Book Titles

I recently received an email from the editor of my first two “Crow” books. I’d told him I had the rough draft finished on the third book in that series, tentatively titled A Murder of Crows. He wasn’t happy with the title. “Have you looked on Amazon,” he emailed. “Have you seen how many books have that title?”


Well, I know there are several (a lot, I guess) books with that title, but I haven’t been able to come up with anything I feel is better. What I need is a title that has the word “crow or crows” in it and gives the reader/book buyer the idea the story will be a mystery or suspense.

Titles are important, so I’m taking his question to heart. Whether on a shelf in a bookstore or listed on-line, it’s the title and cover illustration that often gets a potential buyer to stop and look further. I’ve never been particularly great at coming up with titles. (Or particularly creative.) My first romance, published by Harlequin Temptation, was First Impressions. Type that title on Amazon and see how many books pop up. Again, lots. My third book was Lost and Found. Yep, same problem. After a while, my Harlequin and Silhouette editors simply gave my books new titles. Some, I agree, were better than the ones I’d submitted. Others…well, I’m not so sure they were any better.

It’s really a shame that the success or failure of a book can depend on its title. Of course, there are always examples of books with so-so titles that go on to be gigantic successes. Those, in my opinion, are cases were word-of-mouth sells the book. The combination of a good title and a great cover definitely helps, but if what’s between that cover isn’t any good, word of mouth (bad reviews) can diminish any selling power the title may have had.

Not everyone realizes titles can’t be copyrighted. I’ve heard some people say (sounding surprised), “But that’s already been used.”

Of course, there are some titles a writer would be silly to try using. I wouldn’t even think of using, To Kill a Mocking Bird. (Yeah, I know, it doesn’t have the word crow in the title. But I wouldn’t even think of using To Kill a Crow…or would I? Naw, doesn’t have the punch or meaning Harper Lee’s title had.) I can’t imagine anyone ever titling a book Gone with the Wind.

Some book titles are changed when the book is published/offered in another country. J.K Rowling’s first book in the Harry Potter series had a different title in England than it did when it was released in the U.S. (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone vs Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) I have a feeling the American (Scholastic) editor didn’t think American kids would be as enticed by a philosopher’s stone as they would be by a sorcerer’s stone.

It’s been fun to see how the titles of some of my romances were changed when published in a foreign language/country. Obviously if the foreign publisher feels it’s important to change the title, it indicates they feel the title can affect sales.

So here I am, trying to come up with a title for this third “Crow” book. Any suggestions?

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20 Responses to Book Titles

  1. Kristen says:

    Hmm, I’m not the best to ask, since I’m a newbie, but my first book is titled “Lucky in Love.” Wildly original, but darn it, my main character’s name is Lucky, and there’s a Vegas/vintage theme. I had to use it! Good luck. 🙂

  2. My current wip has had about three different titles so far. My critique partner came up with the one I’m using now. (Which I still may change.) All I can come up with is Deadly Crows, The Sinister Crow. How about The Crow Knows? Just kidding. Good luck with whatever you settle on.

  3. Grandma E says:

    To Kill a Murder of Crows…
    (Just kidding….)

  4. I’ve had three books with titles used by other people, and I ended up with reviews meant for other books. I can see where your editor is coming from. Hmm. Give Me the Crowdown? Crow, Baby? Crow the Line? No, I like Margo’s better.

  5. Melissa Keir says:

    I like Margo’s too. Menacing Crows, Ominous Crows, Lethal Crows, I’m just using a thesaurus. 🙂

    I’m awful with titles. All mine have been used again. I think like with some ideas, titles are hard to be unique. Best of luck!

  6. Mia says:

    Eat Crow and Die.

  7. Linda Long says:

    LOL How about Who’s Crowing Now?

  8. Diane Burton says:

    Did you know crows can remember faces? Some scientists experimented with wearing masks.

    What about The Eye of the Crow?

    • Maris Soule says:

      Wow, Diane. Yes, I knew about crows remembering faces, but I also like that title. Thanks.

    • Patricia Lazarus says:

      I like Diane’s suggestion! Margo’s, too. LOL! The only titles I could think of were Eaten by Crows, the Crow Cocks at Midnight, and A Scare of Crows. And there is, of course, A Crow Walks into a Bar.

      • Maris Soule says:

        Patricia, I like the “A Crow Walks into a Bar” but I have a feeling my editor won’t. I have added the other ones to the list I’m making. I especially like “A Scare of Crows.” Maybe not that exactly, but something like it. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond.

  9. Lucy Kubash says:

    Too bad your title is so overused because I liked it. I really like Diane’s suggestion. Since we have so many crows hanging around here, I’ll suggest “Those Damn Crows.” (just kidding), but I’ll have to think about it the next time I see one raiding my bird feeders and I’d like to murder it.

  10. Paula Geister says:

    Mystery seems to have more ‘fun’ when it’s at night. How about “Crows After Midnight”? (Gotta remember, I’m a newbie too. oh well.)

    • Maris Soule says:

      Paula, I’ve added your suggestion to my list. Doesn’t quite fit the story, but maybe I can work something in. Thanks for taking the time to “think” on this.

      • paula geister says:

        I also was thinking of how scary Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was and thought of “Crows on a Wire.”

  11. Diana Mooney says:

    I struggle with titles too. Demise of the Crows or When the Crow Caws, Good luck.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Diana, I’ve added both suggestions to my list. I’m so glad I asked for suggestions. I’m getting some really good ones. My plan (at the moment) is to submit my list along with the ms and let my editor decide which one he feels would be best.