Any Help With a Book Title?

The title of my book isn’t working, but I’m stumped a little on what will work. I know it’s important. I want it to grab the potential reader, give them some idea of what they’re getting, but not give away too much. So, it needs to be short and catchy.

photo-20I’ve heard it called the “business card” of the book, and that’s probably true. I know I’ve picked up thousands of books in libraries and bookstores over the years, and now, click on books on Amazon just because I like the title.

One writer’s blog suggests write some keywords from the book and action verbs on small pieces of paper, and draw them out of a hat to come up with great combinations. Another suggests making a list of twenty titles from books you like in the genre you’re writing, brainstorm using important words from your book and come up with similar titles to try to find a combination you like, and then see if it would fit in the list of the twenty book titles you found without being to similar. I’m working on that.

I know, ultimately, a publisher will have a lot to do with the title, but I need to capture the interest of that publisher with a title that will make the best impression. If I don’t intrigue a publisher with the title, readers aren’t likely to be impressed either.

The book is tentatively titled “Arkansas 309,” which is the name of a state prison program involved in this mystery. It’s too restrictive and may not attract readers outside this area. It’s a mystery that involves a female protagonist who is a newspaper reporter with family and career problems, who’s investigating a story of police corruption and simultaneously writing about a serial killer. And, of course you’ll understand if you know me, she grew up in a cemetery.

My husband thinks I need to worry less, call it simply “309” and go on. I’m not sure. Any suggestions out there? Please?


12 thoughts on “Any Help With a Book Title?

  1. I’ve found that coming up with a good title benefits from reading the novel. There’s often a phrase or image that stands out, and will grab potential readers. Or you could tell the story to someone who is in a semi-trance state and see if something good pops up. Or ask before you go to sleep and see if your dreams point you to one. Or browse a bookstore and see if anything sets off an idea.


  2. I don’t think you should put Arkansas or 309 in the title, neither catch me. It needs to be something simple and interesting, like Too Close to Death… since she lives in the cemetery and is writing about a killer. I’ll keep thinking.


  3. If you’re targeting a male audience, I suggest “How to Judge Bikini Contests.” I realize it has nothing to do with your story, but they’ll grab the book and pay for it before they even know it’s a crime drama.
    Seriously though, your protagonist is as persistent as a Bloodhound, and for this genre having the word Blood somewhere in the title always attracts a certain crowd with morbid curiosity.


    • LOL! I may have to write something about the bikini contests!
      But good suggestion on the word “Blood.” I’ve got a good list going and will decide soon. I’ll let you know. Thanks Russell!


    • Great idea! Russell suggested something about judging bikini contests, which might work as well. LOL! I’m leaning toward something along the lines of Indecent Liberties, which is more along the book’s topic but might give away too much. Not sure yet. Thanks for your interest Greg.


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