I have read (and own) quite a few books on the craft of writing, but very few tackle the topic of creating a great title.
SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder dedicates a page and a half to the topic, which is more than the other books. ;)
Snyder writes, "to come up with one that nails the concept, without being so on the nose that it's stupid, is an art unto itself" (page 9).
Right ... we know that ... but how do we come up with that great title that nails the concept?
Evidence: My debut novel was originally titled THE EDUCATION OF THIA. After several agents used the phrase "too didactic" in their rejection letters, I reconsidered the title and changed it to BUT HE LOVES ME. With that change alone (I left the content of the query letter the same) I received quite a few requests for the full manuscript. So was it a winning title? Not really. After signing with an awesome agent, we worked and worked and worked to come up with a better title. We decided on SAFE. A winner? Not sure. The editor who made an offer on the manuscript said we had to change the title. Okay. Back to the drawing board.
Snyder also writes, "Title and logline are, in fact, the one-two punch, and a good combo never fails to knock me out. Like the irony in a good logline, a great title must have irony and tell the tale. One of the best titles of recent memory, and one I still marvel at, is Legally Blonde. ... It says what it is! ... If it doesn't pass the Say What It Is Test, you don't have your title. And you don't have the one-two punch" (pages 9-10).
So here is the logline my agent used to sell my manuscript:
Margo Kelly’s debut SAFE is a modern take on “the call is coming from inside the house” old
urban legend, in which a young girl falls in love with a guy online who comes
And here's the new title my editor and I came up with:
WHO RU REALLY?
Does it pass the Say What It Is Test? Or is it so "on the nose that its stupid?"
Actually, don't answer the second question.
Naming a book is like naming a child. Inevitably someone is going to hate the name, and you can't possibly please everyone.
BUT the good news is, I have a KILLER TITLE for my next book. ;)