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What’s in a title?

I’ve finally managed to settle on some working titles, and another exciting development - a title for the series. I know this is a frustratingly no context type post but what do you think? What do we think of single word titles?

Tides of Stone Series

In chronological order :-

Gift
Unknowable
North
Rose
Embers
Rebirth
 

pmmg

Vala
Meaning the first book would be gift and the second unknowable?

I am more brought in by the Tides of Stone, but with those being the secondary titles, I think it works. Would need good cover art too ;)
 
Meaning the first book would be gift and the second unknowable?

I am more brought in by the Tides of Stone, but with those being the secondary titles, I think it works. Would need good cover art too ;)
Yes the first would be gift and so on. I did consider using ‘the’ before the words so :-

The Gift
The Unknowable

But then obviously I run into trouble because the rest don’t make sense in that format. They are subject to change, but they are descriptive of the theme of each book.
 
Visibility in search is always an issue, not just for single-word titles. Can't base everything around that, but it should be considered.

I worked on an SFWA Book promotion collection, kind of rating books to see which ones got in, and it was amazing how difficult some of the titles were to find on Amazon.
 

BearBear

Inkling
Aren't titles like usernames? All these are likely taken, so try:

GiftGift_7886
Unknowable_North_Rose
Embers_Rebirth_411

Seriously though you might get more sales just stealing the name of a best seller if they allow it.

50 Shades of Rose (sounds a lot like a sequel)
The Fellowship of the Rose
Jurassic Rebirth

Or like a patent just to be unique:
"A Device that Smells as Sweet by Any Name"
 
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pmmg

Vala
Aren't titles like usernames? All these are likely taken, so try:

GiftGift_7886
Unknowable_North_Rose
Embers_Rebirth_411

Seriously though you might get more sales just stealing the name of a best seller if they allow it.

50 Shades of Rose (sounds a lot like a sequel)
The Fellowship of the Rose
Jurassic Rebirth

Or like a patent just to be unique:
"A Device that Smells as Sweet by Any Name"

I suppose that would work but it cuts against my artistic integrity to use such a gimmick. I am not trying to sneak in, I want to be legitimately sought.


Visibility in search is always an issue, not just for single-word titles. Can't base everything around that, but it should be considered.

I worked on an SFWA Book promotion collection, kind of rating books to see which ones got in, and it was amazing how difficult some of the titles were to find on Amazon.

And everything about the industry looks impossible. My effort is just a drop in the ocean. How to break out of that? I dont know, but I am eager to dive in.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Just tossing in my two cents: it is very hard to make "The Blank of the Blank," work well. As titles go, they're very much on the nose, which for me is a sign I'm about to start a bad series and now I have reader's regret even before I start. Also, on-the-nose titles can be spoilery, and our job is to keep the reader guessing.

I'm also super picky about titles.

Your titles should emerge as you revise, and the underlying themes will become more apparent. Titles such as "The Great Big McGuffin" leave little to the imagination, and titles such as "Race for McGuffin Mountain" are worse. Don't be that author. Really delve into your own psyche, your own motivations, and your own soul, and your title will be there, waiting for you.
 
Depending on the TA, keeping them guessing may not be the writer's job. The Blank of the Blank, The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Flies, The Name of the Rose, The Name of the Wind... total failures, heh heh. If the title of a book is so on the nose to destroy it, it probably isn't the title's problem. Just sayin'. I've seen plenty of great titles that are crap. The better job of a title is to be memorable while working in conjunction with the cover to present the genre and maybe tone of the book. While also being relevant to the story.

Just tossing in my two cents: it is very hard to make "The Blank of the Blank," work well. As titles go, they're very much on the nose, which for me is a sign I'm about to start a bad series and now I have reader's regret even before I start. Also, on-the-nose titles can be spoilery, and our job is to keep the reader guessing.

I'm also super picky about titles.

Your titles should emerge as you revise, and the underlying themes will become more apparent. Titles such as "The Great Big McGuffin" leave little to the imagination, and titles such as "Race for McGuffin Mountain" are worse. Don't be that author. Really delve into your own psyche, your own motivations, and your own soul, and your title will be there, waiting for you.
 
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pmmg

Vala
Already used that one ;)

Well... I am not there with AEL, it may work out the way she has suggested, but other methods are also effective. The blank of blank has been successful for many. I'd not simply discard it. Just something in the tool box I may choose to pick over.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
I can see that a lot of people are content with simpler titles, which is fine. You do you. It's just my personal opinion that a title should work harder than The Black Dagger or some such. To give an example, one of my all-time favorite titles belongs to a short story by Tanya Huff, called "Symbols are a Percussion Instrument." It's basically about the Tarot trying very hard to make a point, and it's hilarious. "Nights of the Round Table" is another one, about the cleaning ladies of Camelot giving out life advice. It's simply my personal, artistic belief that a title needs to bring it. It needs to be descriptive, but it also needs to be more. It needs to give some insight into the themes of the story, to be our first window into this world.

