What’s In a Name?

Kate Flora: I’ve been spending a lot of time lately on Facebook and thumbing through

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

books–Shakespeare, Barlett’s Familiar Quotations, and books of poetry. Why? Because I have a new book–dark police procedural with a brand new protagonist who goes up against a brutal serial killer–and the book needs a name. The working title, Gutteddoes not please the powers that be.

From the outside, choosing a title for book seems easy. Just figure out what the book is about and then choose a title that matches, right? Not so fast. Sometimes editors and agents don’t like the ones we choose. Sometimes, the zeitgeist being what it is, we pick a title that a lot of other writers have already used. It turns out there is no copyright in titles.

Katherine Clark - Kate Flora - Steal Away - Cover 1Once, years ago, I wrote a stand-alone suspense novel under the pseudonym Katharine Clark. The working title of the book, with deals with a kidnapped child, was The Stolen Childa title I’d taken from a Yeat’s poem. Alas, my editor didn’t like it. So I sat down with the above-mentioned tools and made a list of about thirty other possible titles and sent them to my editor. I waited. She called me and said she didn’t like any of them. I was standing by the phone, utterly discouraged, when my then-thirteen-year-old son Max walked by. “Mom,” he said. “You look unhappy. What’s the matter?” So I told him the story of the thirty rejected titles. “Oh, just call it Steal Away,” he said, and walked away. The editor loved that and the book became Steal Away.

Another time, the fifth book in my Thea Kozak series, titled Death in Paradisecame outcover-4 at the same time that another, more famous author published a book by the same title.

The books in my Burgess series have titles with religious resonance: Playing God, The Angel of Knowlton Park, Redemption, And Grant You Peace, and Led Astray. In my Thea Kozak series, each one has death in the title. Now I am waiting for inspiration, and those powers that be, to respond to this list of possible titles. What do you think, dear reader? Do any of them resonate with you? What if the book becomes part of a series? Does that make a difference? Does these inspire you to suggest new possibilities?

Possible Titles for Gutted:

Picking Up The Pieces

Her Worst Fears

The Homicide Diet

Twisted Justice

Bad Choices

Love You to Pieces

Pieces of You

A Puzzle in Pieces

Piecing It Together

Cutting Edge

The Butcher’s Tale

A Slice of Death

Another Kind of Justice

Courting Death

Severed Ties

Dark Inheritance

Dark and Bloody Ground

Darkness Upon You

Shadow of Death

Darkness Falls

Chasing a Shadow

Guardians in Darkness

Led Away to Death

Days of Danger

Suspected No Danger

Dangerous Edge

Cold Hand of Death

The Face of Death

Death’s Disguise

Gone to Her Death

Mister Death

Hunter in the Dark

Gone A’Hunting

Borrower of the Night

To Spite the World

No Cure for Death

Death Has His Day

Evil Days

In An Evil Hour

Chasing the Beast

Knives that Serve or Cut

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11 Responses to What’s In a Name?

  1. Knives that Serve or Cut is edgy and there are interesting possibilities lurking behind it.

  2. No Reasonable Man (or Woman)
    No Reason

  3. Monica says:

    I like several of them. (But none of the ones that imply the slicing and dicing of the bodies that seems to be the killer’s method.)
    In an Evil Hour
    Dark Inheritance
    Darkness Upon You
    Chasing the Beast
    Dangerous Edge (yes, this does imply the knife as weapon, but it’s not as gruesome)
    Chasing a Shadow
    Another Kind of Justice (if that’s what is actually happening in the book)

    If there will be more with the same characters, I’d look for a theme in the titles as you have done before.
    Thanks for explaining how you go about coming up with titles! I’m in the midst of a trilogy and don’t have titles for books 2 and 3. Now I can try to tie them together by the titles and I have some idea how to do that.

  4. Alice says:

    Peace or Pieces

  5. I enjoy sharing this process with readers, and gotten a lot of great suggestions from my friend. I may yet have to consult my son…we shall see.


  6. Friends. Not friend. My keyboard and I are currently at war!

  7. sandra says:

    the butcher’s tale

  8. judyinboston says:

    I kind of liked “In an Evil Hour,” but there were lots of good titles. I always have a problem with titles, too, , especially the last two books. Gary Goshgarian suggested Chased By Death for the last book. I had drawn a complete blank. The upcoming book was also hopeless. I had a weird techie title that no on (almost) would understand. It had a double meaning. My husband and I were looking at possible cover photos, and all of a sudden it came to me. Murder In the North Woods. What could be simpler? Raced out to Google expecting to find it. Nope, it was good. Titles are really hard and I think a good title on a good cover can help sell a book.
    How did you ever think of so many?

  9. Julianne Spreng says:

    As an avid shelf browser, I agree totally that a good title and cover can help sell a book. It gets one to stop and take a look and read the fly leaf copy. Maybe even flip a few pages.


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