Thursday 16 August 2012

Are There Any Original Titles Left?

I'm currently doing final edits on my novel Underlife, which will be out in a couple of weeks, and then after that I'll be writing the final couple of chapters and starting edits for the fourth Serenity book, Dominion. But I've always been one to plan ahead!

I have a new series planned--a paranormal series based around spirit guides and the ability of their humans to shift into the shape of their animal. The series title will be 'The Spirit Shifters' (this met with polar responses when I first put it out there, but it fits the series best), but I'm struggling with a title for the first book.

I'm planning on writing this novel during NaNoWriMo. Because 50K in a month isn't much of a challenge to me (I write full time now and so producing 2K a day should be fairly easy if I've set my mind on something) I've decided to set myself the rough draft of the full novel (about 70K) as my NaNo goal.

I love writing, but I also like to write knowing what my book is as a whole. I'm not a huge plotter, but because I want to write this book as a series, I've found myself plotting more than normal. Of course this is not my first series. However, when I wrote Alone, it was only at the suggestion of my then publisher that I wrote book two. Book two ended in such a way that it was impossible not to write book three... and so the story continues.

This novel, however, will be a series, and I want to learn from mistakes I've made from NOT planning the Serenity series--such as certain 'world building facts' that have made certain plot lines difficult to work out. I'd like to put this planning into good use by also planning ahead to link the covers and the book titles.

The main reason for this post is that I'm struggling for a title for the first book, which ultimately makes it impossible for me to plan for any future books as well. It's not that I haven't thought of one--believe me, I have! Several in fact! But none of these titles are original and, even worse, some belong to series novels already.

So what do you think? Does a title need to be completely original, or is it okay if a couple of other books are named the same?


  1. I personally like "original" titles because it helps with recognition and differentiation. When the title sounds the same or too similar I would often mistake it for the other and lose track of the next book in the series.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Braine! Do you mean if all the titles in a series sound the same then you start to lose track - like the Sookie books all have 'dead' in the title? or just that if the books sound like a different series then you start to lose track?

  2. Hi, M. Still busy as always, huh? I would hope to shoot for an original title, but as you rightly point out, it seems to get harder and harder to do that. If the title has been used before, but not to much success, then go for it. I wish you good luck with whatever you decide.
    I hated the title of my first book and thought for years that I would change it eventually. Well, eventually I found that it was the only title which seemed to fit and could never see changing it.
    Take care, my friend.


    1. Thanks for stopping by Jimmy! How strange that you didn't like your title at first. I always thought it was a great title! I'd also like to strive for individuality, but I'll just have to pick a working title before I start so I'll have a name to think of the book by!

  3. Titles are important, we all know. So I can understand you stressing about this. I didn't realize that I had set my series with the common word "vampire" in all my titles until I tried to come up with the third book, and then I realized that All I needed was to come up with one word that best described it, and I suddenly had it.

    Sometimes the working title is fine, and then after you've written it you see something within the mss that has you saying "YES!"

    Good luck with your NaNo writing to come, Marissa!

  4. I finally settled on "Gathering Darkness" for my recent book after about a dozen rejected ideas. "Great, I thought...title's done."

    ... There are 3 other books by that name, and I was "tweeted" at that one more is coming out this year. Boo.

    More important than originality, I think, is that your title fit your story, and give the reader an impression of what they are going to get. Especially given the trend of single-word titles, eventually there's going to be some overlap.

    Example: Think of "Justice", now picture that on the cover of a Crime book, then on the cover of a Western, then on a Harlequin Romance, it all works.

    There's a line though... otherwise my next book would be called "The Bible". j/k :)

    Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

  5. I personally would prefer more original titles. I think a book is much harder to find for purchase or even just to look into with a common name. For example I have looked into a book and could not find it anywhere having found six or more with the same title and unless the person/reader is really really already interested they will give up and there goes a sale (personal experience speaking here). You are awesome and I know with you will find just the perfect name, perhaps with help from beta readers or editors assistance who are a little further removed from the story itself. Your work does not deserve to be passed over because there is another with the same title :)