How important is the title of your book?

By Greg Turnquist

Greg L. Turnquist worked on the Spring team for over thirteen years and is a senior staff technical content engineer at Cockroach Labs. He was the lead for Spring Data JPA and Spring Web Services. He wrote Packt's best-selling title, Learning Spring Boot 2.0 2nd Edition, and its 3rd Edition follow-up along many others.

January 29, 2014

I have found titles the first step in my desire of whether or not to read a particular book. It isn’t the whole choice, but I can remember strong titles like “Foundation” and “Dune”. I came to the Jack Reacher series by way of the movie, so the title had less impact on me there. Nonetheless, I’m not the only one saying this.

It’s the reason I have latched onto Darklight as the title of my first book. The word sounds strange and intriguing, and a bit like an oxymoron. It also seems to inviting a potential reader to open the book and found out WHAT that means.

When I finished Darklight and sent it out to my beta readers, I began forming thoughts about a sequel. At the time I started Darklight, I had the vision of a world with some characters sprinkled in it. By the end, my focus had strongly shifted towards the characters. I realized that investing in characters was way more important to myself and my readers than the backdrop where they would interact.

And one character in particular began to stand out as the pivotal one. This was evident as I hammered out the beat sheet. Naturally, this character is the one to start in the sequel. And I can easily envision a whole series of books with this character having to face new struggles.

So what would I call my second book? I was attracted to the idea of having a recurrent theme across the books, but frankly it didn’t seem to fit the bill. What I have observed is that I’m not writing multiple books chaining together episodes of one story. Instead, it’s like each book is a different adventure. The Jack Reacher series has completely different titles, so I basically set that presumption aside and focused on the one-sentence summary for my second work and came up with Neophyte. I think it summarizes the circumstances my character is having to deal with. And also the potential ramifications that will have for others.

The other tasks before me, after having just drafted the hook, is to work on the beat sheet and also draw up more details of each character. I want good, solid characters. Because then the scenes begin to write themselves. Having a good, strong design for my story will make it easier to share it with others.

Happy writing.!


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