The Book Identity

Have you ever considered how authors come up with book titles? Perhaps you have thought of a great title yourself and wondered if there is a book out there with that very name. With around 135 million books in the world, there is a high probability.  That’s why finding the right title can be a real challenge for authors.

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If you have ever forgotten what a book you wanted to buy is called, and tried to look it up online from the part you remember, you will know what I mean. I use plays on book titles for my blog post titles and you would be amazed how many similar options come up when I search for them. 

Try looking up books including phrases like ‘the girl’ or ‘starting over’ in their titles. You could be there all day!

For copyright purposes, the identity of a book is a combination of both the title and the author name, which is why there are many books that share a title or have very similar titles. If no two books could be called the same thing, there would be a lot of books with titles that have no clear link to their content.


Authors generally try to avoid giving a book the same name as another in their genre. But even this can be difficult because a good title will suggest to the potential reader what type of book it is. In other words, the title should indicate the genre. That’s why there are so many murder mysteries with the words ‘murder’ or ‘death’ in the title.


The title also needs to be suitable for the age range of the primary audience. Books for younger readers must take into account their smaller vocabulary and that goes for the title, too. It’s OK to include in the text a few words the reader will have to look up but they must understand the title or they are not even going to pick the book up.


The range of countries the book will be available in matters too because of language differences. There are words in English (UK) that aren’t generally used in English (US), and vice versa. Every country seems to have a few of their own words that aren’t widely used anywhere else. Putting them on a book cover could discourage a lot of potential readers.

I write a mystery series about finding lost things, aimed at readers aged 11 and over. My book titles all start with ‘The Lost…’ At first glance, this seems well suited for the mystery genre and simple enough to entice younger readers, plus those words are not specific to English (UK).

But there are words that can be added to that phrase which will turn it into something else entirely. The Lost World, for example. Or The Lost Love Letter. Even with a good start, coming up with a great title requires a lot of thought.

The Big Reveal

So it’s time for my title reveal! My next book will be called The Lost Cargo. What do you think?

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