Sunday, July 13, 2014

Title Madness - HELP!

Last week (or maybe it was the week before) I decided I'm changing the title of my book again. Again! Which is insane because I really love my current title. So why would I change it? AGAIN? (Other than the fact that I have serious commitment issues?)

I'm just going to take a risk and tell you my current title, and the title I'm considering switching over to, because I can't really explain where I'm coming from without disclosing those details. But feel free to skip this explanation and go straight to the highlighted questions below if you don't feel like reading my endless monologue here, because that's where I need help.

For the last couple of months I have called my book There Is No Dawn. I fell in love with this title for a number of reasons:

  1. There is No Dawn immediately makes you think, "Why? Why isn't there a dawn?" Titles that ignite questions are more likely to compel readers to pick up your book to learn more.
  2. Even though the title contains four words, each word is monosyllabic and easy to remember. Basically, the title is simple and to the point.
  3. In one tension-building scene of my manuscript, my male lead states "There will be no midnight. There is no dawn." I think it's pretty cool as a writer if you can manage to connect your title to a meaningful quote.
  4. I come from the world of classy, poetic titles, like "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Bridge to Terabithia," "A Wrinkle in Time," etc., so it's natural for me to gravitate to titles that evoke intriguing imagery and come complete with prepositions. 
  5. The title is a double entendre, given that the four sisters' biological mother, Dawnetta ("Dawn") is missing. They will search for her in Book 4. 
That's a pretty good list, and it's easy to think "Sounds like you have a winner!" But here are some problems I came across:
  1. Even though I might be growing weary of the YA trend toward one-word titles (i.e. "Delirium," "Selection," "Divergent," etc.), it's a trend for a reason. Today's YA readers prefer more straight-forward, direct, edgier titles over the flowery titles of yester-year. Not to say longer titles don't still exist (i.e. The Forest of Hands and Teeth), but these seem to be the exception to the rule. Casing point: Every family member or friend of mine in the 30+ age group who heard my title There Is No Dawn was all over it, with comments such as "Ooh, intriguing," and "I'd definitely pick up a book with that title." Yet when I suggested the title to teens, the feedback was ...well..."meh." They all liked it, but thought it sounded more like a title for an older adult novel. My own 14 year-old daughter said that she loved the title, but it sounded like the name of a book that her teacher would make her read in school. Ouch.
  2. While There Is No Dawn might work well for a stand-alone novel, I need a title that works for a book that is part of a series. This changes the dynamic of my titling process a LOT, because I have to be able to spin off the title of Book 1 to create the titles for Book 2 and beyond (think Divergent/Insurgent/Allegiant, Ruby Red/Sapphire Blue/Emerald Green, and so on). If I name Book 1 There Is No Dawn, what do I call Book 2? There Is No Dusk? I can't think of any spin-offs that work for my sequels. 
  3. Yes, the title works well as a double-entendre, but the four sisters don't search for their mother until Book 4. Dawn--the person--is barely even alluded to in Book 1. Thus, There Is No Dawn, if I choose to use it, would be much more applicable to Book 4. 
The above issues were really starting to eat at me, and I finally came to the conclusion that, despite my love for There Is No Dawn, I need to change my title. Again. *long-suffering sigh* Then I was hit with an idea--a way to have my cake and eat it too. While teens aren't particularly drawn to flowery titles for books, they have no problem with flowery series-names. That's when I thought "I'll use There Is No Dawn as my series title! Brilliant!"

Or so I thought, until I said the following out-loud: "I'm reading the There Is No Dawn series." Damn. Going from the word "the" to "there" is awkward and choppy, and there is no way around it. Even if I changed over to chronicles, or books, or whatever, I'm always stuck with the word "The."

So here is where I am. Right now I am tentatively calling my quadrilogy the Reaching for Dawn series to take care of that cumbersome the-there combo. The title works on two levels: 1. The girls are trying to reach a certain destination/point of time in each book, and 2. The search for their missing mother Dawn is the larger thread in books 3 and 4.

