Are you killing your chances before anyone even starts reading your book?
I hinted in my post last week that you can’t really go wrong when you’re choosing book titles. Except you can. It’s not easy, but it is definitely possible to choose a lousy title for your kids’ book.
It’s all about cracking the “cover” of your book, real or virtual. Whether you’re self-publishing or sending your book around to agents or publishers, you need a title that’ll get readers onto page one, where hopefully, your story will do the work of hooking them in for good.
True, publishers may change the “working title” of a book once they decide to publish it, but you’re still going to need a name for your book that hooks them into reading the thing in the first place. So try to avoid these FIVE big mistakes.
Here are the Top Five ways writers go wrong when they’re choosing a title for their book:
- Alliterative names – Ken Kangaroo, Bim the Bum, whatever it is. There are always exceptions, but most readers and publishers are tired of alliteration unless it’s something exceptionally new and clever.
- Rhyme – don’t do this unless you’re sure you can pull it off. And absolutely not if there’s no rhyming inside the book.
- Plot giveaway - These would be titles like Ken Kangaroo Loses the Race, Myra Leans to Deal With Disappointment, or Danny Overcomes Shyness that telegraph the ending of the book, along with most of the plot.
- Just the name – generally, I’d advise against giving a book the name of your title character, unless it’s a name that has an extraordinary ring to it. Mrs. Tiggy Winkle and Pippi Longstocking are good names (both taken, however!), but Jim Smith or even Harry Potter would make pretty lousy book titles.
- Not enough plot – vague titles like Ken’s Problem, Sally’s Bad Day, or Lou, Lou, Whatcha Gonna Do? (okay, maybe not the last) don’t give us enough information about where the story’s going to go. Ken and the Pirates, Ken and the Angry Dog, and Ken’s Allergy are not fantastic titles, but they all give us more information about what we’ll find in the book itself, which is a decent start.
One bonus mistake to watch out for, though it doesn’t rank up there in the Top Five…
- TITLES WITH A MORAL
Books with names like “Grandma is in Heaven Now,” or “Learning to Love Papa’s New Wife” tell you immediately where the story’s going to go and the conclusion that they want you to draw. “Pip Learns a Lesson” is even worse – what kid wants to read about “learning a lesson”???
(Even if there IS a lesson in your book, make it a gentle one and hide it in an incredible plot, so kids actually forget they’re learning!)
Choosing your book’s title is a big step you can take right now to start marketing your book in a smart way. Take a look at other titles that are out there, on Amazon and other sites.
If you’re still perplexed, here are some other good sites for guidance…
- Choosing your book’s title (with a twist!), from Indie Book Launcher
- The truth about choosing book titles, from indie author Scott Berkun
- How to choose a children’s book title, from guru and guide Emma Walton Hamilton
- Spark your imagination to choose a better title, from Writing-World.com
- Why you should avoid dramatic one-word titles for teen books, from The Guardian
Be sure to let me know your Top Title Tips in the comments!