Melodee’s Rules for Authors — Number Thirteen



Number Thirteen

Your Great New Title Is Already Taken


Titles are a problem for all authors. You want a title that will say something about the story and catch the potential buyer’s attention. Sometimes, that’s hard to do and most of us struggle as much with the title as we do with the story itself.

But it seems that when you come up with a great title, someone else has already used it. Usually a fast search on Google will confirm this for you.

But on the other hand, so what?

Titles can’t be copyrighted. You can use any title you want, and no one can legally do anything about it. Obviously, you really don’t want to use something that was used before recently. Having two relatively new books on the shelf with the same title could confuse the readers. By and large, the readers are already confused, so I try to avoid that.

But what if I wanted to use the title of, let’s say, “The Old Man and the Sea” for my new book? Odds are, no matter the bookstore, me and Hemingway are not going to be in the same place in the store. Papa’s books will be in the Classics section. Mine will be in the Romance section…maybe in the Smut section. There is little chance of confusion here.

But the rule is to check out the title. Has it been used before? If so, when? In what genre?

Finding that your first choice is taken might be a blessing in disguise. That forces you to brainstorm on a new title, and you may come up with something even better.

Don’t get discouraged…make it happen!

Often your agent or representative will make title suggestions. This a good thing since they will have a marketing point of view that may help sales.

Keep Loving!



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  1. Titles are the worse. One of my first books had a perfect title which hadn’t been used. Did due diligence and then some, including checking Library of Congress only to have another book come out in the same genre, with the same title, a year later.

  2. I titled one romance CAPTIVE HEART, only to find it had been taken…several times over! But even when I revised and self–pubbed the novel, I kept the title. I guess I thought it was the one which best captures the heart of my book. 😉

    Most often, I lift a few words or a phrase from the work itself, assuring myself it’s unique!

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