What role does a title play in the overall feel of a book? Does it pull at your heart-strings, begging you to pick it up or is the cover more important as a draw?
Since I am now in the position of weighing my options in regard to changing my title (or clinging to it with both hands), I’ve given the whole process quite a bit of thought.
There are a good amount of book titles out there that have little or no relevance to story content. Good books. Books that I’m sure had original titles, titles that fit and worked, only to be changed in order to draw more readers.
In the YA fantasy/paranormal genre they seem more prevalent. So here’s the question: Should the title represent the story? Or should the aim of a title be to draw more readers regardless of its relevance to the book?
Example: Twilight. Stephenie Meyer intended the first book of this series to be titled FORKS. It represented the town obviously, but it also represented where Bella was in her life. Stuck at various cross-roads, trying to do the right thing, make the right decisions. Put aside the fact the we are all comfortable, and there for biased to the Twilight title, and ask yourself if it really works. Does it have any real relevance to the story? It makes a great sounding book. It fits the cover nicely. It sold millions of copies.
How about Beautiful Creatures (Darkness and Chaos), a favorite series of mine, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. These books are magical and dark and delicious. They also have a different title. The original one. SIXTEEN MOONS (and Seventeen and Eighteen). Titles that fit beautifully with the storyline. But those titles aren’t the ones we see.
How about JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Pretty clear that her titles (and covers) could not be more perfectly matched to the story.
That all being said, I am assuming it’s the romantic paranormal side of YA that tends to fall to luring titles, regardless of story content. Pretty covers sell. Put a catchy title on that pretty cover and you just increased your odds of selling a book.
So, what do you think? Choose the title that fits the storyline and hope it appeals to your readers? Choose the title that grips you as the writer from the start? Or choose a title (and cover) that targets your genre regardless of relevance to the book?
I know, I know. Be savvy enough to meld them all (EXCEPT relevance, I can’t move past that). Just answer the question;)