This is a difficult question to answer because it’s a combination of a personal emotion for the author as well as something that will capture the reader’s imagingation. For a nonfiction book (especially a how-to) it’s easy enough to come up with something. If you want to teach others how to build your own house, titles such as “How to Build Your Dreamhouse” or “Housebuilding Made Simple” or “Building a House for Dummies” come to mind.
For novels, however, it’s a different situation entirely. If you’re already a highly visible novelist such as Stephen King, it doesn’t matter what you call it, although I don’t believe Mr. King would slap on any old title. It would have to be one with which he felt comfortable. I can tell you how I selected the three titles for each of my three books in a trilogy. With “Sissy!” I heard the name of a child calling out for her guardian angel. With “All Parts Together” I used a portion of a Walt Whiman line (“Sure as life holds all parts together, death holds all parts together). For my third book, I used “Angels at Sunset” originally because I felt it had a beautiful feel to it. I really didn’t think much about the reader at all. After all, Sissy is the name of a girl, All Parts Together would only be familiar to someone who was intimate with Whitman’s poems, and Angels at Sunset sounds like a story about angels. If you really need to let people know what your story is about, you can put a short subtitle under your mail title, such as “Dumbo”—“Sometimes an elephant can fly”
I guess if your only intention is to make shoppers stop to stare at your title, you can put something sexy like “Who is Wearing Jane’s Panties?” or “Jim Unzipped” or “I Was Shocked To Find My Was a Man.” But if your book doesn’t deliver on its promise, you’re sunk.
I think maybe the choice of title isn’t as important as the combination of the title and the graphics that go with it. I think it’s better to have a so-so title with great graphics and eye appeal than to have a fantastic title with extremely poor graphics. I do all of my own covers and the one I loved the best was the cover I did not “Angels at Sunset.” The title is quite visible ten feet away—and who can no like the natural beauty of a Kansas sunset? And I think there’s a connection between the word “Angels” and the woman standing in the field holding a “Votes for Women” sign.
If you want to get a copy of “Angels at Sunset” simply call toll-free at 1-800-BOOK-LOG The price is only $16.95. (I think that’s less that the price of three lattes at Starbucks.)
I have no magic formula on how to come up with the best title for your novel. In all of my fiction, I always had the title in mind before I wrote the book, but that’s how I did it. This might not work for you.
All I can say is that a title is in the eye of the beholder (or is it “beauty:?)
Please visit my OTHER blog. www.TomMach.com I am sure you will enjoy that one as well.