How to choose a title for your book

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For your interest… Weirdest Book Titles

Even though I am a designer, I often find myself brainstorming titles for our books at Cedar Fort Publishing. My team (two editors, and acquisitions editor, and two designers) likes to work together. And we like each other. (Also this staves off boredom)

Here is EVERYTHING you need to know about titling a book that will go to press and influence millions of readers.*

  1. Begin with a list of suggestions given by other people familiar with the book (In our case these are usually the suggestions of the author. Some of these will be amazing. And sometimes they are reiterations of the exact same three words but in different combinations. Making us ask ourselves “Is Abraham Lincoln:The Story Behind the Man better than The Story Behind the Man: Abraham Lincoln?”)
  2. Decide all these suggestions are terrible and venture out on your own.
  3. Read selected pages of manuscript(mns.) looking for clues that might lead you to a gripping title. (Decide that Mr. Sheep Needs Time to Sleep may sound amazing, but is totally out of context for the title of a children’s book mostly about things you like to do with your dad.)
  4. Begin looking for alliterative title options (This is where the process begins to go downhill fast. The more obscure old english you need to delve into in order to get that perfect alliterative word, the better. Ex. The Besmirched Bishop)
  5. Take words at random from the mns. and combine them.
  6. Make those combinations into alliterative titles. You may also try forced rhymes.
  7. Make a list of all these titles and bring them to the production meeting. Allow the board of directors to enjoy them.
  8. All the titles are rejected. (Why?! They were so good!!)
  9. Do steps 1-7 between one and seventy more times. (This depends on how close the book is to it’s release date. Sales likes to have lists of books with their titles and covers designed around 6 months if not earlier before the release date so that the buyers at bookstores can look the books over and choose the ones they like. If the book desperately needs to be on sales sheets then repeat steps 1-7 but with a billion more stress feelings.)
  10. Decide that one of the author’s suggestions would actually be perfect!
  11. With a few tweaks…. repeat process from step 1.

*Names and specifics are changed so that I don’t lose my job/reveal industry secrets to the competitors

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