The Name Game: 11 Tips for Titles

Guest post by Sally Jadlow

A couple recently made the news when they asked their local Starbucks to vote on the name of their child. I can empathize with them. For a self-published author, the title of your work is tantamount to naming your first-born.

Since I’ve just finished naming my eighth book, let me share some suggestions that you might find helpful.

  1. Brainstorm with a few author friends. List their suggestions. You never know what combination of words might click.
  2. Make the title reflect your work. Promise your readers what they’ll get.
  3. Use as few words as possible. You want your title to show clearly on an online thumbnail.
  4. Consider using a subtitle if a single word doesn’t cover the contents.
  5. Address your reader’s perceived need. Do they need to know how to discipline their children? Are they looking for the best fishing places in the U.S.? Do they need to decorate a room for less than $100?
  6. Does your book deal with a certain region, ethnicity, or faith? Include that in the title.
  7. If you can, include alliteration. (Words that start with the same sound.) It helps the buyer remember the title.
  8. After you’ve narrowed your choices down, write each of them on paper and stick them around your work place. Which ones roll off your tongue? Which ones get your tongue wound around your eyetooth?
  9. Try the titles on your cover. How do they fit? Do they overrun the image on the cover? Does part of the title disappear into a shady spot?
  10. Check out titles online. Are there ten titles with the name you’re considering? Is the title you like used by a porn site?
  11. When you’re down to two choices, ask your friends which they like and why. By now, one title will feel more right than the other, so go with it.

Although you probably won’t have to live with your title as long as what your named your baby, the correct title will help you be a successful author in this crazy writing business.


Sally Jadlow, author of Family Favorites from the Heartland: Recipes Sure to Please and other titles. She teaches creative writing in the Kansas City area and also serves as a chaplain to corporations. Her website is


Posted on July 16, 2013, in Blogging Authors, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Joanne Jewett

    Great ideas for naming our work. I agree with alliteration making a name easier to remember. Also, getting others to help with suggestions.

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