Coming up with a killer book title is hard. There’s a lot at stake in a title: It’s your readers’ first impression of your work, and it’s got to be evocative, unique, and precise. The pressure can be overwhelming!
But we at Writer’s Relief have got some great tips to help you come up with the perfect title for your novel or your nonfiction book. And you can apply these concepts to your short stories and poetry as well. With a little preparation and brainstorming, you’ll land on the perfect title for your book!
Elements Of Great Book Titles
Poetic language. Some of the best titles—the ones we remember—use evocative language to make a statement. Sometimes, the language verges on poetic. Consider elusive and somewhat vague titles like: Gone with the Wind; Of Mice and Men; Grapes of Wrath; Snow Falling On Cedars; The Fault in Our Stars.
Action words. Titles that showcase strong verbs leap off the shelves. Things Fall Apart is clear and haunting. Gone Girl is energetic and in-your-face. A Game Of Thrones sets a precedent for tension.
Inherent mystery/conflict. Great titles hint at the story to come. They point to the main conflict: What’s at stake? When a title can concisely encapsulate action, you’ve got a great shot at getting a reader’s attention in just a few words.
Consider Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: It’s a long title, but it’s so good. It suggests an epic battle between powerful archetypes, but it also offers the quiet, quaintly creepy image of a garden at night. The Light in Ruins does something similar.
Character’s names. Often (but not always) titles that make use of character names have an element of mystery attached to them as well. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; The Picture of Dorian Gray; Harry Potter And The [Fill In The Blank Here]. Books with character names can also be whimsical, such as: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?; Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Place names. If your book has a great setting (a setting that has strong branding), you might want to use that to your advantage. The Last Time I Saw Paris showcases the City of Lights with a touch of nostalgia (it also hints at conflict, at something lost and longed-for). Death Comes To Pemberley makes great use of the estate that’s familiar to all readers of Pride and Prejudice, but adds a modern layer of mystery and drama.
Quirky titles. Some titles embody contrasts that make readers say, huh? And, of course, that leads them to read the back cover to find out what’s going on: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; One of our Thursdays is Missing; Pineapple Grenade; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The one-word title. These titles tend to work best with really strong cover art. Here are a few one-word titles: Slammed; Affliction; Stranded, etc.
Titles And Book Genre
If you’re writing in a commercial book genre, be sure you have a good understanding of how titles within that particular genre work. And we wouldn’t recommend straying too far away from the conventions of genre book titles; fans of specific genres use titles as a kind of shorthand when they’re deciding what to buy and whether a book will live up to their expectations.
For example: Your thriller might be called Death At First Light. Your romance might be To Kiss A Lady. But you wouldn’t want to switch those titles around.
Just for fun: Check out this book title generator. And here are Goodreads users’ favorite book titles.
Title And Copyright Law
As of this writing, authors can’t copyright their titles in America (which is why if you plug certain titles into Amazon, you’ll come up not only with multiple movies but also multiple books of the same title).
That said, we don’t recommend using the same title that someone else has previously used. It makes it more difficult for your book to stand out.
When In Doubt, Get Help
If you’re coming up with a title, ask friends and family for help. Host a brainstorming session. Sometimes, a new perspective is the best way to hit on just the right title for your book.
But remember: If you’re hoping to publish with a traditional publisher, there’s some possibility that you might not be able to keep your title anyway. Publishers tend to change them (and, don’t worry, your publisher will fret about the perfect title right along with you).
Photo by Trevor Coultart.
QUESTION: What’s one of your favorite titles?
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Coming up with a good book title or book title ideas can be maddening.
They’re super critical to your book’s marketability and yet sometimes the right words just don’t pop out of thin air.
Don’t worry, most authors suffer from trying to come up with good names for books and usually go straight for their next cup of joe, glass of wine, or bottle of vodka in order to search for a little extra creativity.
In the past, I have spent hours toiling away with my notepad coming up with a list of potential book titles, only to feel as though they were all missing the mark. The perfect title that holds strong creativity and marketability can be as elusive as an honest politician.
