I knew someone online who wrote her first novel and did a lot of good things to publicize it. She mentioned it in forums where she was known and created a website and live-action trailer to promote it. I was impressed with the care and effort she took.
But I cringed when I saw her title. Was it horrifying or disgusting? No. But she never ran a search before choosing it. There were 44 books with the same title already in existence. Within a week, a search of her title showed her buried on page three at Amazon.
Titles are not copyrightable. There’s no way to stop someone from using one that’s been used before. If you absolutely, positively have your heart set on a specific title you still need to run that search. If there are too many in print, rethink it. Play around with the words, dig out The Synonym Finder, and focus on your theme. While it’s best for a title to be unique, if there are only a few other books that use it, it’s fine as long as you remain on the first page.
The second problem with her title (and no, I’m not telling the name of the book) was that I couldn’t see any connection to the somewhat lengthy synopsis I read. The title and cover art matched but all three needed to be in sync. Short of reading the book, I had no clue why she chose that title.
What upset me was how simple these two mistakes were and how much they cost her. Being an indie author is hard enough without shooting ourselves in the foot.
- Make your title relevant to the story.
- Run an online search to find out if others have used it for their book.
- If there are so many that your book might end up on page two or worse, change it.
I didn’t come up with a title for my novel until it was almost completed. And I ended up changing it to something totally different by the time I began working with a cover artist. (This is the sanitized version, omitting the screams of frustration and foot stomping.) I liked my first title but my writers’ group gave me valuable feedback and I realized that I needed to give my novel its best shot.
Doesn’t yours deserve the same?