Don’t Judge a Book by its…Title?

Don’t Judge a Book by its…Title?

I started my writing career with fantasy books.  I still love writing fantasy, by the way–but I love paranormal romance, too, so here I am with an October Nocturne release.

When I wrote fantasy, I pondered my titles long and hard.  I often chose them before writing the book, and made sure they gave an extra little punch to the impact of the book as a whole.  If I chose them after writing the book, I went back through to strengthen the significance of the title within the story.

I started writing romance with the Bombshell line, which I love, love LOVED.  On the occasion that my editor and I brainstormed a title, it was because of my work within a continuity series.  Otherwise, my titles pretty much stayed as they were.

But times change, and the industry changes, and logistics change, and at this point my title process isn’t quite in sync; I’ve learned to hold back on my title-related story threads, because if the title is changed, they’re just out there…hanging.

For instance, the first book in the Demon Blade series was simply that: Demon Blade.  I liked it because I felt it explicated the story (y’know…there’s a blade, and it’s kinda demonic, and since it’s in the title of the book we can pretty much figure that our heroes will have to deal with it).

But it was, admittedly, not a sexy title for what is (I hope!) a sexy sort of book.  So the book became Taming the Demon, which is strictly accurate (the demon in question, again, being in the blade) but…kinda implies that the demon is in fact the hero of the book.
I wasn’t truly easy with this because of my own personal tastes, which don’t run to demonic heroes.

The second book of this series had what I would call a working title: Dark Blade.  Definitely not really sexy, and I figured it would get retooled.  That book is a now brand new release: Claimed by the Demon.  That’s a lot more sexy than Dark Blade, and it’s sort of accurate, but it also more than implies the hero of the book is a demon.

Again, I find myself squirming a little.  Because the hero of this book, as with the first, is locked in a battle with a demonic blade in search of redemption.  With redemption, the demonic entity gains freedom–and only the blade wielder, through heroic acts performed in tandem with the blade, can earn that redemption.

The problem is, the demonic entity is what it is.  Even as it leads its wielder–our hero!–forth to do battle on the side of Right, it fights an insidious battle to gain control of the wielder.  So our hero is fighting the bad guys, and he’s fighting the blade, and he often isn’t quite sure who’s winning on what front.  (No little wonder it takes a strong heroine to balance all THAT!)

But he’s not a demon.  He’s never a demon.  He’s not even close to a demon.

I find that it bothers me, the way the titles don’t accurately reflect the nature of those heroes.

It probably bothers me more so because of those personal tastes of mine.  If I was scanning titles while on a book hunt, I probably wouldn’t crack the covers on my own books. 

But I’m not Miss Marketing Maven.  I don’t know the industry the way a publisher does.  I could and probably am worried about nothing.  (I could say “hot and bothered” about nothing, but since one of the purposes of a nice steamy paranormal romance is to create hot and bothered, I probably shouldn’t go there.)

But of course I worry.  So what do you think? (The internet knows everything, right?)  Do the titles make my heroes sound like the demonic ones?  

And…does it matter?


  1. Hi Doranna… I have to say by the title I would think the hero is a demon. Sort of hard to make those two things (hero and demon) combine in my head. But, on the good side I would pick it up to see how the author (you) could possibly make it work.

    As an avid book reader, the title and cover are just as important as the blurb when I select a book by an author new to me.
    Julie O

  2. Hi, Julie–and whew, thanks for that reassurance about “on the good side…”

    I feel the same way you do about the title and the cover of a book. Then comes blurb, then comes sample… Maybe this is why authors do fret so much about elements that feel out of our control. Doesn’t mean we’d do those things any better, of course–!

    Thanks for weighing in!

  3. I like pretty much direct titles, as I do judge a book at times based on that alone. But I always hope the books does well to elaborate on it, I mean that’s the point right? I don’t pay too much attention to the cover art, the title is what I really seek out. I picked up one the other day based on it’s title, Dark Canvas. It’s about a painter who does memorial portraits by mixing the deceased persons ashes into her paints. The title got me, then I let the book get me and it;s awesome, I recommend completely., it’s by Jody Summers. Glad I judged this one by it’s cover!