Book Titles

By Megan DiMaria

So, you’ve finished writing your masterpiece. What are you going to title it?

Titles are tricky. You’ve got to choose one that encapsulates your plot and theme. Also, it’s best to title your manuscript before submitting it to an agent or an editor. That way the project feels more complete.

Some ideas to keep in mind while choosing a title for your book are:
• Keep it short and sweet. With titles, less is more. Here are some examples from one of my favorite authors, Maeve Binchy: Evening Class, Tara Road, The Glass Lake.
• Make the titles descriptive. Evoke the sense of your theme or plot. This is especially true in fiction titles, which are more creative than non-fiction titles. Again, some titles from Ms. Binchy:Circle of Friends, Light a Penny Candle.
• Make use of your thesaurus. Find a key word for your book and look for synonyms. Sometimes one word will lead you to another idea.
• Don’t be married to you title. Many (most!) times, publishers scrap your title for a new one. Don’t be dismayed. They have more experience selecting titles than you do anyway.

My books’ titles were changed after I submitted them to the publisher. Searching for Spice was originally Searching for Spice Mountain. The reason for the change is that the original title sounded too literary. Out of Her Hands was originally called All Shook Up, but that had too much of an Elvis sound to it.

Some notable titles that were changed are:
• At This Point, changed to All the President’s Men
• Private Fleming, His Various Battles, changed to The Red Badge of Courage
• Before the Anger, changed to Roots
• First Impressions, changed to Pride and Prejudice

Karen Ball, author, literary agent, and owner of Karen Ball Publishing Services advises authors to concentrate on the tone and genre of their books when selecting a title.

Karen also says to keep your characters in mind when choosing a title. Think about your character’s personality, personal struggle, conflicts, lessons learned, flaws, physical characteristics, and occupation or calling, among other facets.

My family always speaks in complete sentences when we communicate. But for the several days when we were brainstorming titles for Out of Her Hands, we fell into a bizarre pattern.

Daughter to me as we passed on the stairs, “Coming Unhinged.”

My response, “Hold on, Honey.”

And one night when my dear husband kissed me goodnight, he said, “Which Way is Up?”

Ahhh. Brainstorming titles is something else.


megan dimariaMegan DiMaria has been a freelance writer for 20 years and is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands, both of which are set in the Denver area. She is a member of several writers’ groups and enjoys encouraging other writers in their pursuits. Visit Megan online at or at her blog at

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