Choosing titles for your novel

I had a great time at Angel Radio yesterday and was fortunate enough to meet one of my 'fans' who came in to the studio especially to see me and tell me how much she enjoyed my Horton novels. It's great for a writer to hear from readers who enjoy their work, so thank you. Much appreciated and it spurred me on to rush home and write.

One of the questions Mildred French, the presenter of the radio show at Angel Radio, asked me was how do you choose titles for your novels? It's a question that often comes up when I am giving talks. I might have covered it here before, but here goes, again, if I have!

Titles either come to me instantly, as in my new Marine Mystery crime novel -Dead Man's Wharf, due out on 29 April, or I struggle for ages. The first title in the series was simple, Tide of Death but I had to change the title of the second in the series from Deadly Harbour to Deadly Waters, because it was being published in the USA and the publisher didn't want the English spelling of harbour on the cover. I struggled with the title of the new Inspector Horton Marine Mystery I'm writing, but I have now called it Blood Upon the Sand though that could change before publication.

In Cold Daylight began as The Cold Light of Day before I found another book of the same title in the same genre, a thriller, so I changed it - just to be on the safe side - to In Cold Daylight. And In For The Kill came instantly to me and explains just what that thriller is about - Alex Albury on his quest for revenge is in for the kill.

There is no copyright on a title but if you choose a title that is the same as another in the same genre you could find the publisher of the original book objecting and in danger of having your book pulled.

Titles, just like book covers, have to fit the type of novel or genre, and in my case, because my novels are Marine Mysteries they also have to have a 'sea' element in the title and cover image. Both are very important in attracting the new reader although once readers discover your novels and enjoy them they will then specifically look out for the new one. Many people rarely remember the titles after they've read a book (unless the book becomes film). People might not even remember the author's name but what they often remember is the main character and they'll look for the next Inspector Horton, or the next Marine Mystery.

I did once, however, meet a reader who told me that she only ever bought crime books with murder or death in the title!

What do you think? How important are book titles to you and what influences you when you buy a book?

I've also just posted a new interview by The News on the murder of my great aunt, Martha Giles. You can read it here under the section 'Interviews' or click here to read it on The News web site.


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