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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Titles (Or a Rose by Any Other Name...)

There are few things an author labors over more than the title of a new book or series. I'm no exception. Since I am primarily an e-published author, my titles are (generally) selected by moi (slid a little French in there for kicks, LOL). I will devote hours and hours of time to web surfing, searching for inspiration for The Perfect Title. I read song lyrics. Book titles. Excerpts. I read my dictionary of common expressions and try to think of ways to tweak a cliche. Spend hours looking up key words on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. If all else fails, I turn to writing friends and plead for help. I have a few buddies who are extremely gifted in this area. Thank Goodness!!

Do my titles always "work" the way I want them to? No, I can see they don't. I tend to like more "mainstream" sounding titles. Titles that are snappy and clever. Twists on words. Titles that can mean more than one thing. In the world of erotic romance, that's not always a good thing.

I thought about these things as I brainstormed titles for my new series, and the launch book for the series. Did I come up with The Perfect Title? I hope I did. I love it. I think it's intriguing. But then again, like I said, my tastes fall toward the mainstream fiction side.

What title did I choose? Not telling yet :) I want to hear some responses to this post least, I hope I'll hear some responses. At this point, with the blog being so new, I'm thinking I'm mostly talking to myself :)

What titles have caught my eye as a reader? "Carpe Demon" (is that freaking clever or what?!); "Undead and Unwed" (Mary Janice Davidson); "Bite Me" (Jaci Burton has some really fun titles); "It's a Vampire Thing" (Dakota Cassidy is another author with clever one-of-a-kind titles); "A Girl's Guide to Vampires" (I just discovered Katie MacAlister and I will be sharing a common title: "Light My Fire").

Any readers out there who want to share what kinds of titles make you take a second look? I'd LOVE to hear!

posted by Tawny Taylor at 8:53 AM |


Commented by Blogger Debora:

You are so right - a great title can help you just like a horrible title will do you in. I love the catchy, clever titles that make you wonder or instantly grab your attention. Cover art is just as important in my opinion. I'll be honest - I quickly move past anything with "secret baby" on the cover! (I'm ready for the mound of hate mail I'll probably get for that comment!)

9:44 AM 
Commented by Blogger Tawny Taylor:

Hi Debora! Thanks so much for posting.

I'm with you on the "secret baby". You won't get any hate mail from me :)

9:50 AM 
Commented by Blogger Crystal Jordan:

Yeah, secret babies are so overdone. I can't handle that stuff! Eek!!

I'm with you on titles that have a twist on common words and phrases. I'm not sure how great they are for erotica, but they make me take a second look because they ARE clever.

10:05 AM 
Commented by Blogger Diana Castilleja:


I think you have catchy titles too. "carpe demon" makes me laugh at the twist, and I do believe a good title can make a world of difference. I look more for genre reads and authors though, than just the title, so take heart. The title is the culmination of everything. And when I find an author I like, I tell the world! :)

10:51 AM 
Commented by Blogger Tawny Taylor:

Thanks for posting, Diana! Carpe Demon is brilliant, isn't it? That's a Julie Kenner novel. A great book. As funny and clever as its title. I'm just like you. I love telling people about authors and books I like! Which is why I work in a book store :) My boss appreciates that characteristic a whole lot. LOL

And thanks to you too, Crystal! This has been a fun discussion and I'm taking notes. I will definitely keep the words "secret baby" out of all future book titles. LOLOL

10:57 AM 
Commented by Anonymous Anonymous:

I think catchy and clever can backfire on an author if they aren't careful.

Sort of like when you drive past a beauty salon named A Cut Above, Sheer Delights or Sheer Wizardry...I groan and fight not to roll my eyes--I am driving, after all. :)

Same goes for the banal and disgustingly self-explanatory titles. It's like the author said, "Oh hell with it" and named their story Colorado, after the setting.

But you're right, titles are very hard--almost as hard and bios.

Good Luck in the hunt.

11:41 AM 
Commented by Blogger Shawn:

I am the absolute worst at choosing titles! Out of 8 wips only 1 has a title. :(

I love secret baby books, but not like when the hero doesn't find out about the baby until it's like 30. LOL!

11:48 AM 
Commented by Anonymous Linda:

Oooohhhh, Tawny has a blog. I know what I'm checking on everyday. :D

So are just a few that caught my eye enough to make me buy:

Every Which Way But Dead
The Good, The Bad, and the Undead
Dead Witch Walking
(All Kim Harrison, all very good)

Kushiel's Dart
Kushiel's Choosen
(Jacqueline Carey book and she has more)

Basically if you can't tell from this short list I like books with dark titles, someting that tells me this is a very dangerous paranormal and then honey, you got me. Especially if the cover matches my expectations of what's inside.

Some of my titles that I've sweat blood and tears over I think are rather clever, but who can say if the publishers will agree.

I have an entire series that revolves around death and so I labeled the books:

Death and the Witching Hour
Death and the Crimson Night
Death and the Fairies Touch
Death and the Howlers Moon
Death and the Daemons Kiss

I'm pretty sure you can figure out who's costarring with death in those series by the name and that's why I choose them. Now whether they'll get to stick around or not is another matter entirely. LOL

1:27 PM 
Commented by Blogger Jen:

I'm terrible at titles. The one that caught my eye just recently? The series "The Prey" "The Hunt" "The Kill". I also liked the titles "She Loves Me Naughty" by Shelli. She's the title dejour (French back at ya'). The title I thought was awful (but the book was good) "A Person Of Interest".
Man, I need HELP with titles.

2:19 PM 
Commented by Blogger Kristen Painter:

I love a good title but I struggle with them sometimes. Usually, I'll end up with a working title in the hopes that something better will come to me in the process of writing. I CANNOT write a book that has no title.

3:36 PM 
Commented by Blogger Tawny Taylor:

Interesting comment, Cerri! I hadn't thought of that. Gotta keep the "groan" factor in mind. Wow. Thanks!

OMG, Shawn. I cannot even begin to write a book that doesn't have a title. And it has to be a title I'm happy with, too. I'm such a weird one :)

Linda!!! Hi! Thanks for coming to play!
Ohhhh you've got some great ones in there. Kim Harrison's title are great. Covers too! And your titles would make me stop and take a look! Anything that says "paranorma" gets my attention.

Jen, you crack me up! LOL A Person of Interest. Yeah. That one does seem a little flat. I wouldn't want to have the job of picking titles for books for one of the big NY houses. Could you just imagine how tough that job has to be?

Kristen me too! I'm not alone :) A title is the first thing I must come up with when I start a new project. Sometimes I have a title before I have the characters. Regardless, chapter one is not written until I have a title I'm at least semi-content with. It becomes a part of the book, a part of the marketing. There's no changing it once the book's finished.

Ellora's Cave asked me to change Tempting Fate a few weeks before it released. I tried. I really, really tried. But I could NOT come up with another title that worked. Eventually, they gave up on me and let me keep it :)

5:56 PM 
Commented by Blogger Shelli Stevens:

I'm not sure. I like titles that have a play on the words. Like the first one Carpe Demon you said? I tend to put in a filler title, and not push it. And usually, anytime between midbooks and months after I finish, a title will pop into my head. I try and do the play on words too. Like my erotic novella I wrote called The Pirate's Booty.

9:07 PM 

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