Can a title sell a book? | photo by Jenny Kaczorowski in WANA Commons
Can a title sell a book?
| photo by Jenny Kaczorowski in WANA Commons

Of all the aspects of writing craft we talk about, one that’s rarely touched on is coming up with a title. A catchy title can sell a book, but it also needs to hint at what readers will find beyond the cover. If the title is a pun, for example, we don’t expect to read a tragedy.

Often, writers start out with a working title. My manuscript now entitled “Made of Shadows” originally started out as “Below-world.” It wasn’t until well into the story that I came up with “Made of Shadows.” I had to learn my world and get to know my characters more before deciding.

Sometimes a catchy phrase just comes to us, and the title serves as a writing prompt. My current WIP, “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” actually came from my morning pages, three stream-of-conscious pages prescribed by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way.” In one entry I used the phrase “good old-fashioned magic.” I liked it as a title, so I opened a document and started typing. It ended up suiting the story well enough that I haven’t felt the need to change it.

The title for a story can come from within the story itself. A powerful line or phrase that hints at the theme of the story could well serve as a title.

If you’re stuck on a title, try selecting a few passages in your manuscript that sum up the theme of the story well. Is there a title hidden in there, waiting to be revealed? If so, does it convey the tone and genre of your story?

Lastly, a midweek ROW80 check-in…


  • Finish a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Rewrote one chapter and revised another. Two chapters to go.
  • Write a first draft of another novella. Finished! (Although technically, at 13,000 words, this project ended up more novelette than novella.)
  • Read a minimum of four books on the business or craft of writing. Four of four books read. Read “How to Write Dazzling Dialogue” by James Scott Bell.

Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.
  • Blog two times per week. On track.
  • Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!


What do you think? Do titles, like covers, sell books? What’s your method for titling your stories? Have you ever picked up or bought a book because its title piqued your curiosity?

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