According to Gertrude Stein a rose is a rose is a
rose. Then again, some roses might be more perfectly formed than others. I
believe a well-chosen title helps sell a writer’s work. The first impression a
book or story creates depends on several factors, one of them being the title.
The title will set a certain tone or expectation. Whether an author writes
literary work, genre fiction, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, etc., the
title should fit the work. If it’s not appropriate, the reader may rightfully
feel cheated and misled.
I have a few suggestions for fellow writers that I
believe might prove useful:
First suggestion is to do some initial research.
For instance, visit Amazon and Google. Check out titles for the kind of work
you’re writing to get a sense of what is appropriate.
Second suggestion, go to World Cataloging and type
in your title under the keyword heading. See what pops up. If your title is
used by many authors many times, you might want to try for something different.
Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun; however, you can
do some variations that are unique. Also, keep in mind that titles are not
copyrighted unless there’s a trade mark involved. You can, in fact, have the same
title as another author, although if possible, it’s best to distinguish it in
Next suggestion: consider if the chosen title can
properly characterizes a theme of your book, story, poem, article via your word
choice. Maybe it represents a reoccurring symbol in your book.
Another suggestion: keep your title short if
possible. Modern titles are generally brief unless you’re writing an academic
dissertation. Otherwise, a few words will suffice.
Last suggestion: Try for a clever use of words which
will make your title in some way memorable, interesting, intriguing, and/or
provoke curiosity. A whimsical bit of rhyming hopefully also makes a title
December 1st is the publication date of
my new historical romance SINFUL SEDUCTION which has a pre-publication sale. I
began with the title THE DEMON LOVER. An editor who read the novel did not like
that title for the novel and suggested I rethink it. Although I didn’t contract
with her publishing house, I did take the advice to heart and rethink the
title. In many ways, my new title fits the novel much better. Kate Miles, my
editor at Luminosity, greatly liked both the book and the title which is
Take a few moments if you will and look at the
novel. See if you think the title suits the book. Your input much appreciated.
Are there any titles that stand out for you? If so,
which ones? Why? Comments welcome!
readers and writers. My current interview is with fellow author Joe Prentis. Joe is the author of over 70 short stories and
What is the title and genre of your most recent novel? Why did you select them?
The book I am promoting right now is ‘FORGOTTEN,’ a Young Adult Romance novel
that also contains an element of mystery. I am a multi-genre writer who writes
Mysteries, Westerns, Romance, and Suspense novels. I often deviate from the
traditional concept of what the reader expects in each of these genres, but I
think it makes a more vibrant, exciting story.
What inspired this novel? How did it come about?
The company where I worked hired seventy college students during the summer
months. Most of the ones I worked with were young women, and there was a
commonality between them. They wanted to be understood, to succeed, and they
wanted to be loved. A surprising number of them didn’t feel as if they were
loved, even the ones from supportive, loving families. From talking with them,
I learned that love is an elusive thing, hard to grasp, even harder to
understand. I wanted to write a novel that involved the hopes, fears, and the
uncertainty of coming of age in our society.
Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of your novel.
People often ask me, “Am I in your novel?” Or they might say, “That guy in your
book that worked at the service station reminds me of a man I once dated. You
know the one I’m talking about.” I have never put any person I know in a book
because there are too many characters nagging for me to let them tell their
story. Amber, the heroine of Forgotten, is like so many people I know. She is
ambitious, talented, but lonely at times, and wants her father and friends to
love her. At times she feels slighted and will flee from a relationship before
she gets hurt more than she already has. I think there is a truth that many
authors miss in writing a novel. Everyone loves something or someone. Even a
villain has some redeeming qualities. It can make them seem more real, or as in
Silence of the Lambs, it can scare the living daylights out of the reader.
Can you tell us something about you other published novels or work?
My most successful novel is Abraham’s Bones and the sequel, The Relic. These
novels allowed me to combine several areas of interest into these two novels. I
also like to write Westerns. I don’t write the traditional Western where the
main focus is people shooting at each other. I like stories that reflect real
life and all of the emotions involved. My Western novels are more like John
Jakes or Bernard Cornwell.
What are you working on now?
Actually, I am working on two different books. I wrote Abraham’s Bones several
years ago. It was a huge success for an e-book. It was on the bestseller list
in England for nine and one-half weeks,
moving back and forth from the number two spot to the number five position. I
sold from thirty to sixty copies of it each day. The sequel, The Relic, did
rather well and I sold thousands of copies of the two books during the next few
years. I am working on a third book in the series. It will be several months
before I complete it. The setting of both books is Israel and Washington. The story line involves the
clash of the three great religions in the Middle East. They are not religious books,
but are about religion. I am also working on another book in my Western series.
