Saturday, 31 March 2012

Creating a Book Title

A book title needs to be eye catching and thought provoking enough to make the potential reader want to take it from the bookseller’s shelf for a browse, or in the digital world, go to the product description and free read section on Amazon.                                   
     Of course it’s difficult to encapsulate much in the smallest of synopses that is the title. In the few words available, the writer is trying to distil down the essence of the book to a stand-alone statement that can represent the work; no easy task.
     It helps if the book covers a specific event or is a biography. In these cases the titles normally select themselves. The same applies to a poem or a song where the writer probably starts with a title. Most novels however are completely fictitious and the writer often has no idea at the outset how the story will evolve, so picking a title up front might just be work in progress.
       My first novel is based on a fairly simple premise. A Stuart family, who claim royal descent from Bonnie Prince Charlie, try to get their charismatic young scion onto the throne of a newly independent Scotland, displacing the Hanoverians who usurped them more than three hundred years ago.
     Restoration is therefore a legitimate title, either alone or combined with Stuart. However there are already a few books with the title, Restoration. Stepping back from restoration, the Stuarts are trying to make a comeback, so titles like The Comeback King suggest themselves, although after three hundred years the idea of a comeback might seem trite.
     I ran for a long time with, The Next King of Scotland, as a working title since that is the ultimate point of the story. There was always the risk of confusion with Giles Foden’s, Last King of Scotland, covering the tyranny of Idi Amin through the eyes of a Scottish doctor. In the end I thought it a bit too close and settled finally on, The Stuart Agenda, which added an appropriate conspiratorial note to the family name.

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder, published by Willow Moon. E-book at, and Barnes and Noble. Paperback at

1 comment:

  1. Coming up with titles is hard...but I like yours. I also liked "The Next King of Scotland",too. I wish you all the success in the world.