Title Trouble

Owl Eyes

Rejected Terrible Titles

Your titles can make or break you as an author—they are the first thing a reader sees about a book—and the first bar most books fail. Waxing Dark actually went through multiple title changes. It started out as Ending Academy, which was unbelievably dull.

Garbage Head
Reading My Title I Could See The Shadow Of My Future…
The Title Is The Face Of Your Book.

Deciding I needed to put a bit more thought into it I came up with the clever idea to name the first book of my series Ending. I know, far too clever. In final edits I gained enough perspective, and had read enough about the industry, to realize naming my first book Ending was a terrible mistake. Readers won’t buy the first book when they think it’s the last book. Anything that hurts your sales is suicidal for a debut author. So… Yeah, I needed to change the title, again.

Unhinge Your Mind

Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa

Coming up with a title is stressful—its impact can make or break your sales if you’re a new author. Stress kills creativity, destroys flow—stress makes you pedestrian. Expectations are your enemy when brainstorming a mammoth pile of potential titles, and your best friend when selecting a diamond from the slurry you vomited up. So it’s not a bad idea to turn off your inner censor and go for the most terrible titles you can, cross genre lines, get the juices flowing—like a good expectorant, you want an exercise that focuses on coughing up as much as possible.

Manifest Your Destiny
Manifest Your Destiny

Sleep on it. Then you can let your inner tactician back in the room.

A Mortifying Multitude of Titles

I started brainstorming options with my significant other one night at Cornish Pasty. It was bad. So bad it was hilarious. It became obvious that we were destined to write a blog post about the atrocities that could have front-lined this work. Some of what we came up with was just plain wrong—and not just as titles for this particular book. They started with Magical Murder High and went south from there.

Smells Like YA
Smells Like YA
I Shouldn’t Like It But…

Some of the titles we came up with were quite viable… and already in use. Titles should be as unique as the books they are inscribed on, so these would have also been a poor choice for my debut.

Best Foot Forward
To Wedge Your Foot In The Door
Put your Best Foot Forward

So what did we come up with?

“YA” Young Adults Would be Too Embarrassed to Read


  • Magical Murder High
  • High School Scuffle
  • My Roommates the Killers
  • Banished from Boston
  • Exiled to Canada
  • Charon Drives the Short Bus
  • My Best Friend’s Dead and I Slept in Her Bed
  • Bombs are the Worst Baggage
  • The Uncomfortable Restroom Scenes Keep on Coming



  • The Ending Experiment
  • Creative Violence
  • Nocturne Nexus
  • Garret & Garrote
  • Jump-Cut Transformation
  • The Replacement
    • (“The Replacement” totally sounds like a Legal or Office Thriller doesn’t it?)

Chick Lit

Chick Lit

  • Glaring Girl
  • Unraveling
  • Unbecoming
  • Succumbing
  • An Absence of Self



  • Vesper’s Secret
  • The Headmaster’s Son
  • Nightrise
  • Best Bed, Worst Price
  • Small, Dark, and Hardly Handsome
  • Darkening Glass
  • Nocturne Uprising

Dark Fantasy

Dark Fantasy

  • Becoming Persephone
  • The Bone Forest
  • Oncoming Night
  • Nocturne Immersion
  • Tomb of Tomes
  • Luminous Darkness
  • Becoming Darkling
  • Nocturne Initiation
  • Undertow of Night
  • Igniting Darkness

Literary Fiction

Literary Fiction Titles

  • Shattered Glass
  • The Unraveling of Lillah Glass
  • Inrushing Nighttide
  • Becoming Noctilucent
  • Nighttide Undertow
  • Nocturne Tendrils
  • A Place for Endings
  • Luminous Darkening
  • Noctilucent Undertow
  • Half-Light Glass
  • Noctilucent Misanthrope
  • Luminous Nighttide
  • Dawning Nocturne
  • The Tower Room

Name Play to Obsession

Violet Glass

(Just prior to brainstorming titles we changed the main character’s name from Lillah Grey to Violet Glass).

  • Darkling Glass
  • Nightfall Glass
  • Nightrise Glass
  • Evenfall Glass
  • Eventide Glass
  • Nocturne Glass
  • Ending Glass
  • Liminal Glass
  • Noctilucent Glass

Unfortunate Reminders of Unfortunate Reading Assignments


  • Glass’ Menagerie

Too Punny for its Own Good

Askance Bird
Askance Bird Views You Askance
  • Vesper’s Form
    • We’d need to change the North American Freshman/Sophomore thing to the more British Form structure for class years, but this would have been doable…
  • Violet’s Violence
  • Glass’ Canon
  • High School Violence
  • The Final Form

The Perfect Fit

Perfect Face

A good title should hook readers of the right genre, and distill the voice and content of the book. To transition from terrible to fantastic each of the above titles just needs the perfect partner text.


After brainstorming our list of deliberately appalling joke names we turned in for the night.

Dream Magic
Clarity Comes While Sleepers Sleep

When we awoke the next morning and returned to our zany list with fresh eyes, several gems stood out. The first few were of course already taken when we did a brief Amazon check, but then we found one that fit and was free!

Waxing Dark Title

Waxing Dark sounded like YA Dark Fantasy—but a bit Chick Lit, subtly Literary, it could be a Paranormal Romance, or even a Thriller, and it had teen appeal. A little hint of everything the novel is—yet still clearly proclaiming itself a Dark Fantasy. We had found our star sapphire.

Title Teaser

Invisible Relationships

If you are wondering how the hell all those ridiculous titles would fit the same book… you’ll just have to read it and see.

In-jokes are wittier once you’re an insider.

Inside Joke

Title Trouble
Article Name
Title Trouble
Coming up with a title is stressful—its impact can make or break your sales if you're a new author. But stress kills creativity. So turn off your inner censor and go for the most terrible titles you can, get the juices flowing.
Publisher Name
True Universe
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