As far as individual book titles, I'm leaning toward Diminished for book 1, Revived for book 2, Chilled for book 3, and Seared for book 4. But...I just don't know. My daughter got all excited and bouncy when she heard the title "Diminished," and she IS an avid reader of my genre, so that did give me a little confidence boost about it. And I do like it better than Spiraling. I like how the title connects with my MC's power, and the story line itself, considering the characters are trapped in a diminishing time loop. Overall, I feel like I could be content/comfortable with that title, and I think it aptly represents my book. But...I still feel like I need the opinion(s) of someone other than my own family, and FAST. For better or worse, my title will be engraved in stone (aka: printed on a book cover) in the next 3 weeks. So, HELP! I will be eternally grateful to anyone willing to tell me what you think. I don't care about books 2 through 4...I have plenty of time (years, even) to worry about those titles. I'm just worried about book 1.

So here is my question, short and sweet: Do you like the title DIMINISHED for a YA paranormal romance? Feel free to be honest--it's not like I gave birth to this title and will feel offended if you tell me it's ugly and wrinkly.

And what about Reaching for Dawn as a series title? Yay? Nay? If yay, the book would be called DIMINISHED (A Reaching for Dawn Novel)...or something to that effect.

Please someone tell me that you've gone through this title-changing psychosis with your own books. Because I'm seriously feeling like a crazy person. And insanity loves company.


  1. I HATE the one-word title trend. It works if the one word is unique enough, but in most cases, it makes the book sound generic and indistinguishable from hundreds of other books with similar one-word titles.

    I really like THERE IS NO DAWN but I'm also not a teenager. DIMINISHED is good, too. It's not too generic (by which I mean, it's not trying too hard to be mysterious or gothic) although it doesn't stand out quite as much as your original title.

    I'm not a huge fan of "Reaching for Dawn." It sounds really cheesy. But then again, I'm not a PNR reader, so don't listen to me.

    You mentioned you were self-publishing, right? You could release the book with one title, and if it doesn't sell much, you could probably re-release it with the other title a couple months later. Also, I think there's an #indiechat on Twitter once a week, so you could probably ask those people what they like better or what they think will be more successful.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Yael...this helps a ton. It's funny how much of what you stated here almost exactly reflects my own concerns (except for you said it better). Even the "Reaching for Dawn" series title--last night I told my husband I was worried about it sounding too romanc-y and cliche. Yes, my book is a PNR (a fact I only discovered, like, last week), but for the majority of the book the romance is secondary to the main story line. I might have to do your idea of releasing the book with one title, and then re-releasing it with another if title #1 doesn't work out. It's just that...I don't know...that could be very awkward. All of my family, coworkers, friends, and students would buy the book under the first title, only to have me re-release it under a different name. Changing titles would feel like my book is suffering through a mass-identity crisis, but with all these witnesses. I'd really like to get the title right the first time.

      I will definitely check out #indiechat and see if I can get more feedback--thanks for the tip!

  2. I really like your original title, but for the genre it may not be as workable as a shorter one word title. Something you've already discovered. I read YA and PNR, and don't at all mind the one word title trend. As a matter of fact, I never paid it much attention at all until you mentioned it here. I mean, books have been working with one word titles in all genres for hundreds of years (Dracula and Rebecca come to mind, but are only two of dozens of examples).

    If you were writing a mainstream or historical romance novel of any type, the current title would work beautifully. I disagree about the series name, though. I like "Reaching for Dawn" as a series title, particularly if it actually suggests what's happening in your book. I don't think it's too romance-y at all, especially as your books are romance (even if that's not the main thing).

    I also like Diminished, though only you and your editors/early readers know if that title adequately describes what's happening in your book. That's the problem with one word titles, they're very vague and so have to be pretty descriptive/specific to work. Maybe, if you don't decide to use that title, you could go with something that's a cross between one word and wordy, like a two word title (like, Hunger Games, Beautiful Creatures, New Moon, etc.).

    Finally, I don't think I would release it under one title and then re-release. You're right that it might make your book look like it's having an identity crisis. Since you're a first time publisher, you want to put forward a strong presence. The last thing you might want is to look sort of flaky (sorry!).

    My two cents. Hope it helps!

