Writing a killer title for your poetry book can be challenging. The title helps capture the reader’s attention. So, it contributes massively to a poetry book’s success. That’s why many poets spend more time thinking about poetry book title ideas. Some create a dozen titles for one poetry book to pick the most captivating one.
However, a book title is crucial. But it shouldn’t prevent you from writing your first poetry novel. In this post, we have outlined ways you can write killer title ideas. Keep reading to learn more!
Are Poetry Book Titles Important?
Of course, the answer is yes. Your collection’s title may be the determining factor whether your collection will become a Best Seller or not. Editor E. Haldeman, in the book ‘First Hundred Million,’ explains that changing just the book title can rocket a book from selling 6,000 copies a year to 50,000 copies a year.
In other words, the title of your collection may make or Mar your success once published. It does not necessarily mean that books that did not do well in the market were poorly titled. It could also be a result of other factors. These things happen.
Why Is The Title Important?
Your book title is your reader’s first impression. It is what people see first. It is what they will remember when they go to a bookstore to make a purchase. It is what they will recommend to others when asked for recommendations.
They say it’s the cover art that is important. While this may be true, the title is just as important. Readers may come across a title and say, ‘oh this sounds interesting, I should probably get it.’ It is why it’s essential to choose a title that is catchy enough to arouse curiosity.
Elements Of A Good Poetry Book Title
To know a good title for a collection, the title must be:
Having a unique title is one way of getting readers to buy your book. Imagine walking into a store, and you come across the title ‘At the Threshold of a sane mad man.’ You will want to find out more about the book.
Consider also titles like Zen and the moving Mountains, Forever in two seconds, etc. They are unique titles that arouse curiosity.
Unique titles capture the essence of a book without giving out what’s inside. Like the example I gave above, one can easily understand that the poet may not necessarily be insane, but a lot is going on in the poet’s head.
Arouse curiosity in a reader’s mind:
Everyone wants their work to stand out. In other to achieve this, you have to choose a title that catches people’s attention. Your title must be such that when a reader comes across it, they are tempted to find out what’s inside.
Take, for instance, Maya Angelou’s I know why the caged birds sing’. The poem in itself does not talk about birds but slavery. However, the title is enough to draw the attention of readers. Your title should be able to evoke questions of why what, or how.
Some other titles that may arouse curiosity are: When we die; why we struck; In the heart of the sea, Behind the humourless laughter; I see the questions in your eyes, etc.
Easy to remember:
Readers prefer titles they can easily refer to in their discussions. Something they can remember in a heartbeat while in conversation with others.
In trying to be unique, try not to choose a title that will confuse your readers. Sometimes long titles or strange words will be difficult to remember. Take Rupi Kaur’sMilk and Honey’ for example. It’s simple and easy to remember.
Some of the most engaging poetry titles we know today are authentic. It is because the title came naturally to the poet. Titles are a mirror into the mind and intention of a poem. Only a poet knows what influences their poetry. So when they choose a title from the heart, it is more appealing.
Things That Can Influence A Poetry Book Title
The title of the collection may be influenced by a person. In most cases, it could be the lover of a poet. Or, someone who influenced the poet. It could also be a stranger who the poet met at one time in their journey. A good example is Siren’s Secret, Mr. Bumblebee’s Gold shoe, Aurora’s Diary, and Amina Bin Hasan.
There’s no denying the power and effect certain places have over humans. You can title a collection after a place where you had so many memories. It can also have titles after a place where you found inspiration to write. There are so many reasons why this happens and is ideal.
Where your poem has strong settings, you can explore that as well. Here’s is few examples: The desert queen of Saharan Africa, Love in Vegas, A day in Ibiza; My Caribbean beauty; Under the Aegis of the Roman Lord, etc.
Events or Circumstances
Sometimes, people come up with book titles based on what is going on in their lives at the moment. It may also be an event that they witnessed. It must not be personal to them. Examples are Children of War and Anger, A time of Bliss, Life with the fugitives, etc.
Most poetry collections do not contain one theme. Most times, there are so many themes explored in the collection. However, where the general theme is similar, it is easy to find a title befitting the collection.
In a collection where the general theme is love or romance, it is best if the title reflects the theme. For example, ‘Under your arms of Ecstasy.’ It doesn’t take much for a reader to know about love and romance. The same things apply to sadness or death.
Forms Of Poetry Book Titles
The title of a poem may take many forms. There are simply no rules. We are in that age where poetry has taken many forms and shapes. Also, modern poets have broken nearly every rule of poetry. The same thing can happen with the title. Here are various forms the title of your poetry book can take.
- Single or monosyllabic title: picking a title with a single word can be a trick. If you don’t get it right, a reader may drop the book once they see the title. If you are going to take this route, ensure the word is catchy enough. Examples of such words include Untamed; Wildfire, Enchanted; etc.
- Poetic Language: These are poetic titles. Merely pronouncing it gives the idea that the book is a poetry collection. Some examples: The fault in our stars, Of Whom the Bell Tolls, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Under the Daffodils, Tales from the Taliban, and so on.
