about it. Whatever you like is likely to be changed when the marketing poobahs get their hands on it anyway.

    Don't worry about your lack of credentials. It's your writing ability that will carry the day. Don't be afraid to let your personality make its presence felt in your query. That can intrigue an editor as much as a few credits. Try to avoid the assembly-line, by-the-book query formats, while still keeping it short n' sweet.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    . Castleman
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    I have nothing to add to what these people have said. But I will say this: congrats on being finished!!!!!! How lond did it take to get the manuscript written?

  8. #8
    L Bea
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    The only thing I'll add is that if you want to ask for title ideas, go for it. We're a creative bunch... I've seen it done here and it's absolutely fascinating the ideas you can get. Small blurb about the story and a suggestion or two about your own title and see what comes of it. At the very least, ideas submitted will trigger something from YOU. (Maybe a new thread though.)

    Bea

  9. #9
    Anthony Ravenscroft
    Guest

    Re: Titles

    New writers often spend FAR too much time agonising over a title before they're anywhere near having a completed draft.

    Sometimes it's nice to have a working title in front of you when you sit down to begin, but it's hardly necessary.

    As your manuscript begins to pull together, a more stable working title will likely present itself.

    It's good to have a working title in front of you as you write, especially if it helps you maintain the tone & focus you desire. However, like the flag sticking out of the hole on a golf green, you might have to get the thing out of the way in order to complete the game.

    Newer writers -- especially those who aren't voracious readers &/or serious library denizens -- often have little idea how often their "stunningly original" ideas have been used over the centuries. That includes titles. Even if you despise Amazon.com's role in book sales, the site is fantastic for looking up your proposed title & variants.

    The shorter your proposed title, the more likely that it's been done a few hundred times. Look up Dead Air.

    Avoid pasting "A Novel" to the end of your title. That obviousness is a prerogative of the publisher.

    ALWAYS remember: you might spend a hundred hours crafting the perfect title. Your agent loves the title. Your editor loves the title. Chances are the nice offer you get was directly influenced by that title.

    ...then Marketing changes it.

    So, choose your battles with care.

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