Lists: Can We Judge a Book By Its Cover Title?

If you read my blog regularly you’ll have noted by now that titles are crucial to me.  They are crucial to my publisher, too.  Unfortunately we don’t always agree about what’s crucial to sell a book and keep an author happy.

I’ll confess that in hindsight I can see that some of my ideas have been less than stellar.  I remember titling one of my first romances The Soul’s Seduction, which Harlequin Superromance put a stop to immediately.  Of course their selection, Something So Right, has never felt like, well, something so right. But in all fairness, neither does The Soul’s Seduction, which now sounds like it should be a sequel to The Exorcist.

We’re having problems with my latest title, too, months after I proposed it and thought it was safe.  That’s particularly difficult for me since I’ve worked it into the story in numerous ways already.  This is something authors get and publishers don’t.  I’ve heard on good authority that Adam wanted to call the first book of the New Testament Eve and the Magic Apple, and we all know how that turned out.

I have friends who are far more objective about this process, believing that publisher input is vital.  I have others who are so thoroughly disenchanted they call every novel Untitled because they know marketing will change it no matter what, so why waste time?  A mega-bestselling author once told me a true story about a meeting in which she was told  what the title of her new book would be.  Marketing’s pick was two words, a heroine’s name and something the heroine possessed.  Neither word had any correlation to the story, but somebody thought it was a great title.  She wrote the book to match it.

I am not nearly as accommodating.  You will note that I am also not a mega-bestselling author.

Today, though, I’m most interested in what YOU think.  What makes a book title memorable and attractive enough that you pull it off the bookshelf to check out the story?  I’m truly interested in your opinion, so please feel free to also give examples if they occur to you.  I’ll start with  three that matter to me, just to get things rolling. Remember, this is your chance to be heard.  Share at least one thought in a comment on this post. If everything you want to say has been covered, just tell us a book title you’ve particularly liked and why.  You will still be entered. will choose a winner in June from all commenters on both list posts in May.  The prize is an autographed novel, my choice since it will depend on what is not yet packed.  You still have time to comment on the first one, too.

Elements of a Great Book Title:

1: The title fits the genre so that the reader isn’t fooled

2: The title is short enough to remember AND long enough to remember

3:  The title captures my imagination

Now it’s your turn. Have fun.

And in another giveaway.  Congratulations to Janet Bowlin, whose comment on my interview with Diane Chamberlain was chosen by to win a copy of Diane’s Keeper of the Light.


  1. Becky on May 22, 2012 at 8:47 am

    What I love in a title…
    that it immediately brings me back to the story.
    Lover’s knot would have been one of my favorite titles… because not only was that the name of the quilt but Isaac and Kendra’s relationship was a knot.

    Another great example for me would be Sister’s Choice… because of the quilt but because of the choices Jamie made in regards to her own health and the twins.

    When I see a title like those… they immediately draw me back into the story.

  2. Mary C in WA on May 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I look for the quilt names in your book titles. So I suppose that #2 best describes my reasoning in selecting a book to buy. I Love your books and await the next one to be available to read… Good luck finding the “right” title. Maybe you could post a snipet of the first chapter for us to read and make suggestions.

  3. Wanda on May 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Short Titles catch my eye like those of John Jake’s Kent Family Chronicles, ie. The Rebels.

    Words that evoke emotion or feeling also draw me to books, be it light or dark emotions, ie. good, darkness, peaceful, shadows.,

    Quilt related titles always draw me in.

  4. Becky on May 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I agree that the Quilt Titles draw me in… normally, but I did love Sunset Bridge… how could that have had any other name.

    I look for titles that hook me… recently read Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts and that definitely has meaning for the story.

    The question my heart asks are we going to remember One Mountain Away because the title connects us to the story.

    I know when I read the blog post about the title I remember thinking because I live in the mountains that normally things can be quite different one mountain away.

    • Emilie Richards on May 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      I love that you’re trying to figure out the significance of my new title. That’s what I always hope for. I think you’ll understand when you read it. It has several meanings, which makes it particularly good–even if I didn’t think of it.

  5. Maureen Johnson on May 27, 2012 at 1:54 am

    The last book I bought because of the title alone was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It is the only book of his I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Normally it isn’t the titles that attract me be buying as I buy books by my favorite authors (until they have a couple of crappy books, then they are off my radar forever).

  6. Paula Carlson on May 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I love a title that “grabs me” at first look, and it varies greatly from author to author. Just one word can do it… and I don’t like long titles. The titles alone normally give me the incentive to buy. Good luck with your move!

  7. Fay Hutchings on May 30, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I’m like Maureen and don’t really choose books by title, although it sometimes is what makes me choose a book. I mainly choose the author. AND sometimes it’s the books cover that attracts me. To be frank, it’s more than sometimes!

    I do remember book titles better, when authors have used them in the story. It makes the story mean so much more when you can “get” the authors thinking about the story. I love those “aha!” moments!

    • Emilie Richards on May 30, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Ah, me, too. Now, if publishers just “got it.”

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