What’s in a title?

I need help! I don’t know what to call my novel.

Actually, I’m lying again – my novel has a name, I’m just not sure that I like it.

Over the past week I have been researching book titles and how to settle on the right one and this is what I have come up with:

1. Naming your novel is as difficult as naming your children. Bad news for me here as I had absolutely no difficulty naming either of my children. So rewrite point – Naming your novel is FAR MORE DIFFICULT than naming your children.
2. Be brief but descriptive (apparently most top sellers have titles of 4 words or fewer – who knew?).
3. Ensure the title is actually related to the contents of the book (makes sense).
4. Don’t use words that are difficult to pronounce or confusing (which is where the problem with my current title arises – I will get to this in a moment).
5. When you find the right title you will know – instinctively it will just feel right. Honestly, I would say this was a load of bunk except that for my second book (an unrelated novel about a 15 yr old struggling to come to terms with her cancer diagnosis) this is exactly how I feel. I came up with the title the day I came up with the concept for the book and it is perfect, I love the title, I KNOW it is the right one (although at 6 words it does break rule 2).

So, I need a title for my book. The current title is ‘Ankhari’. I know, weird, and I will have to provide a little background for it to make sense. The Ankhari is the mythical group, decendant from the Incas, to which both of my main characters belong. The word Ankhari can be roughly translated from Quechua to English as ‘messenger of the spirits opus’. So I know, weird word, but is it good weird (Oh, I wonder what that could be about) or bad weird (I wouldn’t even bother turning the book over to browse the back cover).

Other titles that I am currently tossing around are ‘Momentum’ and ‘The Potential For Greatness’.

So, I need your help/opinions/comments/tips. If you walked in a bookshop looking for a young adult romantic-fantasy which book would you be most likely to pick up, ‘Ankhari’, ‘Momentum’ or ‘The Potential For Greatness’.

I look forward to your comments on my dilemma.

The Exasperated Novelist

(By the way the name for my second novel is ‘Kali Jacobs, Please Take a Seat’ – fabulous isn’t it!)

6 responses to “What’s in a title?

  1. I don’t know your novel so I can’t really comment on the name, but something occurred to me while reading your post; is there a name of a central thing in your novel such as a character or place name which you could use in the title. Momentum and The Potential for Greatness seem a bit too generic and not connected to what you described your novel to be. Ankhari seems to be a good name – I wouldn’t worry about how people pronounce it, as made-up words in fantasy are always pronounced differently by different readers, for instance various words from the Harry Potter series…
    Maybe if you think about what your novel’s message or moral is, or the if you summarise your story into a brief, basic sentence you may get an idea of what to call it from that. Good luck!

  2. Titles are so hard! The good thing about Ankhari is it sounds like fantasy–a cool-sounding word that we haven’t heard before that lets us know we’ll be going into a new world. Have you played around with the under-four-word concept using Ankhari as part of your brainstorming? I also like to read my novel while looking for phrases that could work for titles. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. Good luck in your quest!

      • One of my writing mentors underlines phrases he thinks might make good titles. He’s brilliant at that–and that’s where I got the idea. It works well for short stories too. Good luck!

  3. I have loved reading your blog thus far Jody! “Momentum” has kind of stuck in my head, but I also like your first pick. I do agree though it’s a hard name to say. Have you tried “Messenger of the Spirts”? Whatever you pick it will be great!

  4. I am really enjoying the blog so far, and based on your suggestion, I decided to leave a comment regarding the naming of your book. I am an avid reader of predominately fiction novels, and will quite often pick up a book based on the title and my initial thoughts of what I think the book is about, based on that title.
    I don’t like “The Potential For Greatness”, I think it sounds like a self-help book. I wouldn’t pick that one up if I was in a book store.
    Momentum is good – one word – straight to the point – provided there is going to be some form of relevance to the book, kind of like Dean Koontz’s “Velocity”.
    However, if you are planning on making the books a series – have you contemplated what you would then name the remaining books? For this reason – I actually think Ankari is the better option of the ones listed in your Blog. But what about Ankari: Momentum for the first book, or Rise of the Ankari, or Ankari: Messenger of the Spirits, or Ankari: Awakening, etc. You could continue the use of Ankari for the remaining books, and still find a way to incorporate the particular theme from each novel.
    Just a thought……..

    Keep the blog coming!!!

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