Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finding the Perfect Title—My Three Step Process, A guest post from Melissa MacVicar, author of Ever Lost

Giving your book a name is hard. The only thing more important than the title when it comes to selling your book is the cover. I was blessed to have Streetlight Graphics and Red Adept Publishing come up with the most amazing covers for my Secret Affinity series but finding the title for the first book, Ever Near, was a long and arduous process for me.

Sometimes, coming up with a title feels a bit like trying to catch birds in your backyard without a net. Impossible, right? Well, below I am sharing my best advice on creating a title for your work. I hope this will spare others from having to learn the hard way like I did.

  1. Fifteen minutes
Sit down at your desk with a notepad. Set a timer and write as many words as you can in fifteen minutes that describe your book. These are the words that you say when people ask you what your book is about, and you have to give them a quick answer. Example: “It’s about a girl in Nantucket who sees ghosts and falls in love.”

So you write

girl, love, ghost, Nantucket, falls, see

Then you use these words as a jumping off point for synonyms and other words that are meaningful to your story.

Romance, beach, spirits, Fair-Ever, vision etc

Keep writing until the timer goes off, even if some of the words are terrible.

  1. Play with the words
Once the fifteen minutes is up, go through and circle all the words that you like. Then, put them together in weird combinations, kind of like people do with those word magnets on a refrigerator. This is poetry writing. You don’t want sentences. You don’t necessary want them to make sense. You want them to evoke emotion and create pictures in your mind. Do this until you can’t do it anymore. You may find a title this way but if you don’t, go on to step three.

If you are still struggling, go to This is a great online thesaurus that gives more than just synonyms; it gives phrases and other words that are associated with the key word.
Put in some of the words you have circled, the ones that are your favorites, and see what pops up. Write down new words and phrases you find there and try new combinations. Just write. Don’t be afraid to try new things. This will usually result in the best titles.

In the end, when you find the right title, you just know it—kind of like love at first sight. You think the words, you say them out loud a few times, and then you write them down in your notebook. After staring at them for a few minutes, a smile lifts your lips. You will have a sudden sense that all is right with the world. You may sigh contently with relief. This is when you know you’ve found the perfect name for your baby.

Check me out online at the following links for more about me and my writing. 

Get your copy of Ever Lost, the latest installment of Melissa's Secret Affinity series, from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble.

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K.C. May said...

Great tips! I always struggle with book titles, myself. I tried going to, though -- didn't find it.

Firefox can't find the server at

Could it be at a different URL? I'd love to take a look. Sounds like a neat thesaurus.

Melissa MacVicar said...

So sorry, KC! I mispelled it. It's panlexicon not panelexicon. I have emailed Big Al to see if they can edit the post. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.

Melissa MacVicar said...

Thanks for hosting me here! (And sorry about the misspelling.) :)

BooksAndPals said...

Thanks for doing it, Melissa. I've fixed the typo. :)

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I'm working on this very thing right now. Always a difficult business. Thanks for the tips and best of luck with your work.

Unknown said...

What a great idea. Thank you Melissa. Now to find that title. :)