I wouldn’t say I dislike coming up with book and story titles, but it isn’t the easiest part of the writing process. It’s like choosing character names but with a little more pressure as titles have to be unique, poignant, and hint at the essence of a story, and they have to make readers want to buy.
In my process, title creation usually comes near the beginning of the drafting stage because this is when I start working on the cover. The title is an essential part of a cover’s layout, and though some designers might be able to put in a placeholder, I struggle to come up with a design that truly reflects the story until I come up with a title that also reflects it. I use the same brainstorming technique I use for everything else: listing. I simply list titles until one sticks. But each potential title has to meet certain criteria.
1. It must convey the essence of the story.
I don’t have a blurb for LUCAN AND COURT yet, so I don’t have a perfect way of summarizing the story’s essence at the moment, but when I was brainstorming titles, I wanted to highlight three things: the second-chance trope, the angst of Lucan and Court’s relationship, and kink. Some titles that made my short list were After the High, On the Edge of Pleasure, Indignity, and Torturous, but none of them felt quite right.
2. It must be unique.
In this case, unique means SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. I kind of mean it should be easy to find when searching Google, but Amazon is its own type of search engine, so this is what I focus on (other sales sites like Kobo and iBooks don’t have as advanced an algorithm as Amazon). For each title I come up with that I like, I run it through Amazon’s search within the category of Kindle Store to see if there are other books with the same name.
As an example, here’s one title I initially brainstormed: Sharp Love. As you can see in the below screenshot, Sharp Love isn’t only taken, it’s taken by an M/M book: Sharp Love by Ava March.
Ideally, a title shouldn’t be in use by any other books, but if it’s in use in a genre unrelated to M/M romance like nonfiction, it’s still viable. I tend to avoid titles in use by any romance books, not just M/M, since M/M and M/F and other romance audiences tend to overlap.
3. It must meet reader expectations within the story’s genre.
Though uniqueness is crucial, a book title shouldn’t be toounique. It has to fit in with other titles in the genre, or the right readers might not think the book is for them. For example, I only brainstormed shorter titles because romance books don’t usually have long titles, unlike nonfiction. Sometimes it’s a good idea to use words that pertain to the genre, like “sword” for fantasy or “ship” for science fiction. I used some romance and erotic romance words in some of my brainstormed titles, like in Hard Love, Hurting For Him, Take Me There, and Beg for It. Most of these such titles were taken.
In the end, I settled on…
This one took me longer than usual, to be honest, mostly because I find it difficult to come up with contemporary romance titles that are unique. As you probably know, contemporary romance is a big genre, popular among readers and therefore writers, so there are a lot of titles to compete with.
As I was brainstorming and struggling to settle on a title, I narrowed my focus to the aftercare part of BDSM. No spoilers (maybe spoilers XD), but Lucan and Court’s big problem in the past had to do with aftercare (or the lack thereof). Aftercare, of course, is the title of my friend Tanya Chris’s book, so it couldn’t be that easy ;). After the High was almost the title, but inexplicably, I just couldn’t settle on it. I tried to make the cover with that title, and something was off.
MAKING IT BETTER came to me while I was doing something else. Working, maybe, or while I was thinking before bed. I can’t remember, but I wrote it down in Evernote and checked on its availability later. It’s taken, but not by any books in the romance genre, and it fits the book’s themes. In the story, Lucan and Court will be making their relationship better, and Court especially will be working on being better at BDSM as a whole, but especially at aftercare, the “making it better” part of a kink scene.