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Laurie answers a question about titling books in a series.

Hi! I’m a new (to fiction) writer working on a series and I have a question about titles. In coming up with series titles, is it best to go w/ keyword type titles- ie the Billionaire Captures a Bride, or The Cowboy Rescues a Bride, or is it better to have some kind of themed title, ie: Mountain Heat, Mountain Fire, Mountain Obsession etc.. / High Heels & Hot Nights, High Heels & Bad Boys… Does it even matter? I know in non-fiction it’s all about keywords, in Romance is there a buying preference of keyworded titles over more dramatic/imaginative titles?

Hi Tessa,

Thanks for stopping by and posting your question. It is an interesting one.

The first thing to realize is that if you are publishing your book with a publisher the publisher will most likely make the final decision as to the book’s title. Often times they enlist your help in coming up with a new title if they don’t like your original working title or if they think adding or eliminating certain words from the title would make the title appeal more to their specific book buyers. They will have good knowledge about which words in titles perform well with their specific audience.

Publishers are different and have different (though overlapping) audiences and have different views on what works best for them.

From a marketing standpoint I think it is a good idea to use titles that connect the series…like High Heels & Hot Nights, High Heels & Bad Boys rather than disparate titles that don’t connect the series.

More and more readers buy online. Often their first search is for type of book…romantic suspense…erotic romance…paranormal romance…shapeshifter romance…etc. When they bring up those results you probably want it to be clear that the stories are connected in a series because readers seem to like reading books in a series. They also like knowing that if they like your book there is another one after it that they can purchase. It’s also nice if the series titles can help the reader intuit the order of the books. One of the things that will make a reader walk away from a series book purchase is ambiguity about where in the series the book falls. This is especially true if it isn’t clear from the blurb that the book stands alone. Books like Maya Banks Breathless Trilogy use titles which escalate in intensity. She uses Rush, Fever and Burn. If you just saw those books on the virtual shelf and saw their similar covers you would probably realize that they were part of a series. From their titles which move from less intense to more intense you could likely intuit the order of the books.

Jay Crownover in contrast uses the names of her heroes as the titles in her Marked Men series. You cannot tell from the visible titles on the covers or the titles that the books are connected as a series. In her case the stories do stand alone well so it isn’t imperative to know the order…but for some readers it IS imperative and is a big factor in purchasing.

Though other publishers can and do have different opinions I would generally opt toward giving readers more information or choosing titles which allow them to intuit more information.

Titles with similar words and escalating intensity of some of the words allow the reader to recognize the books are part of a series and the probable order of the books in the series. This gives them more information and diminishes the chance they will walk away from the purchase because they don’t have all the information they’d like to have prior to making the purchase.

If you have a writing related question please ask it. I am always happy to answer writing related questions on the blog. Each month I am giving away one 2500 word overview markup to someone who posted a writing related question on the blog.


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