Sunday, 5 January 2014

Killer Titles Make Best sellers?

Titles and names of characters have always been the bane of my life. In most areas of my life I find decision making relatively easy but names and titles kill me! I find it almost impossible and when I think I have decided on a title I have second thoughts and start contemplating more names and using even more precious time ruminating about them.

Why this should be such a problem I don’t know – except I am aware that the title and names are so very important for reaching out to Agents, Editors and finally readers. Whenever I choose a thriller, I am first attracted to the title and then the back cover blurb before I decide whether to read it or not. Simple really…

If a title (and maybe the jacket design) seems hard-hitting and/or brash and attention grabbing I will, at least, read the back of the book. I think the best thriller titles are short one or two word ‘headline grabbing’ sensations. Titles such as ‘Armageddon’, ‘Intensity’, ‘Velocity’ and ‘Vampire’ suggest an intensity of suspenseful action that you would find in most good thrillers whilst ‘Blossom hill’ ‘Five Days in Paris’ and ‘The Price of Love’ suggest quite a different read.

The Shortest title award and the most curious (until I read it) goes to ‘It’ by Stephen King.

So what kind of title attracts you?

And may I also wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!!


  1. Have the same problem, too, Pat. We all struggle with this. Have a good response to 'Snakeskin and Failed Feathers' for my next book, so shall stick with it, I think. Good luck with your choices!

  2. I've been dipping into ancient literature lately, specifically, the plays of Aeschylus. "Prometheus Bound" is an amazing title. It tells you the main character, the inciting incident, and evokes a ton of questions. Wow.

    In more modern fare, the trend of using past tense, passive voice nouns as titles is a turn off for me: Bound, Bitten, Torn, Fractured, etc., etc. It nicely identifies a central conflict but implies that whoever this is happening to is a victim somehow before things even get underway.

    I guess I like titles that offer a mystery: The Croning (Laird Barron) is a good recent title. The Man in The High Castle (Philip K. Dick), which I'm reading right now, a wonderful title. Figuring out who that is and what it means in the context of the story has been a fun adventure.

  3. Pat, I can understand your dilemma. It's funny I kept the same working title "Not Dead Yet" for my current thriller for several years and then just before I started sending queries to try and attract an agent I changed the title to "Vengeance". I like the second better because it sums up the them of this book better. I'd decided against the first because of the famous Monty Python line, then a few days back I was looking at something on Linkedin and I came across Peter James. So I go to Amazon and look at his novels and there I see the title Not Dead Yet. Seems like we writers doubt so many parts of our writing, titles, character names, etc. I wonder in the end if any of this is as big of a thing as we make it out to be.