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How do you choose a title for your novel?

February 27, 2012

Do book titles matter?

I guess the short answer is, of course they do. But how much?

I’ve been trying to come up with a new one for my latest ‘baby’, which is a longer mainstream romantic novel. It’s a sexy rom com about how the past shapes you and whether you should escape it – or embrace it.

At the moment, it’s called Miranda which started out as a working title and stuck, but I know it needs a new name if it’s ever going to be launched out into the world.

But how do you choose something that captures the theme of the book, is catchy, witty, romantic – and appeals widely but isn’t too bland?

Do I go for a title that sums up the theme (wanting to change or stay the same/running away from your past)? Or riff on the setting (the sea, castles, heritage)? Or should it be funny and quirky (Miranda Pulls It Off, maybe?) Or universal (love/relationships/family)?

Three of my books had titles from the get-go: Just Say Yes, Fever Cure and It Should Have Been Me. Decent Exposure took a year to invent and Wish You Were Here was suggested by my publisher. Then, of course, my US publisher changed some of those titles.

But Miranda needs a name.

I did have a very funny quirky book title pic posted below but the blog is being naughty. Anyway it was called THIS.

Cat book

Posted by Phillipa @ 4:54 am | Leave a Comment


  1. Jo Carroll Says:

    You picture (if that’s what it is) didn’t show on my computer.

    I brainstormed my book title at my writing group. We all got very heated – it’s interesting how titles arouse such strong feelings. But I’m pleased with the end result (Over the Hill and Far Away – I went travelling when most people are worrying about their knees).

  2. ChrisCross53 Says:

    It’s obviously worse than writing headlines!

  3. Rachel Lyndhurst Says:

    Ha! Love that pic, just my sort of thing. I think you have to be brutal and get your marketing head on – give the publisher a head start on how they’re going to shelve and sell your book. Miranda’s a great name to include in the title IMO, because of the association with another certain Miranda – who is VERY funny. Miranda Pulls It Off would look great.I’d pick it up. :0) xx

  4. Phillipa Says:

    I named the heroine after The Miranda – the character’s nothing like her but I love Miranda Hart and the name.. and also serendipitously, there’s a touch of The Tempest about the book.

  5. Phillipa Says:

    Someone has suggested Miranda’s Last Stand – because she has a battle on her hands to save what she believes in from developers – and the hero!

  6. Liz Fenwick Says:

    Love your pic!

    Tough one…I always begin with a title. I like Miranda pulls it off 🙂

    Good luck

  7. Chanpreet Says:

    To be honest, the title or cover of a book is of the least importance to me. I am attracted more by the blurb on the back of the book or by who has written the book.

    Miranda Pulls It Off definitely sounds like a great title. It sounds very rom-com. Beyond that just go with your gut feeling and if in doubt listen to what your publisher has to say. But I am super excited to know there’s a new book on the way! 🙂

  8. agenoria Says:

    I always read the blurb, but when I’m in the library, and all I can see is the spines, it’s the title I go for. I started reading Elizabeth Buchan because of “Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman” and recently borrowed “Remind Me Again Why I Need a Man” by Claudia Carroll.

    One of my favourite books is inspired by “The Tempest” – “This Rough Magic” by Mary Stewart.

    BTW I think “Trimalchio in West Egg” (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original title) doesn’t have the same ring as “The Great Gatsby”!

  9. Rosy Thornton Says:

    I always think if it as Miranda’s Mount – which sounds vaguely saucy! But I do like the idea of Miranda’s Last Stand.

    LOL at the Pussy book!!


  10. Phillipa Says:

    Thanks for all the ideas – It’s fascinating to hear all the different pespectives and I’ll definitely be brainstorming with a few writer friends who know the book and hopefully, with a publisher.

    Miranda’s Last Stand works well as the book is a bit of a romp, and she has a battle on her hands -my only worry is that the title’s not overtly romantic? Maybe that’s a good thing?

    Agenoria – This Rough Magic is a great title. It just sounds intriguing.

    Rosy – hellooo (waves)

  11. Phillipa Says:

    Chanpreet – readers’ views are probably the *most* important. Do you think Miranda’s Last Stand is too rom com.It is definitely a rom com – I loved writing it, probably more than any of my others – but it also has darker undercurrents.

  12. Stevie Carroll Says:

    Titles are tough. Some of my short stories have very descriptive titles, but they fit with the title of the whole collection, so I think I’ll get away with it.

  13. agenoria Says:

    There is a Miranda in “This Rough Magic” because of the Tempest theme, but she’s not the heroine. The hero, Max Gale is rather nice, particularly after helping to rescue a dolphin. 😉

  14. Chanpreet Says:

    Miranda’s Last Stand if definitely not too rom-com. I think it works perfectly with hinting at darker under currents as well as comedy. It sounds like it’s a good fit.

  15. Phillipa Says:

    Stevie – I found choosing a title for my short stories, very tricky, even harder than a novel.

    Agenoria – the name Max Gale sounds like a superhero, which is probably apt?

    Chanpreet – I think MLS is top of the list now, then!

  16. agenoria Says:

    I hadn’t thought of Max Gale in terms of weather forecasts! He writes music as well as rescuing dolphins whilst on holiday in Corfu. I could say more but for possible spoilers…

    A couple of days ago I borrowed a book called “Miranda” from the library, but I’m not sure about saying much more because I’m finding the writing a bit stilted. I doubt I would have taken much notice if I hadn’t been curious after reading your blog. So yes, “Miranda… ”

    My son wanted a book by Jeremy Strong. So yesterday I phoned our local Waterstones and asked if they had a copy of “Batpants and the Vanishing Elephant”!

  17. Phillipa Says:

    Batpants and the Vanishing Elephant? Now *that* is a title!

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