Who would have thought the name of a series would be so difficult? A title that must encompass the entire journey of your series. It wasn’t as hard as the title, but it was pretty difficult. I had batted around several ideas…but Legend of the Liberator was perfect.
So how did I come to that conclusion? And how can you come up with your own perfect series title? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
1. Do you want Series/Chronicles/Saga/Epic in the title? I had to think long and hard about this. It really does change the way your book comes across. If you don’t care, don’t include it in your title. If you just want it “The Life of Peon Hopeless Series” then drop “series” because it is automatically added when necessary. Your book will say “The Life of Peon Hopeless, Book One: A Miserable Beginning” and it will be referenced with “series” already attached. But if you think Saga or Chronicles makes the title, then add it. Something to consider…
2.Do you want it to be simply the name of book one?
Some books don’t have a series name. Either they didn’t intend on it being a series, didn’t remember to assign a series title, or they just wanted the series to be easy to remember. If you can remember the name of book one, you can find the rest, such as *shudder* Twilight and The Hunger Games. FYI–I did some research into what people prefer it was a resounding vote for having a separate series names. It also helps search results! So it’s my conclusion to go ahead and give it an overall series name. Everything to help search results is great!
3. Do you want it to be the main name of every book with a subtitle for each new book?
This is an option I’ve seen quite a bit of. I’m not partial to it because at first glance it looks like each book has the same name and therefore, at least for me, easily skipped over as “alternate/old covers.” The exception is if you have the main title smaller, with the subtitle quite large. You’ve seen this before too, even if it wasn’t a book. Star Wars ring a bell? Each of them are Star Wars: such and such. Episode V Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, etc. It’s not called the Star Wars series. It’s have you seen Star Wars? Right? Right! But if you’ve seen the covers of these movies *gasp! VHS!* then you’ll notice the subtitle was quite large. So this is an option as well.
4. Does it summarize the theme of the book and give people an idea of larger story and what they are in for?
If my book title is “Blood that Drips” and my series title is “The Naughty Little Pixie” then people will know what the whole series is about. This is good. If it’s about a naughty little pixie and not a vicious monster, they need to know upfront lest you get a very angry customer. Likewise, if my series title was “The Success and Failure of a Huntsman” then they could assume this is a series about the follies, life lessons and little moments of joy of a simple huntsman. It sells the entire series, not just book one. If your book title failed at “Woodchips Flock Together” but they fell in love with the series title, you may have made a sale. This is another way to sell your work. Be honest and try to really summarize the whole story. Make sure you don’t lead people on with series names that evoke one thing but deliver another.
5. Do you love it as much as the title? Is it better?
You are stuck with this series name for much longer than just a book. You better absolutely adore it. You better love repeating it a million times. You better love seeing it everywhere. You better love having that associated with your name.
6. Does it go with your individual book titles?
If the title is “Blood that Drips,” perhaps a good series title is “As the World Flows” or “Blood’s Passage”. They should go hand in hand like peanut butter and honey. (Yes honey. Jam is gross.) So that way it reads “Bloods Passage , book one: Blood that Drips” and it works beautifully. Or my own example “Legend of the Liberator, book one: From the Ashes” works well because the legend, or journey, has to have a beginning. Therefore, the beginning is From the Ashes. It works. But this works because my series is literally the legend of my character so just because your book follows a character, doesn’t mean you should call it Legend of Alyssa because that just doesn’t fit.
7. Do you have the entire series mapped out?
Have the entire series mapped out. This includes all the titles as well as the whole story. If you don’t know where the story ends then you don’t know what the journey entails. If you don’t know what the books will encompass, you can’t give the entire series a name. Plan these things first!
8. Ask for feedback!
It doesn’t hurt to get input. I had to ask my editor, my husband, my cover designer, my coworkers until I could make a decision. The same with my titles for the books. A fresh eye can do wonders!
But wait, Shelby! I don’t know how to summarize my entire series into a title! Calm down, have a cookie. Here is a little exercise to get the ball rolling.
1. Summarize the entire series into a few pages.
2. Summarize those few pages into a paragraph.
3. Now summarize that paragraph into one line. I know this is going to be super hard! It’s not just taking the words and saying it in less. Notice I didn’t say “shorten/minimize,” I said summarize.
4. Now it’s really hard. Summarize that one line into 5 or less words. Can you shorten it any further? Now this isn’t your title, or maybe it is! Say your line is “Alyssa the pony’s journey to become the best horse and win the grand race.” Okay so it’s not worthy of a full series, but I couldn’t spoil my own series 😉 That could be summarized into “Alyssa strives to win.” That is not a title. Yuck. But it gives you a starting point. Change it into “Breaking the Reins.” Does that still say “Alyssa the pony’s journey to become the best horse and win the grand race?” I think it does. It summarizes her attitude, her struggle, her greatest goal and what she’ll eventually do. That was a fake book and it came pretty darn easy. It won’t always be that easy.
Do you have any tips to share? A method you use when it comes to selecting a book/series title? Need help picking one? I’d love to give my feedback, for whatever that’s worth!