Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How I Choose My Titles

Unrelated announcement first: my novelette, The Only Sparkle, looks to be live on all my vendors. I've updated its page with the cover, description, and direct links to each purchasing location. You can find all that here. Now we just need to put together that newsletter with the free code. Promise it'll be out by Friday at the very latest.

On topic: the title for the novelette is pretty simple to explain. I went with a longer (TOS is only the short form since, well, it's shorter), funny title mean to capture the essence of the story. I like using a longer title for a shorter work, as there has been some precedent for this with magazine articles and it differentiates from novels.

The real topic, though, stemmed from this link. It's an article talking about a recent naming trend for novels. A trend I participated in without realizing it. Apparently, The ___'s Daughter is popular right now. I had no idea when I named my first novel.

I suppose I should describe my naming process. Generally, at some point while I'm writing, I settle on a title that I like. Sometimes I have it in mind to begin with, other times it comes as part of the on-going world building. In the case of a series, I often have ideas for the next several titles.

For instance, with the Spirit Binder's series, I tentatively would like to use The Binder's Husband and The Binder's Destiny as subsequent titles. They fit with the roughly planned themes. It's all subject to change (or expand) as the story dictates, but there was a method to the madness.

With the Symphony of Two Keys series (of which Fates' Motif is forthcoming), I have three other tittles planned. A symphony typically consists of four movements, hence four parts. Each title then, is planned to have a link to a more-or-less famous classical movement that fits the planned theme. A little more in depth, but with Google, not as hard as you might think.

Incidentally, Fates' Motif is a nod to Beethoven's Fifth. You know, the popular ba-ba-ba-baaahm. The urban legend is that the popular theme was meant to represent Fate knocking at the door (though this intention has not been proven, and, in fact, is viewed somewhat skeptically by experts). The legend runs parallel to my own theme, so it resonated with me if nothing else. The other titles have been similarly named.

So basically, I settle on a name, and then I Google it to see if it has any, well, bad associations. I would hate to name a book and find out later that it is the exact same name as a something completely unrelated. I definitely don't want to match another book, but in today's digital age, I think you even have to be wary of other products and services as well. You simple want a search to turn up your book, and nothing else crazy.

There weren't any other Binder's Daughters, but I didn't check for "insert term here" Daugther stories. My searching isn't that intense. It's interesting to be part of a trend you weren't aware of. I don't think this is a bad thing, though I'm somewhat miffed (/sarcasm) that my book wasn't mentioned in the article.


Nadja Notariani said...

First of all...CONGRATS! Free code for novelette? Oh, yeah. :)

Secondly, I hate being in on a 'trend'...I'd rather be setting a new one.(I like to think that I come up with new/unused ideas and then people see them and gasp, 'Oh, My! Why ever didn't I think of such a most super-ly excellent idea??'...lol...I know...leave me to my fantasies) I guess it may help sales if someone searches 'daughter' for results, though.

I do have to agree it took a lot of nerve to leave your title off that illustrious list. Humph. There's no accounting for taste...

On a serious note, I enjoyed reading how you come up with titles. And...I like the idea of googling it to check for matches! I love thinking up titles for books, but I have a difficult time selecting one. I may have to try a page from your 'naming-guide'. Thanks.

Have a great week!

Matt said...

Yeah. I want to do more sales as I release more. Along those same lines, I want to raise my novel price out of the $2.99 area, but I don't want to fleece my readers. I think offering long term cheapy codes solves a lot of my issues with price. It lets me reward friends/family/readers. It keeps the effective price down without giving an undue appearance of being "cheap" or "bargain basement" because I'm not "good." It just couches everything in a more positive light. Also, there's the side benefit of: who doesn't like to feel like they have the "hook ups." Giving codes and encouraging people to share gives all of my dedicated family/friends/readers those hook ups.

Yeah, I like to shoot for original, too. In this case, the title is still unique (until you remove "Binder" which is the key component in my mind). I don't want to ride someone else's gravy train (more on this in a moment).

The Google search seems to me to be a very simple step to check up on your title before publication. I could make a whole long post out on Search Engine Optimization topics. As a serial blogger, I'm well aware of a lot of the theories, and sometimes take advantage of them.

Personally, I try to walk the line of not gaming the system simply for the sake of hits, but not hamstringing myself by burying my head in the sand. I think of it the same way I do English grammar rules. They always say you have to know the rules before you can properly break them. I take the same approach to SEO, aiming for the middle ground where I give myself the best opportunity I can to succeed... but true to MY way.

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