I enjoy Westerns so much that it is hard to stay away from them.
What made you start writing?
An older sister taught me to read when I was three years old. She read my
storybooks to me so many times that I had them memorized. At first, I was
following along with my finger from line to line and eventually began to
recognize individual words. Some of the books had terrible endings. Someone got
killed, or a wicked witch had kids in a cage fattening them up so she could eat
them. The Three Blind Mice was awful. I crossed out the endings of some of them
and scribbled my version in the space between the lines. I still have the first
novel I wrote, and I take it out and look at it from time to time. It was a
James Bond type thriller. I never contacted a publisher because it was awful
and I didn’t know how to make it any better. To say that I was obsessed with
literature is an understatement. I had a lot of encouragement along the way,
but also some contact with people who seemed to know nothing about the real
world. I learned that you have to be your own critic. You have to listen to
others if they seem to know what they are talking about and keep on writing.
What advice would you give to those who are currently writing novels?
There are two kinds of writers, those who want to be a writer and those who
want to write. Some beginning writers don’t understand the difficult task of
becoming published and what is required to promote a book. This is okay because
you don’t have to be number one on the New York Times Bestseller list to be successful.
Be realistic and decide what an obtainable goal for you is. Some assume that
fame and fortune will come from writing. I know a man who had a successful
small business. When he retired, he wanted to pursue writing full time. He
would write a story each week, go to Rapid Print, and have a hundred copies
made. On his way home, he would place one copy in each mailbox. He loved doing
this, and his villagers liked reading his stories. His ambition did not go
beyond this. He had no desire to be published or to be known beyond his
village. He was happy with what he was doing. The average e-book on Kindle
sells only about 40 copies. To anyone who wants to be a writer, I would suggest
that they carefully examine why they want to do it. If they are seeking fame
and fortune that extends to the far corners of the earth, it isn’t likely to
happen. Many others don’t realize how long it takes to write a novel. Abraham’s
Bones took about two thousand hours, which is roughly one year of eight hour
days. I once raced a friend trying to write a book in one month. We did so, but
it was challenging. I would also tell any would-be writer not to become fixated
on being published by the big five in New York unless there is an obsession to
do so. I write because I love every minute of it. If you have to force yourself
to the keyboard, you are only adding to your store of difficult things you
probably don’t want to do. Find your niche in the writing world so you can
enjoy every minute of what you are doing. It might be a personal essay of
interest only to your extended family, or it might be a book you will write and
rewrite until you find a publisher. Above all, remember that writing is one of
the noblest callings on earth. Enjoy yourself and others will want to read what
you have written.
the link to my Young Adult novel, Forgotten, on Amazon.
Joe welcomes your comments.
As a writer, there are times when my creativity
dries up like a parched desert. Writer’s block is something most authors
experience at one time or another. We lose our sense of purpose or inspiration.
It’s happened to me when I get discouraged collecting rejection slips—a fate
common to most writers. There are many ways to get back on track. Here are some
suggestions that have worked for me at one time or other in coping with lack of
Select a set time for writing each day. (I prefer
the early morning.) If you’re a night owl, working in the evening may be better
for you. Try to choose a time when you are least likely to suffer interruptions
Practice meditation. It both calms and stimulates mental
When you are feeling discouraged or unproductive, get
away from the computer and go for a walk. Outdoors is best. Sunshine and fresh
air are invigorating. If it’s too cold, too hot or nasty outside, use a
treadmill or drive over to a mall and walk around inside.
Visit a bookstore and browse. Buy a book you’d like
Visit a library and browse. Borrow a book that
If you’re a fiction writer, read some nonfiction:
books, magazines and newspapers, in print or online. If you’re a nonfiction
writer, pick up a novel to read. Try to read something you wouldn’t ordinary
peruse. Broaden your horizons. Reading
Communicate with other people. Talk to friends and
family. Take an interest in their lives.
Listen in on
conversations you overhear in restaurants and at gatherings.
Visit a museum. Study the displays. Take notes on
those things that interest you.
Go to an art gallery and study the paintings for
inspiration. Put yourself into an
interesting painting. Who are you? Where
are you? What are you doing?
Take a trip somewhere you’ve never been before. Get
out of your comfort zone and predictable life style. Visit a different city or
a different country. Plan a vacation. The stimulation of meeting unfamiliar
people and seeing different places can inspire new thoughts and ideas.
Finally, we come full circle. Help can be found on
the internet as well. For example, check
out this essay on the different techniques employed by successful, famous authors
to stimulate their writing: