WHY SOME TITLES ALMOST ALWAYS SELL WELL

For the past week, my editor and I have been mulling over title ideas for the third book in my undercover cops series. 


Killer Bunnies
We all know that titles are meant to hook readers into picking up the book. Some titles shock, others offer an intriguing play on words, some tug at our heart strings. What many readers don’t realize is that oftentimes, an author’s suggested or preferred title is not what goes on their book.

A lot of factors play into this. The publisher may have already published a book with that title—a common issue with Love Inspired since they publish so many books. Or there may be another title slotted for the same month with a word in the title common to the second author’s choice. Or perhaps, too many recent releases have already shared the word in common.

Her Only Protector
In addition to those factors, my publisher wants the title to convey what the story is about. So for example, my original title for Deep Cover was Shades of Gray. I liked this on a couple of levels, because the hero’s last name was Gray and he’s an undercover cop living different lives (shades of his life). He also must tell half truths and lies of omission to do his job—more shades of gray. And ultimately, he learns that while he may have to lie to do his job, there is no room for shades of gray in his heart. 

The problem with the title is that it didn’t convey what the story was about. 

Since no requests for new title suggestions were made for my third book at the time of contracting, I thought yay! I get to keep this title, too. The book is about an undercover cop who poses as an IT consultant in a hospital to determine if a string of mysterious deaths were murders, as an outspoken nurse insists–a nurse who soon finds herself a target.

I called it Dose of Deception, thinking that “dose” hints at the medical setting, and that “deception” hints at the role of the undercover cop and the villain. But alas…last week, I was asked to suggest alternatives.

With suspense on my mind, I proposed titles that included words like: killer, murder, lethal, mystery etc. To my surprise, I learned that books with those words in the titles don’t sell as well for Love Inspired Suspense. It made sense, once I thought about it. Readers are looking for “romantic” suspense.

Lone Defender
I, too, tend to gravitate to the titles that have words like protector or guardian or hero in them. The problem is the line has already used almost every possible combination of great hero descriptors like that. So I’m stumped…

Your turn: What key words in a “romantic suspense” title grab your attention?

7 Comments

  • This is hard.

    I do like your “Dose of Deception”

    When I think romantic, I think words that mean love passion, desire, and heat…

    cherish, appetite, craving, hunger, longing, thirst, yearn, smouldering, sizzling, kindle, ignite, fiery…

    Suspence is hard to come up with words to work with.

  • Whew! Glad it’s not just me. 😀 Add to that the parameters of Inspirational fiction in which the passion type words, as well as more graphic suspense words aren’t appropriate. We’re toying with Fatal Remedy and Critical Condition at the moment. I’m glad to hear you like Dose of Deception 😉

  • I like Dose of Deception too but your other two suggestions are good too. As a reader the title isn’t the first thing to grab me, though I do like a clever one. Especially at LI. I mean I know what to expect from a Love Inspired Suspense, so I read the blurb to decide whether I’ll buy it or not. The title doesn’t really matter. However, if it’s exceedingly embarrassing or lamely undescriptive I might shy away. Titles like ‘The Tycoons Virgin Bride” ROFL I don’t know if that’s an actual title but I know Harlequin has some like that.

  • Oh, Lisa, I’ve pulling my hair over cover art samples, too. LOL

    Your comments are reassuring Kav. I think I probably am more drawn to pick up the book by the cover art or author, but definitely the back cover blurb is the clincher.

  • Hi Jessica, they never really gave me a reason for rejecting dose of deception. I think they just didn’t find it compelling enough or perhaps they’ve had too many titles with deception in it.

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