Pub Rants

Titles & Originality

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STATUS: Busy. Aren’t I always? I can’t wait until the assistant is in place so I can write slow, fat, and eating bon-bons as my status. Ha, ha. Speaking of, I have my other set of interviews this afternoon so will be out for the rest of the day

What song is playing on the ipod right now? YOU’VE MADE ME SO VERY HAPPY by Blood, Sweat & Tears

Just a heads up to all the readers. I plan to blog every day next week but cut me some slack if I miss, okay. I’m out in New York and will be doing crazy back-to-back editor appointments. My guess is that when I do blog, it will be around 10 p.m. (Eastern Time).

One thing I’ve noticed, after reading four years worth of partials, is that certain manuscript titles keep popping up.

One that sticks out in my mind, and it’s certainly not a bad title, is this one: THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPING.

Seriously, we’ve received enough partials for this one title to really stick out. And I must really like it because I keep asking for the partial to be submitted (insert ironic laughter here). I’m thinking some of these partials were not requested at least.

Titling is tough. And I’m not any good at it. When we had to rename Paula Reed’s first pirate/puritan historical romance (INTO HIS ARMS), Paula and I spent days coming up with lists. In desperation, I met my friends out at the Wynkoop Brewery to help out.

Not one of my brightest ideas to have beer, margaritas, etc. involved in the naming process. We were way thrilled with BENT OVER THE POOP DECK and spent many a minute in joyous laughter at our own creativity over that one—and don’t worry, I apologized to Paula already for that one. In the cold, stark light of the next day, I didn’t add it to the list to send to her publisher.

So here’s a thought. When you’ve got a great title and feel it’s original, plug it into I think you’ll be amazed at how many books with the same title will pop up.

You might want to play with it some more.

On the opposite end, a title too strange (and long for that matter) can be equally off-putting.

If I see some repeat titles, I’ll post ‘em here.

As for the Katie as heroine count, haven’t been seeing many lately.

25 Responses

  1. MTV said:

    Wow! Searching Amazon for the title – great idea agent Kristin! I did that and found it interesting. No titles like mine, but a very useful idea to keep titles original.

    Also, another idea that “might” be useful is searching the library of congress database LOCIS.

    Actually, I hadn’t done that either. I’m not that conerned with unpublished works at this stage of the process.

    Now, I know why I love your blog!!


  2. Aryn Kennedy said:

    Just have to say, I once stayed in downtown Denver and I loved the Wynkoop Brewery! They were having a beer connoisseur contest that night, which was very interesting.

  3. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    Someone has put together an on-line fantasy title generator using all those wonderful buzz-words that seem to pop up on the fantasy shelves. It’s fun, and I’ll admit that sometimes, the title of the book and the content of the book can seem unrelated in that genre.

    *PS I HATE trying to come up with titles.

  4. December Quinn said:


    Hmmm…a pirate/Puritan romance…

    Butter Churn of Booty? Praying for Love on the High Seas? Bible Island?

    OK, these are terrible.

  5. Anonymous said:

    I checked for my title and didn’t find any like it. I guess that’s a good thing.

  6. Sariah S. Wilson said:

    I hate coming up with titles too. But I didn’t worry about it too much because my current publisher said they almost always change the title anyway.

    But an editor at a national publishing house took a look at a partial for me and said that the title was too generic, that it didn’t really stand out. When I told them what my current publisher’s stance on it was, they were surprised because they usually keep the author’s titles and rarely change them.

    So how important is a title to you when people submit? Or is it something you don’t pay much attention to because it can and will be changed at any time?

  7. Dana Y. T. Lin said:

    The first thing I do everytime with a new title is google and do an Amazon search. Mine didn’t show up anywhere – don’t know if that’s a good thing, or I just have a boring title.

    But if you run into Miss Snark in NY – say hello!

  8. Termagant 2 said:

    I don’t know why–I love coming up with titles. I googled my first published book, and had no hits except nonfiction, so I guess that’s good (g).

    I judge in contests once in awhile, and it always makes me laugh when I invariably get a MS entitled SECOND CHANCES. Very, very popular!

    T2, soon to be author of a book called THE CHRISTIAN VIRGIN COWBOY’S SECRET BABY, to be peddled to Harlequin…

  9. NL Gassert said:

    When I started writing THE PROTECTOR, there was only one book with the same title on amazon. The last time I looked, there were four of them. Since none of the books are in my genre and won’t likely be on the same shelf, I am not worried.

  10. Patrice Michelle said:

    Okay, Googled my current WIP’s title! Whew, no one else has, that I could find. *g* Thanks for the tip!

    I love coming up with titles since I try my best to incorporate them into the story as much as possible.

  11. Cheryl Mills said:

    Another good idea is to google your character names. I recently changed a name in my current WIP because someone asked, “Hey, wasn’t that the guy who played in the Mission Impossible series?”

    Duh. After I couldn’t get the theme song out of my head, I decided it was best to change it.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I auditioned for a student film once, where the main character’s name was Samantha Stevens.
    The director/writer guy had never ever heard of Bewitched

  13. Julie said:

    Cool…both of the titles I’m considering appear to be unique, yet still short, sweet, and to the point. Now, if I could just hurry up and finish the manuscript before someone else scoops me! 😀

  14. anna louise said:

    I can’t wait to see you!

    The two repeat titles I always get are Whispers in the Dark and Unholy Communion — over and over and over again.

  15. Penny Dawn said:

    I wish I’d thought to google my current title. *Measuring Up* is wildly popular in business how-to. My book is contemporary romance, so there’s no mistaking it for another, but the common title still puts me further down the list on And as we all know, it’s better to be at the top.

  16. doc-t said:

    “off-putting” ???

    Hey! THAT might be a great title… now, if i can just think of a story to go with it.

  17. Cyclus said:

    I love coming up with titles, but convincing authors to use them is another story. One of my author friends, who worked for me at the time, wrote an excellent small nonfiction book about 20 or so children caught in a stranded schoolbus during a blizzard on the Colorado plains in the early 1930s. Six of them froze to death on the bus.

    The story she wrote was very spare, very moving. I came up with the title THE SNOW BUS, but she thought it too harsh, especially since she had talked at length with several elderly women who survived the tragedy. She chose a softer title, one not very original, and I think it showed in book sales. But she had her reasons.

  18. Paula Reed said:

    I’m not sure that Bent Over the Poop Deck is much worse than Into His Arms. It’s more amusing, at least. I hate writing titles almost as much as I hate writing first chapters!

  19. kzorro said:

    Play the alphabet game…Pirate’s Apple, Pirate’s Booty, Pirate’s Cradle…
    Or the opposites game…Pirate’s Guilt, Pirate’s Gift, Pirate’s Safe…

  20. Gerald M. Weinberg said:

    Some years ago, my McGraw-Hill editor insisted on changing the title of one of my non-fiction books. It was a sequel to a best-selling book, but the new title made it seem to be a new edition of that book. Sales of Book One plummeted the moment Book Two came out.

    Publishers don’t know a heck of a lot more about titles than we poor authors do. In fact, nobody does—and anyone who claims to know thereby disqualifies themself as an expert.

  21. fruitcakewriter said:

    Bent over laughing about “Bent Over the Poop Deck.”

    I have a friend who writes for Harlequin Blaze and Love Inspired. She’s come up with a new line: Lust Inspired.