Choose A Working Title
Nov 25, 2020
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Choosing a working title is a clarifying exercise that helps you define your book idea before you’ve even written a single word of your manuscript.
Some quick dos and don’ts:
- DO brainstorm your title. Try to come up with at least 15 possibilities.
- DO narrow your list to your top 5, then do some research on Amazon. Are there other books with the same title in your genre? If so, can you tweak your title to be slightly different?
- DO ask a few friends what they think about your top ideas. If there's consensus, adjust your list accordingly.
- DO choose one title to be your working title—for now :)
- DON’T get too wordy. One-word titles are super popular now. Think Untamed. Wild. Pivot. Platform. Educated. Caste.
- DON'T choose something vague or confusing. If your title doesn’t communicate something central about your book idea or story, it probably isn’t going to be effective. Or if it makes you think the book is about something it isn’t—it can confuse your reader. For example, one of the working titles of my memoir was Writing Myself Out, which I absolutely loved, but since my book wasn’t about writing and it really wasn’t about coming out either, I reluctantly ditched that awesome title.
- DON'T get too attached: your agent or editor may recommend you change your title once they're involved in your book project.
One final “Do” when thinking about your title: DO have fun! Be playful and open to the possibilities.
Choosing a working title is a great way to clarify your book idea. If you are having trouble coming up with a title or your working title is vague or confusing, it may be a signal that you still need to get clear on your book idea—on what your story or message is really about.