The Right Title

Everything is steaming along nicely with my Unbound book, I’m pleased to report. The publication date is not yet fixed but is expected to be around late July. The manuscript is now with the copyeditor to check the nitty gritty. Soon a designer will be working on the cover (the one I’ve used to illustrate the book so far, used on Authonomy, was designed by Bradley Wind). I’ve organised a ‘pre-launch party’ for June 16th at a local festival in Crouch End and have sent out invites (all welcome by the way, don’t mind if the room gets a bit squashy). All that’s left to do is to decide on the title!

My current title, Ghosts of Chechnya, was chosen years ago after much brainstorming, replacing the original title, Nikolai (the name of my Russian character). However, my editor has suggested that it may not sufficiently reflect my main character’s journey, so I’ve been musing on alternative titles and considering whether to change once again.

Do Androids Dream cover

Of course, ideally the title reflects the type of book as well as the essence of the book. Mine is a gritty, domestic noir-ish psychological thriller (think Claire Kendall’s The Book of You crossed with Gone with the Wind) so any change could be in line with that… Or not, I think now having just read the amusing piece How Not to Title A Novel on the limitations of ‘marketing department’ titles. Though the backdrop of my story comes from Chechnya, the actual setting is in London during 2005, the year of the 7/7 attacks. I’ve been considering indicating this in the title but so far nothing has jumped out at me.

For inspiration, I browsed the Best Book Titles as voted by Goodreads readers . “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is deservedly at no. 1. Some others on this list, funny/ knowing/brilliant/shamelessly OTT:

• John Dies At The End
• The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
• I Was Told There’d Be Cake
• A Clockwork Orange
• Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
• Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
• I Still Miss My Man But My Aim Is Getting Better

Love that last one 🙂

Elsewhere, wiki How to has some useful tips, preferring mysterious (but not confusing) titles for novels.

The trick is to find a happy balance between the all-too-forgettable and the truly over-the-top, Jacob Appel advises in Writers Digest, 7 tips to land the perfect title. He points out: ‘Many successful titles gain hidden layers of meaning as they’re read, so they pack an extra punch when reflected upon for the second time. Noteworthy examples include Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and John Cheever’s “The Swimmer.” ’

Two- or three-word titles are the best, suggests the blog Novel Writing Help. However, this must make originality more difficult, another nice-to-have thing. Also, one must bear in mind: ‘If a novel title works, it works, whether it sticks to the “rules” or not.’ For example:
• I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing;
• By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept;
• Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Ho hum.

My latest title ideas for my book are:

• The Waiting Game
• A Game For Three
• Between the Three of Us
• Reset
and last but not least,
• Ghosts of Chechnya

Thanks to everyone who has already communicated their thoughts on potential titles. If anyone else has a few minutes to spare, please share your views on the above options or your own experience with coming up with a title for a novel. This will go into the pot and marinate there until, hopefully, I have… The Right Title.

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