Selecting a title with mass appeal
by Patrick Hodges
I have been working feverishly over the last month finishing up the rough draft for my second book, which I have tentatively called Kelsey’s Crush. But the more I think about it, the more I think there’s a better title out there, as this title would seem to appeal mostly to teenage girls. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think my story, much like Joshua’s Island, has appeal for a wider audience than that.
I would very much like to keep the second title somewhat parallel to Joshua’s Island, by having the main character’s name in the title. The main character is Kelsey, the daughter of a single dad who is also a detective, and who aspires to be a detective herself (her hero, apart from her dad, is Sherlock Holmes). But the biggest mystery in her young life appears in the form of Ethan, a boy who appears in her algebra class on the first day of eighth grade. He has spiky hair and dresses in all-black clothes, and she is instantly drawn to him, especially after she discovers that he doesn’t act at all like the bad boy he appears to be.
As she “investigates” him, she finds herself becoming friends with him, but he harbors a secret that he cannot tell her, a secret that involves his younger brother, his father, and the entirety of his life. He is just as fascinated by Kelsey as she is with him, but events in the adult world will conspire to tear them apart, just as they realize the true depths of their friendship.
I’ve thought about Kelsey’s Crush, along with Kelsey’s Case, Kelsey’s Conundrum, Kelsey’s Mystery, and even Ethan’s Secret. Obviously, choosing the right title is extremely important. And I realize that I am, perhaps, the last person who should be determining the title, at least from a marketing standpoint. I am hoping that by the time the editing is done, I’ll have a cover with the final title printed firmly on it.
Wish me luck, everyone!
Patrick Hodges lives in Arizona with his wife of fourteen years, Vaneza. After doing weekly columns for entertainment-related websites, he has turned his attention to writing fiction. He is passionate about sending positive messages to young people. Joshua’s Island is his first novel. A sequel is in the works. You may reach him at email@example.com or “like” him on Facebook.
You’ll get it, Patrick. It will come to you.
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I struggle with coming up with catchy titles, too. Kelsey’s Crush isn’t a bad one, although it sounds like it wouldn’t really convey what your book is about. Ethan’s Secret sounds very mysterious and intriguing!
The more I’m thinking it over, the more I like Ethan’s Secret. He is still a main character, just as Eve was a main character in Joshua’s Island.
‘Elementary my dear Kelsey’
A good post Patrick and lest I forget before the end of my comment – lose the Kelsey’s Crush idea. Even if I saw that title with Robert Louis Stevenson written as the author I wouldn’t touch it.
Okay, I’m a Brit, but take it from somebody who ends up with several titles even when it comes to a short story – you’ll know the right title when you get the main job done. I have Joshua’s Island on my Kindle, but I haven’t read it yet. Now that title appealed to me instantly.
If you find yourself stuck, throw a handful of contending titles onto a thread on the IARE and we’ll have it sorted for you within 24 hours.:)