It's also your first selling point, so keep that in mind.

On the other hand, I'm currently working on a short piece about a faerie knight fleeing attackers while stoned off his bare butt on pixie dust. It's going to be called "Ignominious Circumstances," a call-back to our first book. So, take my advice with a grain of aforementioned pixie dust. ;)
 

pmmg

Vala
I think you discount the work 'the black dagger' might do on a book where that title is appropriate.

Certainly true you can be more clever with a title, and string together some words that have a different aim. Nothing wrong with going a different way.

The OP'er has not indicated they will use a title in that pattern so... I doubt they will end up with 'the ____ of ____'.

Success is a multifaceted thing. It is best to get all the pieces working together as much as one can. But sometimes, what is right is right, and if its a familiar pattern, so be it.

I thought 'the wrinkle in time' was a neat title, I hated that book.
 
I’ve finally managed to settle on some working titles, and another exciting development - a title for the series. I know this is a frustratingly no context type post but what do you think? What do we think of single word titles?

Tides of Stone Series

In chronological order :-

Gift
Unknowable
North
Rose
Embers
Rebirth

Series title: The Gift of the Unknowable Northern Rose

Book One: Embers and Rebirth.

I do not believe those one-word titles from the opening post, as one-word titles, would work for me. If the book cover art was interesting, and if I'd already run across some highly positive reviews of the series (or alternatively, if I was already well-entrenched in reading everything the author put out), then I might give them a shot. But in these cases, I'm depending on something outside the title, in addition to the title, to do the heavy lifting.

But look at my little experiment combining them.

For me, a poetry is involved. As Emerson said,

The reason we set so high a value on any poetry,—as often on a line or a phrase as on a poem,—is that it is a new work of Nature, as a man is. It must be as new as foam and as old as the rock.

I think the oldness springs from two things. However unusual the phrasing, something almost primordial is triggered in us. This, in turn, can make the line feel as if it is actually ancient and not something newly minted. We recognize it or at least what it seems to imply, like meeting an old friend by accident twenty years after our last parting.

But the chance encounter is new, a surprise: "as new as foam."

The Gift of the Unknowable Northern Rose is new, and odd. All those words are old, but their chance co-incidence is new. So I'm wondering what sort of primordial reality I'm not quite seeing yet. I might be very inclined to find out—by reading the series.

Embers and Rebirth is, for me, verging on the cliche. Well, it is old, like the promise of an old friend. In context, as the first in a series of books under the other title, I might be perfectly fine discovering what this oldness entails. I mean, the specifics.

But simply the one-word titles suggested in the opening post? Meh. They are just old stones. Maybe in combination with other things, some new foam might appear.

RE: those titles in the form of 'the ____ of ____'....Well, that form is something like an old friend to me. It's a kind of trope, right? Demesnedenoir has already given some examples of classics. Maybe it's not altogether genre-specific. The Hound of the Baskervilles, for example, or The Age of Innocence, The Call of the Wild, The Count of Monte Cristo. I can still be curious, depending on the particular choices, although I don't absolutely need something as unusual as The Gift of the Unknowable Northern Rose.
 
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Food for thought all thanks for the input so far - seems I may need to reconsider the one word titles, but I don’t have my heart set on them so that’s ok. I still would like to have them sounding cohesive however so would want them all to follow at least a similar format.

After thinking about well known book titles that are from elaborate to one word, they’re all different.

Some weird ones:

Flowers for Algernon
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

But they are few and far between

To the iconic:

The Handmaids Tale
Lord of the Rings
Catch 22
The Great Gatsby
Wuthering Heights

To one word titles:

Rebecca
Dracula
Emma
1984 (numerical but still)
Hamlet
Othello
Misery
Middlemarch

Which are all stand alone works rather than series.

Recent fantasy that has done well:

Lore
Circe
Verity
Cinder
Fairest

It would seem that series do not usually use single word titles, but they do exist, but it would appear that as some of you have pointed out - they need to be like, really good, and probs really good marketing to boot.
 
I’d probably add that the choosing the title name for the first book feels more important than the rest because it should set the overall tone, and that’s the title I’m least happy with so far, and it feels like a lots of pressure to choose a good title for!
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Tides of Stone
OK, the series title contains a paradox and that's fine. It definitely indicates the genre and that's a good thing. What jumped out at me is that the individual book titles don't seem to carry that theme forward. None of them are stone or water related, which left me scratching my head a little, which is not a good thing.

Titles are a bugaboo, right along with character and place names. Nothing fits until one does, and there's really no formula for getting there. My own series has little consistency in titles, but I stitch them together with a sub-title. So, it's Title Whatever, A Trouvères Adventure. Every title has that reference to the Trouvères.

You might look for ways to have the individual titles recapitulate the Tides of Stone in some way.
 
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