Choosing a title

You will occasionally hear authors struggle with picking a title. Newer writers in particular agonize over it. Kevin J. Anderson once told me that he was working with a Chinese game company. They were looking to name a big Game of Thrones type dynastic game. He wanted to call it END OF EMPIRES, but they said it was unlucky to start a title with a negative word (like End or Fall). Now, there are countless possible cultural implications in various phrasings. If you ever get to the point where that becomes a serious concern, well, let’s just say that’s a good problem to have. Still, there are a lot of factors to take into account. The first is how common a title is. In this area, I made a huge mistake with my first boo, Delphi. Delphi is a historical site. It’s a mythological site. It’s a programming language. It’s a publisher of public domain works. There are a couple of other things too. Look at this.

As of the time I’m writing this, my book could be found on page 10. Think about that. It’s on page 10 if you search for it by title. That’s horrible.

Does your title have a connection with something else? This can be either good or bad. I’m currently working on the second book of the Pharim War. For the longest time, it was titled Shadespeaker. As I started posting about it, this happened.


I laughed about it and made a joke about how I would add one in. Then more people started commenting about the same thing. Then even more. Frankly, it’s not an association I wanted to make. It didn’t fit stylistically with what I was going for.

The next thing I considered is how a title fits in with a series. The first book deals with an order of divine beings who stands watch over demons who are bound. They guard the shadows so: Shadowguard. The rest of the series follows a similar theme. Shadespeaker. Beastwalker. Lightgiver. Mysteryshroud. Lifebringer. Darkhunter. The second book deals with an order specialiazing in illusion, law, and politics. Things that deal with lies. They are also the order that traditionally watcher over kings. They work from behind the scenes. The ideal title would be Shadowspeaker. Those who speak from the shadows. The problem is the title of the first book. I didn’t want to have Shadowguard followed by Shadowspeaker. That would make it seem like I was doing some sort of Shadow series. In the end, I settled on Veilspeaker for those who speak from behind the veil.

There are a couple of other things to consider. Your title should evoke your genre. When someone hears your title, they should be able to make a pretty good guess what genre it is. Even more important, when someone hears your title, they should not be absolutely sure it’s a different genre. So those are just a couple of things you should consider when choosing a title.

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