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View Full Version : How do you find a title for your memoir?



aussiedee
09-26-2008, 07:51 PM
I was after some tips on how people come up with catchy titles like "look me in the eye" or "Marley and me" "Eat pray love". I have to find a title before getting a website etc and have no idea how to come up with one.

The one I want is already taken and in the same genre so I'm after any tips on how people brainstormed to come up with their titles.

Does it matter if the title is already in use? I guess it does.

Thanks in advance,
dee

jennifer75
09-26-2008, 07:54 PM
I don't know but keep this in mind, as I was told not so long ago, your title may be changed by your agent/publisher. So don't get too fond of it.

qwerty
09-26-2008, 08:25 PM
Does it matter if the title is already in use?

There's no copyright on titles, but I think it matters in that something original is best.

I often think coming up with a title is nearly as hard as writing the story, but, as Jennifer said, agents and/or publishers are prone to changing titles anyway. And they are likely to suggest what thay think works.

If you give an idea of what your book is about, someone may be able to suggest a catchy title for use on your web site.

MarkEsq
09-26-2008, 08:57 PM
There's no copyright on titles, but I think it matters in that something original is best.

I often think coming up with a title is nearly as hard as writing the story, but, as Jennifer said, agents and/or publishers are prone to changing titles anyway. And they are likely to suggest what thay think works.

If you give an idea of what your book is about, someone may be able to suggest a catchy title for use on your web site.


My book is about a maverick FBI agent. At his retirement party, a senior agent gave a speech and called him "the last of the wild men." Guess what my title is. :)

aussiedee
09-26-2008, 09:17 PM
Thanks to you all for your great advice.

My memoir is about grief and learning to live again. My only sister, mother and 4 year old daughter all died within 3 years and from different causes and it is about that journey and how I learned to live again.

I don't want a boring title like "love and loss" or something like that. I wanted "The moon is broken" but thats already taken...the other one I thought of was "The grief balloon", but thought that might be a bit chiched...thanks in advance for any suggestions.
dee

qwerty
09-26-2008, 11:11 PM
Aussiedee, that's a tough one, but all power to you for dealing with it and passing your memoir on.

Love Lives On

Memories Sustain

If I think of anything else I'll let you know.

aussiedee
09-26-2008, 11:49 PM
thanks qwerty...i like the memories sustain!

I have just thought of The monarch and the moon (was something my 4 year old daughter said which holds significance to the title) or Butterflies and Broken Moons.
Thanks also for your encouragment and support...if you think of any others please post. Ta...dee

Ritergal
09-27-2008, 06:31 PM
On my two traditionally published books, the publisher changed the title of the first ("Taming the Monster Meeting" became "MEETINGS: Do's, Don'ts and Donuts") and kept the second ("The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing"). Both books have gotten piles of spontaneous comments along the lines of "Great title!" It does help.

If you want an idea springboard, try going to http://www.worldcat.org and do a search of books for "memoir." You'll get tens of thousands of hits. Worldcat is primarily intended to help people locate books for interlibrary loan, and it scans the catalogues of nearly all public libraries of any significant size in the USA and many other countries as well, so you can see how many libraries own a title you are interested in. I've whiled away lots and lots of hours browsing WorldCat!

Have fun with it!

Prevostprincess
10-19-2008, 12:15 AM
I would suggest that you do your website with your name as the URL, since, as others have said, titles are so very often changed by the publisher. At this stage, you just want the website mainly to show a potential agent/publisher anyway. You can always add the URL of your title later, when you have it (or have been given it). Don't stress too much about the book title - it's not worth it. (And, it doesn't matter if the title's already been used - as long as it's not by a well-known book!)

Ritergal
10-19-2008, 04:13 PM
Another advantage of using your name as your main URL is that you may do more than one book! I have three listed on SharonLippincott.com, and continue to build the site to provide additional information about writing and to promote the services that comprise the platform of my main book. Over time it will evolve into new areas.

Laurel Crowned
10-22-2008, 07:13 AM
I agree with the folks who said don't sweat the title. I just went to the Maui Writers Conference and one of the speakers (an editor from a major house) said that we shouldn't get too attached to our title because that's the first thing she blows out of the water. I ended up changing my title during her seminar and that made a huge difference when I consulted with two other editors.

Also, using your name or your pen name for a URL just makes sense. If you want to check if the domain names you want are taken go to godaddy.com and they will tell you instantly if the name you want is taken for .com, .org, and a whole bunch of other .whatevers.

Ritergal
10-22-2008, 07:44 PM
Another way to check domains is to just type in the URL you want and see where it goes.

