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?