Working title: How to find the right title for your book

Alternative title: How do you find the right title for your book?

My upcoming novel has had a lot of terrible titles: Academic Year. Tardy. Waiting for September. And, perhaps the most terrible: Lingering in Fiction, which sounds like a book about meeting a special someone in a bookstore or library. Neither of which are bad places to meet someone, just not something that is representative of this story.

No, really, how to you find the perfect title for your book?

Photo of books by Caitlin Moran and Rachel Dratch

A care package I received, filled with good titles.

WikiHow can tell you in five steps.

The fifth step: Keep in mind that titles may be changed by the editor. However, since I’m keeping expenses low I’m not planning on working with an editor. That means, I can pick exactly the title I want.

That kind of creative control is exciting and daunting. So, in a pickle, I turned to my advisory board (friends).

Borrow from nursery rhymes

The best advice I got was from my friend Marya who said to borrow from songwriters and think about nursery rhymes. This was especially exciting advice since my protagonist is a lost, even tumbling if you will, woman named Jill. So I got excited.

Came Tumbling After, was my novel’s title for a day in my head, until I thought of If You Have to Ask. Explaining why I think this title is a great fit will give away too much. So, after you’ve read it, let me know what you think.

The best article I read on choosing a title, by a million miles, is by Scott Berkun (even though it’s arguably non-fiction minded).

There is also a thing called the Lulu Titlescorer, which I haven’t tried. Have you? It seems too easy for something that’s so hard.

How do you come up with titles for things?