You can’t underestimate the value of a good title for a magazine article or a book manuscript. Many writers don’t put much energy into those few words since they figure it will be changed in the editorial process. That’s not true. If you choose a good title, I’ve found it will remain and appear in print for the magazine article or the book.
Those few words are the first thing an editor will see with your submission so don’t slap something on the top of your manuscript then never revisit the title before you send it to the editor.
For some writers, the title can be a stumbling block–since it’s the first thing on your manuscript. To get around this difficulty, often I will throw the first thing that comes to my mind into that spot on the page. BUT I always revisit it at the end of the process, create several titles, and then select the most appropriate one before I send it off to the editor.
Titles come from many different places. Sometimes they are a play on words and for other titles, they are buried in a phrase inside the actual article or book. When I was on the staff of Decision magazine, we spent hours in Title Meetings where we debated the merits of a particular title for an article. Why? Because at the time the magazine had a circulation of 1.8 million copies and we knew a good title would draw readers. Each of us would suggest possible titles, and then we selected what we determined as the best title for that article. If the writer proposed a good one, then it stuck.
Some of my personal favorites are: Two Words That Changed My Life, the title of my personal testimony, http://www.terrylinks.com/TWTCML A Strange Place To Sing, a children’s book I wrote about Paul and Silas in jail; Never Too Busy, another children’s book about Jesus and the children and finally Lessons From the Pit which I wrote about the Eurodollar Pit of the Chicago Mercantile.
Titles are definitely worth a bit of your creative thinking. The title might make the difference whether you get the editors’ attention or not.
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W. Terry Whalin is a former magazine editor, book editor and literary agent. He is the creator of an online course to teach writers how to create excellent book proposals, www.WriteABookProposal.com (http://bit.ly/wbkpro) and an Acquisitions Editor at Morgan James Publishing, a NY based publisher (http://terrylinks.com/mjp1s). Get his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author: (http://bit.ly/wtwsite) Terry has almost 40,000 followers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/terrywhalin
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