Ask 100 different authors what the most difficult part of writing is and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Ask me that question, and I’ll tell you:
Picking a damn title.
I mean, the title is that first big impression; you can’t afford to blow it! It has to entice the reader, but not be over the top. It needs to convey some kind of feeling or message, but only in a few syllables. It must give the potential reader an idea of what they’re in for while still hiding something interesting behind the veil. That’s a lot of pressure.
His Name Was Zach, the title of my debut novel, was originally just a placeholder, the first thing I could think of. And honestly, I don’t even remember how exactly it came to me. But after the story was written and I returned to the title, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting. His Name Was Zach contained the name of the protagonist, gave a little clue about the tone of the story, but left something to be imagined.
If you’re a writer, and you’re struggling picking a title for your book, here’s some advice. First, start with a placeholder. Just as I did, whatever comes to mind first, jot that down and move on. Come back later and play with it a little, you might twist it just enough that it becomes workable.
Or maybe your placeholder doesn’t work out, that’s okay! At least now you know what you don’t want the title to be. As Thomas Edison famously said about his repeated failures: I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Second, and be careful with this one, but look to other books in your genre for ideas. I say be careful because you obviously don’t want to go plagiarizing. However, skimming some titles of other books in your genre can be a big help. You’ll see formats that inspire you, and titles that give you a clear indication of what not to do, as well.
Now, I know some of my readers are also authors, so I must ask you: how did you pick the title of your book? Share your titles in the comments below!