Good titles are the best way of grabbing the attention of your audience. Have you ever been drawn to a book in a bookshop, an article in a magazine or a blog on a website by its title? Or, have you ever rejected a book because of its title?
If you want your work to stand out, a good title is important so here are some tips on how you can come up with a good title.
Good titles are not only attention grabbing they are also memorable. Here are some well-known examples of distinctive and memorable titles:
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss)
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M Pirsig)
- How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (Toby Young)
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Schafer)
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Oliver Sacks)
Aim for the widest audience
Think of your title as an advertisement for your book. Titles such as My Memoirs, The History of the xxx Family, My Holiday, The Story of My Life don’t work beyond family and friends. If you want to reach a wider audience, you have to find a title which has a broader appeal.
Titles should be relevant
A title should reflect your content. Don’t disappoint or mislead your readers by using a title which is irrelevant or inappropriate (the title of this post may not be very creative or inventive but it does clearly state what the topic is).
Choose a title which makes people curious
One way of grabbing the attention of a prospective reader is to choose a title which provokes an emotional response or makes them curious. For example, an enigmatic title, an outrageous title, an emotive title or a humorous title. However, don’t alienate your potential readers by making your title too quirky or too clever.
Use an original title
Book titles are not protected by copyright and so, in theory, you could pinch someone else’s title. However, it is advisable and much more fun to come up with your own original title. If you are really stuck for ideas you could look for inspiration from the titles of existing books etc.. You could even play around with the words to create a new title with a twist.
Alliteration and other devices
People respond to titles that are memorable and so using devices such as alliteration and rhyme can help to make a title more memorable.
Use a quote
Look for a quote or some dialogue in your writing which captures the spirit of your book, story, article. If you are writing a life story or family history you could use a family quote or family motto as your title.
Keep your titles short
It is generally better to keep your titles short but if you come up with a longer one don’t sacrifice it for a shorter, less inspired title. However, the titles of some well-known books are (very) short:
1984 (George Orwell)
Emma (Jane Austen)
Bolt (Dick Francis)
It (Stephen King)
Atonement (Ian McEwan)
Ivanhoe (Walter Scott)