But thankfully, we no longer have to go it alone because there are some incredible tools, like novel title generators, that I have found to help me with just that and I’ve listed all the best by their genre specialty below.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- What a book title generator is and isn’t
- The best free book title generators
- Other tools to help validate your ideas
Bonus: Download my personal guide on creating book titles that increase sales, and discoverability on Amazon.
List of Book Name Generators
The funny thing about random book name generators is that many of them are niche specific – which is a good thing. Let’s face it, the typical sentence structure and word lexicon for erotica book titles are completely different than sci-fi…or let’s hope.
Therefore, using one type of random title generator for all kinds of books is a bad idea. So, to help you get the most out of a story name generator, I’m going to present a list of devices/services that have a specific setting for a particular niche/genre.
You might notice that a couple are mentioned multiple times. That’s because some of these title tools allow you to just click on a different genre.
Fantasy Name Generators
Sci-Fi Title Generators
Horror Name Generators
Romance Title Generators
Mystery Novel Title Generators
Non-Fiction Title Generators
But nothing beats a Title that shows exactly what people are typing into Amazon. The best Non-fiction title is the one that uses the words of the customer. In order to figure out WHAT people are typing into amazing, make sure to learn about Kindle keywords, or use a special tool that will pull this information for you.
Children’s Book Title Generators
If those don’t work, here’s a great article on how to title your children’s book.
Comic Book Name Generators
Other Types of Book Title Generators
As you can see there are all sizes and shapes when it comes to title name generators. Just remember, these are best used to help with book title ideas and can help shape how you create your ultimate book title.
Found One? Now What?
So, you just checked out some tools that will get your creative juices flowing, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was something to help you figure out if the book title was marketable and would stand the chance of selling well?
Well, the super cool peeps at Lulu did just that.
They created a free tool that will grade your title based on its likelihood to succeed. To create it, Lulu and their team of statisticians studied a list of the best-selling titles from 1955 to 2004 and ultimately bottled up that success into a super cool tool, the Lulu TitleScorer.
All you need to do is type in your title, help give it a running grammar start, and click “Analyze My Title.” Then the tool will go through its records and give you a score ranging from 0-100 on the likelihood of success.
Now, if only I could remember the difference between an abstract, concrete and proper noun…thank goodness for Google.
Got Some Good Book Names? How About Testing It!
Now that you’ve used some creative book titles tools and even checked it against a title analyzer, how about testing it with your market? Some people will go to Facebook groups and ask, but most of the time this comes from random people that aren’t even your target market.
Instead, I personally like using PickFu. This survey service, will take your potential book titles, find the target market for you and have them vote on which one they like. Not only will you get to see which one is the best of them all, you’ll get some key insight into why your target market loves one over the other.
Basically, PickFu takes the guess work out of it and gives your data.
You can even see how I used Pickfu to test a book description for the famous book Battlefield Earth. Unsurprisingly, my book description helped Galaxy Press double their conversion rates and make more sales. So, test, test, test…or else you could be losing out on book sales!
If You’d Like to Learn More about Book Title Generators
To help you with learning about book title generators, here are a couple more resources and links:
7 Tools for Creating Superb Bestselling Book Titles – This article will help you test even more than just Lulu’s listed above. It can help you dive deeper into book title testing. This way you’ll know your book generator is the right one.
Feeding Your Writer’s Creativity – If you need more help in the creativity department, then check this out and learn how to give your writer brain a boost when coming up with your title through the above generators.
Collection of Great Book Title Ideas on Pinterest – Here’s a Pinterest page that collects some of the best book titles and lets you see what other creative authors have come up with over the years.
So What Are You Waiting For?
As you can see, there are a bunch of tools to help authors jump-start their creative juices and even a tool to help ensure it’s marketable.
Although they aren’t perfect, they are free and better than nothing – especially when serendipity is not on your side.
So, give these book title generators a go, and don’t forget to download my free guide below on how to create a book title that sells.