As a fantasy author, it seems strange that I know almost nothing about Robert Jordan. After all, he stands out as one of the "big names" in fantasy, and yet, I've never cracked one of his book. It's even stranger that my first book would've had a different title if not for him.
You see, when I first began writing The Chosen of the Light (actually, right up until I began submitting), my manuscript had the title of The Children of the Light. Any Wheel of Time fans out there?
I'll get to why I changed the title of my book in a minute, but I wanted to share some interesting ideas about book titles.
For a new writer (and established authors), picking a title can be a challenging ordeal. Sometimes a title comes to you and it fits just fine. Other times you're met with conflicts. On the rare occasion, a title doesn't even pop into your head until you must have one. I still have a series of notebooks devoted to Something New, a book that has no title 10 years after I started it.
Whatever title you pick, here's some things to remember about the function of a title (thank you, Scott Berkun):
So not only do you have to find a title that's different and interesting, you have to find something that can withstand repetition. A title that readers might find embarrassing would be hard to market. A title that's too cliche might market okay, but I doubt it'd interest new readers.
Titles are a personal thing for writers, like naming your child. Writers oftentimes take pride in the names they select for their "children", and so it can be difficult to take criticism or even part with a chosen name. When I first discovered Robert Jordan had taken the name of Children of the Light, I was devastated. Since we were both publishing fantasy, I couldn't keep the title without feeling like I was stealing from him. Worse, I'd been calling my heros the Children of the Light since the beginning, and suddenly, I'd have to change that. What I settled on doesn't stretch things too far, but it was a shock nonetheless.
There are tons of differents way to come up with a title. Multiple websites and books out there promise to tell you what will work, but I say, trust your instincts and do your research. Had Children of the Light been used in another genre far from the fantasy realm, I probably would've kept it. In the end, it didn't do me much good because I split that book up anyway.
No one can predict if you have a sucky title, but your name will be on whatever you put out there. Be sure that you, the author, are proud of whatever title you pick. Your stories, your writing, should be important to you, and it all begins with a title.
The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.