A Messy Art Form
Oh, girlfriend. You asked which is our favorite -- and now you've opened Pandora's Box!
I like "One Stroke at a Time" -- because, romance. But, stroke got me thinking about touch, and my brain went to "The Finishing Touch," and half a dozen others. I actually LOVE coming up with titles. That is not to say I'm good at it, but I have fun with it.
I would recommend against naming any summer romance "Catching a Crab," because for a select few, that will most definitely translate into one of your characters coming down with an STD. Haha! No.
I found myself getting lost in the story about the two rowers. Sounded interesting! (oh and I think "Gold Medal Summer" is amazing)
Regarding Titles, I named my substack "Find Meaning in Adversity", which is also what I will name my future memoirs and I feel it strikes the right compromise between descriptive, action-oriented, and what the book is about. (Note: Please if anyone has suggestions on this title, I'm open!) It was a bit of a challenge to come up with, but now that I've stuck with it for a couple months I actually really like it.
A good example of what your fictional rowing romance is trying to do, is the book about witches who play field hockey WE RIDE UPON STICKS by Quan Barry, which immediately made me buy it for my field hockey-playing daughter. And now I'm going to obsess over a good title for this book that isn't too cheesy like YOU OAR ME or too double entendre or both, such as ROW YOUR BOAT TO MY SHORE.
Nonfiction has different rules, imho. The title should have 1-3 main words that encapsulate, even if imagistically, the thrust of the book--whether we're talking a fluffy book like THE TIPPING POINT or something heavy like CAPITALISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY--while the subtitle should indicate who the book is for and what recognized problem or interest it serves. The ideal model for me is Richard Reeves'S DREAM HOARDERS: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It. I asked him how he came up with that and he said he didn't; his editor asked him for a description of the book, that's what he sent him, and next thing he knew it was on the cover. You can, I would say, leave out the "what to do about it" because that's understood.
I think it has to be something about head race vs. heart...
"If it's a romance with competitive rowing on the side " Rival Love" possibly, if it's about what it takes to win beyond the love "Finding Gold" maybe
Great list but not enough "oar" puns... like "Win Oar Lose"
My upcoming novel had a singular title all during the writing. Every draft. Every change. The title accompanied the progress of the work. My publisher bought it, that's what we called it. He was fine with the title. Then he sent me an email: a writer (who happens to live in my neighborhood!) was coming out with a book (let's say two seasons before mine) and with the same title. And VERY superficially, the set up of the book was....similar. So that was that. Since the title was also a family name if I was going to maintain the idea behind the title, I would have to change the family name as well. And that was when I learned to stop caring so much about the title of a book. Until that moment where I will have to, I suppose.
SMH fiction clearly needs more puns because my brain immediately went to "row-vals to lovers" and from there to "rivals to rowers."
After a year of sitting with a working title, I finally came out with "the one" for my WiP a few weeks ago. It's perfect in so many ways (so many) but I'm also dreading the day I'm told a novel called "The Dauntless and The Damned" can't go on a YA shelf because 🤬🙊. (There are worse problems to have though, right? Like landing an agent?)
I HATE titles. I'm querying right now and all I can think is "what if the agent rejects me just because they don't like my title?"
For all of my books, I'm trying to use a song title that has a similar theme. For my first, Friends In Low Places fit perfectly. For my baseball novel, Lose Yourself, acts as a theme and the walk-up music for the main character. We'll see what others come around! I love your ideas!
I'd like to comment that of your title list, the one that both sparked me and struck me as most reader-friendly title is 'Love Along the River' – from my journalistic background (I frequently write headlines), I understand that a headline has to include some clue for a reader as to the subject / import of what follows; being that it's a romance, it seems the title needs to tell romance readers that in order for them to pick up the book, ego 'love' is a clue. It also has an intriguingly poetic sound.
I am having my own struggles in coming up with potential titles for my current WIP, an historical fiction novel (potential trilogy) set in early Edo-era Japan – it's essentially a cross-cultural love story (though not a romance per se, in terms of its ending) set against the backdrop of the Shimabara Rebellion, institution of sakoku policies (closure of Japan to all but the Dutch and Chinese through the tiny portal at Dejima). The working title for this three-part WIP is simply 'Netsuke', since that is what inspired it; however, as I'd like to allude to Japan, plus the love angle and the samurai warriors who fought on both sides of the conflict, I am playing with using fireflies in the title, since this symbolises both passionate love and fallen soldiers in a Japanese context. Haven't quite cracked it yet, and this only really applies to part/book 2, so have a few others to come up with if it morphs into a trilogy.
Anyway, that's my two bits! Hope you get a winning title in the end.
I'm with you––I love working on titles. It's kind of like a puzzle to figure out what handful of words can convey what the book is about and sound interesting to potential readers. It's fun when you come up with a few that sound great and then choosing between the top picks are painful.
Titles are so hard! I’ve had some books that required lengthy, tedious, painful retitling phases... and then some of my books published with the same working title I slapped on the very first document/draft.
I like the sentiment that there are no perfect titles. Kinda like covers. It’s a marketing component, one you use to (hopefully) appeal to the right readers.
I started a serial novel and used a title I chose years ago: THE SHIELD OF LOCKSLEY. It's a story that takes place "In the Days of King Arthur." But I don't like the title. I've been trying to think of a new one. I like, THE BEGGAR'S KNAVE, because the character is the nephew of a knight they call THE BEGGAR KNIGHT, so The Beggar's Knave seemed like a nice fit. I haven't changed it yet on my page. It's here if someone wants to look at it and make a suggestion. https://benwoestenburg.substack.com/p/the-shield-of-locksley
I market movies for a living (trailers, posters, TV and social) and am frequently hired to retitle them. Marketing is top of mind for many studios who want the title to be memorable, short, and begin with an early letter in the alphabet - or better yet - a number, so that it will appear first on streaming lists. I wonder if there are similar considerations for books?
Titles are traumatic. I can write a solid 3000 word piece in my field of interest in an hour or two, on a plane balancing a drink on the tray that refuses to lie flat, even while not quite resisting the lure of the latest K-Pop. It needs a title? I’m going to need a 3 month lead time. Minimum. I’d love a post about the dreaded colon in NF work. We all know how overused the basic formula of “ X (and/or) Y: the blah blah blah of blah blah” is but we cannot stop ourselves. It’s kind of doable for a paper or essay or other short work, but for a book it’s getting hard to know if the working title that works for me is just not going to work for others. Just a workshop it / ask around thing? Suck it up thing? Keep refreshing that drink thing?