Making Your Title Sexy

Got your attention, didn't it?

I have included for illustration's sake a photo of Justin Timberlake only because he did, of course, bring sexy back. To be honest, Lance was always my favorite NSYNC member, and well . . . you know how that turned out.

Today is all about--you guessed it! Creating titles that catch your readers' attention. Titling your manuscript can be so difficult, because you have to sum up the sentiment and all the layers of your book into a short little phrase. Some people will tell you not to spend too much time on your title because a publishing house will change it anyway, but I would disagree with that, because you need a good title to catch the attention of a publishing house or agent in the first place. Not to mention, wouldn't you rather have the chance to title it yourself, picking something that's consistent with your book's overall vibe? So here are some things to keep in mind when working on your titles that should increase your chances of getting to keep the original title when the book does sell.

  • Your title is your first opportunity for marketing. So make it good.
  • Use a consistent tone as what you use in the book. Have you read My Life As A Doormat by Rene Gutteridge? It's pretty much one of the best books of all time, and the tone throughout is as funny as the title sounds. What about A Grownup Kind of Pretty by Jocelyn Jackson? I rented this one from the library but couldn't get into it enough to finish. That said, I love the title and think it showcases Jocelyn's lyrical writing style so well.
  • Create a hook that catches attention and makes us what to find out what this story's all about.
  • Add layers of depth to the title's implications. Another one of my favorite books of all time is Miss Invisible by Laura Jensen Walker. At the beginning of the story, two main things drive the character: she is indeed a "miss" and it not exactly thrilled about that fact, and she prefers, at all costs, to remain invisible.
  • Keep it relatively short.
  • Create a title that will only become more interesting after someone has read the story. Examples of this are Pride and Prejudice, To Kill A Mockingbird, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Eats, Shoots, & Leaves, and Where the Wild Things Are.
  • Keep the target audience in mind. 
A good title, like a good cover, can set you apart from other books as readers who may be unfamiliar with your writing browse through the bookshelves. In my opinion, it's one of the most important ways to catch the attention of readers. I know I've picked up many books based off their titles alone. Haven't you?

Okay, so now I need your help! I'm entering Family Fiction's short romance contest, and I need a clever title that will catch everyone's attention. Here's my setup. A woman is in an airplane, and she fingers her engagement ring, considering whether or not her fiance has found the note she left in his mailbox to break up with him. Then she gets off the plane and runs into her true love from the past--the man from the lake house. Need I say more? She sees him, and makes her confession. She is in town again for a reason. She is dying. He's clearly upset, but he tells her he's taking her back to the lake house, which she finds out he bought because he never did get over her. So it's in the discovery of terminal illness that she finally starts living.

Here are some possible titles: 
The Moment Life Begins
The Lake House
Love in an Airport Terminal
Sweet Memories: The Past that Wouldn't Stay Gone
Old flames, Baggage, and a Note in the Mailbox
Baggage Claim
The Sun Sets in Georgia

Which of these titles do you like the best? Or can you come up with another one? Also, would you be willing to give some examples of your own favorite book titles? I'm interested to see what everyone's interests are!

*Photos from,


  1. I like "The Past That Wouldn't Stay Gone", without the sweet memories part.

    Or "Baggage Claim".

    Perhaps I'm strange. My favorite titles are long:

    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

    Love in the Time of Cholera

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

    The Postman Always Rings Twice

    Shall I quit? I haven't even read all of those.

    1. Ohhh, great titles! I especially love "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Thanks for the examples! :)

  2. I always liked Lance too! I was devastated... :(

    I changed the title of my work three times. I think I've finally got something that really works.

    I really like the titles of Katie Ganshert's books: "Wildflowers from Winter" and "Wishing on Willows". Love the alliteration!!

    As for yours, I wouldn't suggest "The Lake House" since that's a movie, I think, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves...and I wouldn't want anything associated with Keanu Reeves if I could help it (good looking but can't act worth beans imo!).

    But I really like "The Moment Life Begins". It has a poignant feel to it, like your story seems to. I agree with Wanderer about "The Past That Wouldn't Stay Gone" without the Sweet Memories on it.

    Have fun choosing! :)

    1. At least he seemed to be doing well when he was on Dancing with the Stars. It is SO hard to commit to a title, isn't it? Great examples with Katie's books! Love her!

      Thanks for your help with title suggestions as well! I'm going to try to incorporate some humor into it... we'll see!

  3. Hi Ashley,
    I love the movie with Sandra Bullock, The Lake House. So I wouldn't use that.
    The airport title makes me think of a Tom Hanks movie.
    I like your other choices though. Although the Georgia title makes me want to cry.
    I kinda like Baggage Claim best.
    I'm sure you'll pick the best title!

    1. Thanks Jackie! I ended up going with "One Way Ticket" instead.