posted on December 13, 2016 by Mary J. Williams

ANATOMY OF A BOOK TITLE

mary-j-williamsBefore I started writing—and after—I was always fascinated at a writer’s process of chosing the title for their book. I haven’t done an official survey, but I imagine it’s a different process for everybody. For me, the title always comes before the book itself. Sometimes it’s the starting point. A germ of an idea helped along by the image the title provides. But that doesn’t answer the question, does it? Where does the title come from? To answer that, I have to take you back to the beginning. That is, my beginning as an author.

Butcher, baker, book title maker.

I did a lot of online research before I wrote my first word.

Sidebar. A lot of my research was no help at all. In the end, I learned by doing, not by somebody else telling what worked for them. I’m not saying that a first time writer shouldn’t gather as much information as possible before setting out into this ultra-competitive business. You would be a fool not to. What I mean is, don’t think there is a magic path to success. Like with most things in life, we blaze our own trails. Sometimes we go left when we should have gone right. Sometimes we hit the jackpot the first time out (very rare, but it does happen). Almost always, you get back what you put in.

One piece of advice that stuck with me had more to do with book covers than the title. Make your book covers cohesive. A book series, for instance, should have covers that look like they belong together. It made me think about the title of the books. What could I do to make mine stand out? The answer—at least for me? All my books were originally song titles.

How did that work? I’ll take you back to my first series. It started out to be three books (there ended up being four) about three friends who grew up in a small town. Harper Falls. I knew the title of book three because it was the genesis of the series. IF YOU ONLY KNEW. It is a little-known song by Lari White that I have always loved. To keep with the theme, I chose two more song titles each starting with the word IF. IF I LOVED YOU. IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES. Book four—a Christmas novella—is IF I HAD YOU.

For me, a theme was born. Since then I have three more complete book series. You can check out my website for the rest. http://www.maryjwilliams.net/. The point is simple. I want my readers to associate one book with another. And, I have a lot of fun picking the book titles. My Hart of Rock and Roll series was interesting. All four books begin with the word FLOWERS.

I am sticking with the song title/book title idea for my next book even though it is my first book that will not be part of a series. WITH ONE MORE LOOK AT YOU. I love that title. It says so much. Emotional and provocative all at once. Thank you, Barbra Streisand.

A final note about my books. All are standalone stories. You can pick any from the series and not miss a beat. However, they are tied together by friendships and relationships. It’s fun to start at the beginning and read them in order. (Hint, hint). As for WITH ONE MORE LOOK AT YOU? In progress. Look for it at the end of February.

Happy reading, be kind and hug the ones you love.

mjw

Mary J. Williams

Mary J. Williams

It Has Always Been My Dream To Write A Book

And I always knew it would be a romance novel. When I was a teenager I assumed my book would have a historical setting, those were the kinds of stories I liked best, I even grew my hair long so I could be like the heroines in my favorite stories. But now I see myself and my books in the present dealing with the joys and sorrows of our modern world. Harper Falls is a place my imagination dreamed up, but it is based in reality. I grew up in Washington State and went to school in a small town on the Columbia River. Harper Falls is that town but an idealized version. I hope you enjoy reading about the town and the characters.

And as much as I enjoyed telling their stories, these books are not the end of my dream but the beginning.

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