Why you should research first, work later

Choosing a title for a book is not an easy process. You might think it would be the easiest part, but it’s really a rather difficult thing to do.

Generally speaking, I have a working title for my books until I’m quite far into them. Ripped Away, for example, was called “The Kidnapping Story” until I was probably at least 2/3 to 3/4 of the way finished with it. The Secrets He Kept actually had about four different titles before I settled on that one.

One of the important things, to me at least, is making sure that the title I choose doesn’t have a lot of competition. In addition to a lot of competition, I want to make sure it doesn’t have competition from the really well-known authors – I want to draw sales for myself, not for them, you know?

So typically, when I come up with what I think would be a good title, I do a little research first. The first thing I do is go to Amazon.com and type it in to see what comes up. Tangled Deceit got its name because my original title, Unfinished Business, not only had a lot of competition, but also from a big name author.

I was working with my kids the other day during our homeschool day. We’re currently reading Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and in the process of our discussions, got on the topic of sirens. We were discussing a variety of things about sirens, and the siren song was one of them. That was when the idea to call my current manuscript The Siren Song came to me.

I went with it. I forgot to do my research. I announced the title. Then I remembered to do my research. Oops. I found multiple books with that title, or one so similar that the chances were good that mine would simply get lost in the shuffle. I don’t want to be just another card in the deck.

So I began playing with variations on the title. Everything I came up with was already in use, more than once. Eventually, I started thinking I might have to come away from the siren idea altogether. But I really, really felt drawn to it. It felt right somehow. I knew there had to be a solution.

Then it hit me. I did some fast typing and found it wasn’t already used many times over. I have a new title now. And I really love it.

Are you ready?

When the Siren Calls

What do you think? I’ll start posting some info on it later, but I’d love to hear what you think of the title.