- Thematic Title: As mentioned earlier, the theme of your poetry collection can influence your book title. Themes like war, vengeance, hate, love, strife, darkness can influence the title. Please take a look at some of them: Daisy’s Dilemma, Collected poems of Autumn, Things fall apart, A Midsummer night’s dream. Some of the examples are titles for novels, but they can also apply to poetry. It all depends on the central theme of your collection.
- Emotional or Evocative titles: Some poetic titles go for the emotional jugular. These are titles that, when a reader comes across them, evokes strong emotions. Some examples are; All the words I couldn’t say, The day I died, Songs of sorrow.
- Wordplay: You can use wordplays to create titles. Consider Pride and Prejudice, Born to die, Of mine and Men, Of shadows and light, to mention but a few.
- Opposing words: using words and opposites in your title can be captivating. It is because contracts evoke curiosity. Readers want to know why you picked the topic. Some examples are love and hate, The light in the darkness, Strife and Harmony, Day and Night, Yesterday and Today, etc.
- Quotes from the book: perhaps this is one of the most common forms of poetry Book Title. They are simply picking a word or phrase from one of the poems in the book works. For instance, Maya Angelou’s collection ‘And Still I rise’ was the title of one poem in her book. She still used it to title a whole collection. There are also titles like To Kill a Mocking Bird; Their Eyes were Watching God etc. The list is endless.
- Action words: These are titles that use strong words. They are evocative. Gone Girl, A Game of Thrones, Songs of fire, and Ice sets off tension.
- Famous sayings: you can also use popular sayings to title your book. These are phrases with deep meanings which make people think. Examples of such sayings are; Till death do us part, Forever and Always, To be or not to be. Unconventional titles – being unconventional draws attention. Unconventional titles make readers say what? Take, for instance, Thursday died yesterday, Pineapple Grenade or Do birds dream of Computers. These are unconventional titles because of the contrast.
How To Come Up With A Title
Brainstorm: The first thing to do is to rack your head. Come up with every possible idea that comes to mind. No matter how ridiculous a title sounds to you, don’t dismiss it yet. Go through the poems you have already written. You might be surprised what you come up with in the process.
You may pick titles from song lyrics, contents in a book, a line of your poem, and popular phrases. There are so many ideas around. It would be best if you explored them.
Write down your titles: It is advisable to write down your titles immediately an idea comes to mind. Make a long list so that you will have plenty of options to choose from later.
Eliminate: After you have made your lists start eliminating them one after the other. Remove the ones you feel don’t make sense. Follow with one that may confuse potential readers. Narrow the list down to five. At this point, it should be easy to pick one.
Ask for help: There are many people to ask for help. Sometimes people have fantastic ideas that may come to them, but those ideas are not useful. Ask your friends and family to make suggestions. Also, ask other writers and poets in your circle.
Research: The internet has made things very easy for us these days. There are many suggestions you can get from the internet. Look at your favorite authors, check other poets unfamiliar to you. But be mindful that you don’t use a similar title. Sometimes you may come up with a title without realizing you have come across it before.
Computer-generated titles: This has become a thing among artists, writers, poets, and creatives. There are software and apps which can help you create a title. However, this is not always advisable as you may pick a title similar to another person’s work.
Things To Avoid While Choosing A Title
As much as you want to explore every avenue, there are some things you should consider.
Avoid using identical titles:
You don’t want readers to be confused when searching the net and coming with different books with identical titles. It was an issue with Tomi Adeyemi’s ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ and Nora Robert’s “Of Blood and Bones.” Such conflicts will confuse readers and discourage them from getting your book.
Derogatory words or Gutter language:
Nobody likes vulgarism. Not especially poetry readers. Poetry is meant to be soothing, entertaining, humorous, or educational. Shocking or explicit words may grab attention but not the kind of attention you want.
Stick with your genre:
There’s no point titling a book ‘the Devil’s advocate’ when you are writing a romance. Or using ‘Fair maiden’ for a collection whose theme revolves around war and chaos. As much as possible, let the title reflect the content of the book.
There’s no need to provoke people’s sensibilities with your titles. Titles such as “How to kill a negro”, “I don’t like ugly women” are unnecessary. Try to be creative without being offensive.
Note, some titles even inspire an author to write. The title may come to mind first before you start to write. So whenever a catchy phrase or cool title comes to mind, be sure to write it down. Here’s a list of possible ideas to use for your book title:
An Arabian night
Beyond the veil
Under the starry night
The coconut leaves song.
The girl behind the shadows
To love and to hold
It happened in Summer.
The Winters solstice
Surrender, or we all burn.
The night they struck
Silence in the Storm
We are all gods
The one who could not speak
A mother’s Karma
You will like it here.
To be or not to be.
The list is not exhaustive. You can find and choose your titles from the weirdest places or funny reasons. The most important thing it has meaning, and it’s captivating.
The title is one of the most important marketing decisions you will make for your book. There are so many good books that may never become known due to a wrong title. Your title should make your readers curious. It must have an element of intrigue.
Finally, finding the best title for your poetry collection doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be one of the easiest things you do before publishing. Find out what the heart of your poem is. What idea or message do you want your readers to get? The title will come once you have figured this out.