November 14, 2017

A Trip through Titles

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

From time to time, I enjoy browsing through the latest book titles to observe current trends in titling. This time around, I thought it would be timely to focus on the 158 books that appear in the brand new 2017 Southern Writers Holiday Catalog.  

Often, I break titles down into about four categories. For this exercise I chose seven categories, to get even more specific but also because it makes for a colorful pie chart.

As is often the case, the titles chosen by most authors (54 in this case) come under a non-specific GENERAL category. These are books that give a sense of what's inside without giving too much away, yet still establish the right mood. Here are just a few examples.

A SITUATION is implied in the second most popular category. We learn just from the title such things as that a murder has taken place or that Cupid will be flinging some arrows.

Then you have titles that are poetic or ambiguous and evoke curiosity. They sound thoughtful and erudite, in the order of Gone with the Wind or Of Mice and Men.  Let's call these SYMBOLIC.

The MAIN CHARACTER can be identified by name or by their role in the story, sometimes suggesting the plot.

Or the title can get SPECIFIC about an important object or setting in the story.

There are, of course, NONFICTION titles that speak to the purpose of the book.

And a title can also be a STATEMENT unto itself.

Clearly, there are many roads that can be taken when coming up with a title for your book. The most important thing is to make sure your title is different from other books already out there and that it conveys something, preferably something that will grab attention and interest your potential reader enough to buy it.

If you enjoy browsing titles as much as I do, you'll enjoy thumbing through all 158 in the 2017 Holiday Catalog, which you can do right now by clicking on the cover to the right, or by visiting

Happy holidays and happy reading!

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