A few years back Jennifer Ashley and I did a workshop on Title & Premise and how writers could get the interest of editors, agents or readers before they even started the book.  Today, I want to concentrate on the title part. 

A lot of writers skip skip working on a title or figure that it’s not that important because it’s only likely to change anyway.  And while it’s true that the writing is what will sell your book, the title can lay a lot of groundwork for you. 

I’ll never forget the day colleague Chris Keeslar swung by my office all excited: “I just got this proposal called THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER. I haven’t even started it yet, but don’t you just love that title?”  Fortunately, Leanna Renee Hieber‘s writing lived up to it. 

A good title will:

  • Indicate the genre
  • Give a sense of the tone
  • Provide continuity for similar/series titles
  • Intrigue the reader

Julie Kenner (The Givenchy Code, Carpe Demon) and Katie MacAlister (Love in the Time of Dragons; Sex, Lies and Vampires) are some of my ultimate heroes when it comes to clever titles.  But a title doesn’t have to be particularly clever or humorous.  Because, remember, it has to fit the tone of the book.

How to come up with a good title:

  • Figure out what best conveys your style. Is it sexy? Funny? Dark? (all three?) Are you trying to convey a certain time period? 

Let’s use Jennifer Ashley’s paranormal-historical Nvengarian series as an example.  Our theme: Fairy Tales

  • Brainstorm lists of words that convey the style you’ve chosen.

–         Prince Charming, Once Upon a Time, Happily Ever After

  • Start playing around with those words and combining them with other aspects that make your work unique. Look for rhymes, alliteration, wordplay. Keep in mind that it needs to be able to fit on a mass-market cover and still have room for the art.

–         Penelope & Prince Charming has great alliteration and works in the fairy-tale theme.

–         The second book in the series was tougher. Nothing in the list above sounded original enough.  So Jennifer concentrated on the time period with a rhyme and came up with The Mad, Bad Duke.  It’s clearly Regency set–a play on Lady Caro Lamb’s words about Byron “He was mad, bad, and dangerous to know”—which Regency readers recognize.  It also sounds playful and sexy.

–         With the third book featuring a fun-loving Scot, we came up with Highlander Ever After, again pulling in that fairy-tale theme.

     

Where to find inspiration for your titles:

  • imdb.com – The Internet Movie Database
  • your CD collection
  • rhyming dictionaries
  • regular dictionary
  • advertising slogans

Most of all, brainstorming should be a fun process, not a hair-pulling one–even if it feels like it sometimes.  Just stick with it,  don’t be afraid to ask everyone you know for suggestions, and go with what feels good.

And a totally shameless plug that has more to do with art than titles: Check out Jennifer’s PRIDE MATES on Clash of the Covers this week.

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Part of Borders’ new RomCon (Denver, July 9-11) is a reader-judged award called The Readers’ Crown.  The winners in each of 11 categories receive some pretty impressive in-store promotion.  

Congratulations to our finalists:

ANNE MARSH – THE HUNT, Best First Book

 

JENNIFER ASHLEY – THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE, Best Long Historical

EMILY BRYAN – “My Lady Below Stairs” from A CHRISTMAS BALL, Best Novella

A full list of finalists can be found here.

Congratulations to Jamie Ungaro, the newly crowned Mr. Romance from this weekend’s Romantic Times BookLovers Convention. 

And more congratulations go to Reviewers’ Choice Award winners Jennifer Ashley for THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE and Nina Bangs for ETERNAL CRAVING.  

  

I’ll be a panelist on Friday afternoon for Romance in the Backseat’s Book Bloggers and Publisher’s Conference.  Which made me realize that I’ve been really behind in the blogging. Topics will include how authors, bloggers and publishers can all work together, whether authors should blog, building your audience and more.

But my lack of posts is hardly for lack of good stuff going on.

As many of you likely know, it’s bracket time.  Forget basketball and vote for your favorite romances in the Dear Author/Smart Bitches DA BWAHA TourneyJennifer Ashley‘s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE (Historical) and THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER by Leanna Renee Hieber (Paranormal) both made the big dance.

Releases for books through October 2010 can now be found on the Coming Soon page.

Feeling the luck of the Irish?  Win a bundle of books by signing up for our Romance newsletter. And even if you don’t make it in time for the drawing, we still have all kinds of exclusive freebies only available to subscribers.

Congratulations to Jennifer Ashley, who is now a  New York Times bestselling author!  PRIDE MATES is also on this week’s USA Today list.  Hooray for sexy shifters!

SunriseinGardenGet a peek at our April 2010 releases.  The slate includes Barbara Monajem’s debut, SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL, a paranormal romance that Susan Squires calls “in the spirit of Charlaine Harris.” 

SUNRISE is also the first book in our new lineup of Publisher’s Pledge titles, books the editors have hand selected as being so strong that we’re willing to offer readers a refund if they don’t absolutely fall in love with the story.

Hope you also enjoy the larger cover images!

And on the Coming Soon page is a listing of ALL the May 2010 books on the Dorchester schedule, along with a new excerpt for PRIDE MATES, the first book in Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series, coming in February.

Congratulations to the following finalists for the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence:

     

Emily Bryan has posted more RT photos on her site, including shots from the Mr. Romance competition.

Speaking of RT, Teri Thackston wrote a great recap of the Dorchester Spotlight.  The only thing you’re missing is the chocolate we gave out.

Jennifer Ashley is over on The Chatelaines today–part of her huge blog tour–talking about the dream life of an author.

And catch a glimpse of the darker side of Dorchester with Executive Editor Don D’Auria’s interview at Famous Monsters.