A title is a book's most important piece of marketing copy.
A great title gives you a taste of a book—its style and content. It lures you in because it piques your interest.
Some of my favorite titles:
Crazy Rich Asians – haven't read it yet, but I can already tell it's going to appeal to both my inner Gossip Girl addict and the culturally curious side of me. I checked it out and it has great reviews, but it's high on my TBR list mainly because the title made me look twice.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Who can't relate? And more to the point, when you're having one of those days, its a title that comes back and comforts you because no matter how bad your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day is, your ice cream part probably hasn't fallen off your cone part and landed in Australia.
Even Cowgirls Get The Blues – You know it's going to be about a tough chick who will show you her vulnerable, potentially philosophical side. And you can expect a tongue-in-cheek yet intelligent voice. Tom Robbins delivers on both counts.
I am not a titling genius. In fact, on the title intelligence scale, I think I'm somewhere deep in the lowest percentiles. But I'm lucky enough to have a publisher who is willing to (a) brainstorm with me and (b) not settle until he sees a title that jumps.
My first book was called Dead Politicians in the manuscript stage. It kind of told the tale, except the book wasn't about Winston Churchill or George Washington. It was about a secret university society that was claiming credit for the death of several local politicians. When my dad suggested Dead Politician Society, we knew it was dead right for the book.
My most recent book was called Snow Wonder You're Dead in the manuscript stage. My publisher said no. (He was right.) He suggested Mountain Snow, the name of the LSD that takes center stage in the book. I didn't like it. I asked social media for help. Friends were fabulous (Death's Cold Edge and Death Goes Downhill and several others were close) but still no click. Finally, toward the end of the copy edit stage, Death's Last Run jumped forward. We both liked it, and it has a triple meaning: last run of the day on the ski hill; one last drug run across the border; and the victim's mother is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
So yeah, titles are hard. But worth sweating.