    1. YES, Kristyn, this helps immensely. Here are the main things I pulled out:

      1. There Is No Dawn is a beautiful title but has a mainstream or historical romance "sound" to it, which might not fare well in the YA market
      2. From the PNR standpoint, one-word titles aren't overly-trendy
      3. Reaching for Dawn works just fine for a series title given that it pertains directly to events from the book

      Interesting point about one-word titles having worked for hundreds of years. I never noticed! Although, I did notice the two you pointed out were both names. Today's one-word titles are almost never names...they're just words (usually adjectives or verbs), and often vague ones, like you pointed out. Unlike Dracula and Rebecca, which (imo) sound curious and beautiful.

      To give you a touch more information about the title "Diminished," my MC believes she has the power to make objects fall--a type of telekinesis, if you will. She discovers near the end of the book *small spoiler here, but this is all subplot stuff* that she's not actually "moving" objects--rather, she's absorbing their energy, "diminishing" the essence of what holds those objects together, thus bringing them down. That's where "Diminished" came from--my MCs powers, and the fact that her and the male lead face being diminished in the curse they are trapped in. But seriously, can't I just call my book Dracula? I like that SO much better.

      Reading what you said about putting out a strong presence as a new author...that really spoke to me, and I couldn't agree more. Which furthers my point that I need to get this title thing figured out, like, yesterday.

      Thanks a ton Kristyn for weighing in!

  3. I go through this madness all the freaking time. You are not crazy by yourself. ^_^
    Soo...I love DIMINISHED! I think it sounds really exciting. And I can see that word across an awesome beautiful cover. (I do equally love There Is No Dawn, but I did just turn 30, so...yep. Lol!)

    When you said "The Reaching for Dawn" series, I didn't think that was very exciting, but I really like "Diminished: A Reaching for Dawn Novel." So, after seeing that, I really like Reaching for Dawn. Not as much as There Is No Dawn (and I see why you love that because OMGs I love it, too), but your explanation is so spot on, so I totally see why you want to change everything.

    I didn't notice the one word title thing until you mentioned either. I have quite a few one word YA titles on my shelf, but I have a few two and three titles, too. In any case...maybe you can save There Is No Dawn for another novel?

    And OMG, I love that line from your story. "There will be no midnight. There is no dawn." *swoon*

    1. I am so infinitely relieved that I am not the only title-changing-freak out there, Krystal! ;-D

      That being said, I was so excited to read your comment. My daughter is crazy about the title "Diminished" for almost exactly the same reasons that you explained. She says it sounds exciting and interesting and "Imagine it scrawled across a dark pretty cover." So that one does seem a bit hopeful, though the verdict is still out on "Reaching for Dawn." I still think it sounds a wee bit romance-y, which is not what I'm going for. But paired with the title "Diminished," it seems to balance out a bit, so I don't know. I'm still trying to think of a way to use "There Is No Dawn" for the series title, because I really love it too. Arghhh. *headache*

      Thank you for swooning over that line--now I can thrive in the knowledge that there's at least one good line in my book. LOL

      Oh and happy belated birthday! Welcome to the world of thirties (with me, yay!), and seriously, you look SO YOUNG in your avi pics!

  4. Whatever happened to SPIRALING??? I really like that title for your story. And it's one of those one-word titles that imbibe what's going on in the book (e.g spiraling through time). That said, I prefer Diminished to There Is No Dawn. But I prefer Spiraling to all of the above.

    As for the series title, Daughters of Time would have worked best, but I think there's a novel series under that name, so maybe you could use something like: Children of Time/ Lockets of Time/ Loops of Time. Or something.

    As far as titles go, your first titles were the best! I would love it if you kept them. But again, just my two cents...

    So sorry I'm commenting so late, this month has been really hectic and borderline deranging haha. (hopefully, not anymore).

    1. I know you love SPIRALING Ify, but it's never "done it" for me. And sadly, you're right--it really does work for my story. And for the cover, as well. But I just can't connect with that title. Oh, and I pretty much decided to keep the word "time" completely out of my series title, just because of how overused time-titles are on Amazon. I want to avoid falling into cliches, and there are SO MANY books ending with "--of time".

      Thanks for your feedback, and I'm glad that you loved my original titles so much! At least I wasn't TOO far off the mark. Wish I loved them the way you do. :)

      Hope life slows down for you now!


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