On Titling Manuscripts

Photo credit: sugr.stoc on Flickr
So a while ago when I asked what people would like me to blog about, someone suggested I do a post on the process for coming up with Beyond the Red's title. I thought about this for a while, and also wanted to expand it to the sequels so had to wait for that announcement to be made, and then it was, so here we are.


It's no secret than I am not a huge fan of the titling process. I've mentioned before that coming up with Beyond the Red's title was a struggle, to say the least—and one that ultimately my CP saved me from by coming up with the basis that then became Beyond the Red. I've talked about the strategy she used to help me in this vlog.

But once upon a time, Beyond the Red's first title was Slave & Sira. This was not a great title for many reasons—something I already knew when I was querying and thus was zero percent surprised when my now-agent said we'd be changing the title—not the least of which was because "Sira" is not an English word and most people have no idea what a Sira is. So. You know. That. And other things.

For a while I went back and forth with my agent and her team with different title ideas, many of which came close but didn't stick. Where the Stars Don't Reach almost became the new title until Beyond the Red won out in the end—something I'm now very happy about because I do love my title and the cover that fits it beautifully.

Despite all of my title woes, however, I found coming up with sequel titles way more enjoyable. With Beyond the Red set in stone, I had a frame to work within. I knew I wanted to continue using colors, partially to fit the frame and partially because colors actually play a decently important role in the series. From there, it was a matter of deciding what colors, and what adjectives or verbs I wanted to use, and then play around with the order while keeping in mind the overall arc for the series.

If I remember correctly, I came up with Into the Black and The Rising Gold in the same sitting—way faster than the multi-week brainstorming hell it took to come up with Beyond the Red. All in all, I'm really happy with titles I have, and while brainstorming unrelated manuscript titles still hasn't become any easier (I've been using hashtag titles like #YAFantasyWIP, #illvigilanteenbyWIP and #MagicMurderMayhem to talk about WIPs until I have a real title I use) the end result has been pretty great so far. :)

How do you come up with manuscript titles? 

Twitter-sized bites:
How do you come up with manuscript titles? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet
Author @Ava_Jae talks naming her series and the struggle of titling books. (Click to tweet)

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