Just how important is a title? Can a good novel with a bad title still become a success? Can a bad novel with a good title still earn a writer a living?
The title is often the very first thing we see of a book, coupled with its binding display or even the cover if the novel is turned to face outward at the bookstore or library. It has to be eye-catching, and has to be appealing to our target audience, which means it has to fit the genre of the novel.
Keeping all of these things in mind, I’ve struggled to come up with a title for my newest story, the modern fantasy I’ve been writing about here. How do you capture the spirit of a modern fantasy without making it sound cheesy?
I’ve thrown a lot of titles around in my head, asked others for opinions on some of them. For a while the contender was something like “The Guardians of the Barrier” Or “The Sentinels of Magic”, referring specifically to the group that protects the Barrier that blocks all magic on Earth. I’ve even tried to come up with a good title that reflects the three protagonists, but nothing sounded right to me.
This struggle to find a title quickly became frustrating. Finally I ended up spending a couple of hours just sitting down trying to find a title. I looked up synonyms for various words, like Sentinel or Guardians, or Barrier. I had a list of words on a word document and tried to figure out how to put them together into a coherent and fitting title.
Of course, one of the things to consider is whether or not there’s a novel or series out there already using a title, and this was another roadblock I ran into. I thought I had come up with the perfect title, and found that there were no fantasy novels by that name. Then when I did just a general search for the title, I found there was a science fiction that used the title I had come up with.
What finally helped me figure it out was by analyzing the warriors who protect the Barrier, who stand watch over Earth and protect humanity from the strange creatures that fall through the cracks. Originally I called them the Guardians, but I realized a more fitting title for this group was Sentinel, which was a name I had considered using earlier.
And so I’m excited to announce that I finally have a title for my new project!!
The Chronicles of the Sentinels
This will be the primary title for each novel in the series, while I’ll also have a subtitle for each one, similar to the novels I’m trying to find an agent for now, The Sword of Dragons (book 1 has no subtitle, while book 2 has the subtitle “Burning Skies”).
I don’t know what the subtitle for the first Chronicles book will be (one thing at a time!) but I’m glad I now have a specific title for this project and don’t have to refer to it as “that modern fantasy story” anymore :)
Let me know what you all think! Love it? Hate it? I love hearing from you all!