01Determine What Ideas You Want Your Book Title to Get Across
Determine what ideas you want your book title to get across. Julia Child and her co-authors wanted to bring authentic French cooking to the American homemaker, who was likely to be unfamiliar with recipes or methods.
Keeping in mind the book's promise to readers, make a list of ideas of what you'd like the title to convey, and the emotional response you'd like target readers to have, and words that might suggest those ideas.
For example, if you've written a simple story to help young children start reading, your list might include:
Make the book sound appealing to reluctant readers
Let the readers identify with the characters
Reading isn't a chore
Reading can be fun
Make them want to read!
02Brainstorm Book Title Ideas
Generate a lot of book title ideas around the contents of the book--words, phrases, fragments. Make your list as long as possible. Don't worry if the ideas are silly or weird -- don't limit yourself or judge your list at this point, just get them down on paper (maybe even on index cards, like Julia Child and Judith Jones did).
To help you brainstorm your book title, you can use the help of an online book title generator as well as this fun method, which emulates what often happens in some book publisher's packaging meetings.
Gather some friends of friends to help (more neutral than actual friends; bribing them with food and drink usually works). Share with the group the list of ideas and emotional responses you made in step 1 and tell them to go at it. Remember, no judgments! In her memoir, My Life in France, Julia Child wrote that some of the "brainstormed" early ideas included: French Magicians in the Kitchen, Method in Cuisine Madness, French Cooking from the American Supermarket, The Witchcraft of French Cooking, and Food-France-Fun.
Here's a sampling of ideas for our early reading title:
E-Z Reading with Friends
Reading Can Be Fun!
Dick and Jane with Mother and Father, Spot and Puff... and Sally, too!
Simple Stories for Simple People
Not Long on Plot, But Boy, You'll Learn to Read!
If your book needs a subtitle, use the same method for brainstorming subtitles to complement your title selections:
Dick and Jane and Friends: A Simple Story for Young Readers
Reading Can Be Fun: The Dick and Jane Episodes
03Refine Your Book Title
04Research Your Book's Competition
If you're very familiar with the market and competition for your book (and you'd better well be), the most obvious competitive books are top of mind and too much research into other people's work too early in the process can hinder your creative free flow.
But after your brainstorming and narrowing, you should google your book title and look it up on Amazon.com. Sometimes your most brilliant idea is... already out there. And, while you can't copyright a title, and you should be aware (and beware) of marketplace confusion.
Is the coast clear for your top book title picks?
Reading Can Be Fun with Dick and Jane
The Adventures of Dick and Jane
Easy Reading with Dick, Jane, and Friends
05Socialize and Solicit Opinions
Socialize your top choices for a book title: get the opinions of others who you trust — readers in your genre, as well as your local booksellers and librarians, are good choices. Despite all your own book title work, showing the top contenders around might just spur an idea you hadn't yet thought of...
"How about just Fun with Dick and Jane?"
Writing good book titles is an art and a skill and hitting on the right title for a book is often an "Aha!" moment. (In Julia Child's case, the winner was, of course, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Book Title Generator: How to Write A Recipe Book Title, Step-by-Step
A catchy, "selling" book title sometimes erupts spontaneously from the mind of the author, the editor or someone in the publisher's marketing or sales department. More often, however, writing a book title--like everything else about thoughtfully publishing a book--involves work.
For the book publishing- and food-loving biopic Julie and Julia, about the best-selling cookbook author Julia Child, screenwriter and director Nora Ephron wrote a wonderful scene about writing a book title involving a lot of brainstorming and then an "Aha!" moment. Save for the invention of word processing; the scene rings true as one method by which book editors and authors think up their book titles.
If you're in the process of titling a book, learn how to be your own book title generator. The following is a bit more structured method to help get your creative — and marketing — juices flowing.