Lavinia
11-11-2008, 05:42 AM
My original title was "The Notebook." Then, dang it, Nicholas Sparks stole it...LOL. My whole memoir was based on that. The "notebook" in my case was what held the letters my father wrote during WWII to his parents. It was the catalyst for the whole book. I had no idea what to name my book after that. I never sat down wracking my brain for a new title, it just came to me slowly.

"Breaking the Code-A Daughter's Journey" is what came to me. The first part has a double meaning; I was breaking the code of understanding my father and it is what he did during WWII. And the second part is because it was truly a journey, and also because I didn't want people picking it up thinking it was a sort of "Codebreakers" like the Native American codebreakers. ~K

benbradley
11-11-2008, 06:49 AM
I was after some tips on how people come up with catchy titles like "look me in the eye" or "Marley and me" "Eat pray love". I have to find a title before getting a website etc and have no idea how to come up with one.

The one I want is already taken and in the same genre so I'm after any tips on how people brainstormed to come up with their titles.

Does it matter if the title is already in use? I guess it does.

Thanks in advance,
dee
I get the feeling an editor might be thinking of that when reading the manuscript, and pick out a title from a sentence or a few words that occur in it.

The "Eat Pray Love" thing got the three-action phrase idea going in my head. My title could be "Sit Down, Shut Up, and Listen."

DDDeloris
11-21-2008, 09:27 AM
I think usually titles for memoirs come from important moments in the story. If I wrote a memoir, my title would be "My Name is Not Wyoming", because of something that happened to me when I was a kid (it wasnt bad, it was actually funny). So think of something hidden in the story that people would notice, like the name of a street, or a present that you kept your entire life, and people will realize why you chose that name.

SusanH
11-24-2008, 02:31 AM
I can't tell you how many times I changed the name of my memoir and as I was polishing it, I realized how clueless I was in my life...hence " Surviving Life without a Clue'....now if an editor doesn't change it I'll be happy....not as happy as getting an agent, but pretty darn close.....

BrittaMoline
03-01-2009, 11:16 PM
I have just thought of The monarch and the moon (was something my 4 year old daughter said which holds significance to the title)

I just want to throw in my opinion. The Monarch and the Moon is probably the best title you've listed so far. It has rhythm and is evocative. Keep that one on the table, for sure.

Good luck!

SusanH
03-02-2009, 07:07 AM
I got to many rejections on my title alone so once again I have changed it and I like it much better....whadda ya'll think? 'SURVIVING LIFE WITHOUT A CLUE' to 'WANDERING CLUELESS THROUGH LIFE'

blade
03-12-2009, 06:48 PM
My title, luckily, with a little play on words fits exactly. The book is called 'Sharpe as a Blade' my sir-name is Sharpe, The central theme of the book focuses on the football team i followed Sheffield United, nicknamed 'The Blades' every Sheffield United fan is known as a 'Blade'.

benbradley
03-12-2009, 09:14 PM
I got to many rejections on my title alone so once again I have changed it and I like it much better....whadda ya'll think? 'SURVIVING LIFE WITHOUT A CLUE' to 'WANDERING CLUELESS THROUGH LIFE'
I'm thinking those are a little longish and you should try for fewer syllables - along the lines of your titles, maybe "Clueless Survivor" or "Clueless Wanderer." Or "Clueless in Life," or even "Clueless in Coopersville" (or some appropriate city or place name starting with a hard C) as an alliterative takeoff of "Sleepless in Seattle." :)

My title, luckily, with a little play on words fits exactly. The book is called 'Sharpe as a Blade' my sir-name is Sharpe, The central theme of the book focuses on the football team i followed Sheffield United, nicknamed 'The Blades' every Sheffield United fan is known as a 'Blade'.
That's a neat title!

aussiedee
03-19-2009, 12:26 AM
Thanks to you all that have suggested ideas and also commented...came up with a new one today which is "Mending the Moon" "Not Me" or "The balloon box". I thought about what some of you said regarding finding the title in the story and I think The Moon or Balloons have significance because of something my four year old daughter said...also we realese balloons on her birthday. Which one is best do you think? thanks again dee

REMLIG
04-13-2011, 06:05 AM
My title came from something a witness said while giving testimony in a legal case, it sums up what my memoir is about.

But, from what I have heard from editors most of the time the agent or publisher changes it to something else.

PinkAmy
04-13-2011, 02:30 PM
REmlig-- check the date before reponding to posts- this one hasn't been touched in over a year, the writer probably found a title or moved on by now.