You know, the music industry has been singing the same tale of woe recently. Only, in relation to band names. It seems all the good ones are taken. And the bad ones, too.
But we talk books here, don’t we? Publishers Weekly just reported that 764,000 self-published books were produced in 2009, plus 288,355 traditional books. With that many books pouring into the marketplace, you’re bound to get duplicate titles, or recycled titles from the past. The good thing is, you can’t copyright a title. But think twice before you reuse one. If it’s established—like, say, Dune—you aren’t doing yourself any favors by choosing it. Instead, strive for a title that reflects the distinctiveness of your story. Titles that suggest themes—Betrayal, for instance—tend to land flat with readers. They don’t promise ‘fresh.’ Find something particular in your story that is the crux of the deal, and build your title around that. For example, I can’t imagine why in the world anyone would ever repeat, by accident or on purpose, Because of Winn-Dixie, or Whales on Stilts. Those titles are specific to those stories, and they have immense personality. You worked hard to come up with a fresh angle on a universal theme for your story, do the same for the title you hang on it.
A call to all readers: I’ve always LOVED the topic of titles—hearing good ones, brainstorming new ones with authors. For the sake of inspiration, let’s share some favorites. I’ll start: Love Among the Walnuts. Yours?