Spine teasers

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Working titles are fine, but there comes a time to focus on a publishable title. For novels and picturebooks, it’s worth the time to revise titles endlessly until you find the perfect one. It’s a job I prefer to do myself instead of leaving up to the marketing department.

Revising titles

  • Metaphor. Sol Stein suggests looking for a metaphor, such as “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
  • Rhythm. Again, Sol Stein suggests iambic meter for titles. Whatever meter you use, pay attention to how the title trips off the tongue.
  • Think spines. The title needs to fit on the book’s spine. Long titles are hard to fit, so try for a shorter title and use a subtitle.
  • Subtitle. Subtitles are great for search engines, so pack them with keywords.
  • Intriguing and Memorable. The catchier the title, the better it’s remembered, much like advertising jingles. In fact, the title is just an advertising gimmick, so that’s a great analogy.

I’m brainstorming titles right now for an environmental book. I want something as memorable as The Call of the Wild, or The Cry of the Kalahari. I’m making lists and asking people to read them and vote on their favorites. Then adding to the list and trying again. Still haven’t found the right one, but I’m reaching for it.

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