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Tips for Titling Your Novel

your-title-hereAna Howard

If you’re lucky, the perfect title for your novel sprang into your head without effort. But most of the time, it’s a painstaking process to come up with a good title, especially one that is catchy, humorous or intriguing and has not been used by many other authors before. As I’m going through this process myself, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve gathered from the Internet and from my experience.

  1. Start by making lists of nouns, verbs and adjectives that relate to your book and say something about it. Then get more specific and list times, places and emotions. Brainstorm using your lists and shuffle the words around. You will probably come up with a few good possibilities.
  2. At this point don’t censor yourself. Put down anything and everything. Even a bad title might spark an idea for a better one.  Avoid clichés and tired old sayings. Think of a fresh way to convey what your book is about.
  3. Once you have a list of possible titles, go online and check if they’ve been used by Googling them and also looking on Amazon.  This has an added benefit in that, while doing this, you might see something that triggers an idea for you.
  4. Ask for input. Test your titles on family, friends and other authors. This can be tricky, because in my experience, tastes in book titles are just as varied as tastes in books. But it can still be helpful, and sometimes even non-author friends will come up with something to enhance what you have or propose an alternative.
  5. If you’re still lost, there are several title generators you can find online by Googling “book title generator.”   Surprisingly, some of them come up with what I feel are compelling titles. A lot of it is rather weird, too, but it does get you thinking.
  6. Last but not least, put your lists away for a few days and come back to them later. A day off and a good night’s sleep will give you a new perspective and focus. You’ll probably cross off some titles and add more until you find what feels best.

About the Author


ANA HOWARD specializes in fiction and, as the author of eight published novels, offers a unique editorial perspective. Her books include contemporary and historical children’s, young adult, and adult literature. She has worked with both small independent publishers such as Roberts Rinehart and Brown Barn Books, and with large publishing houses such as Penguin Putnam and American Girl. She has seen one of her novels made into film and has won numerous literary awards.


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