I just wait. I try not to think to hard and I know eventually it'll come naturally. I'm a big fan of the short titles the one words that say thriller or the ones that don't make sense. lol. But for my book that I'm about to release I titled it Indiana Fire, but of course that's the name of the disease in the book, so that was an easier one. But I just think of the story, what happens, and then try not to even think of naming it and sometimes it'll pop in my head and I'll literally yell, that's it! It also depends on if I plan for it to be a single book of part of a series. My recent short story, that I might turn into a book, had a wonderland kind of feel. The girl at night goes into this insane world I created, a serene dream world where you could fly. I thought what in the world am I gonna call this, and I just let it go tried not too think too hard, and came back later and came up with "Of Crows and Other Horses." It matches the story, you'd have to read it, but I'll sometimes look up words, like synonyms for a word I'm thinking of something to make it different fancy sounding maybe. :)
For me it seems to be different with every book. I never considered a title other than Surviving the Fog, and the first book of Tales of the Ragoon was easy, but Amy's Hero started off as Hero or Her Hero or several other versions.
Partly it is a result of the purpose of the book. The Mackenzie's Rock books are supposed to remind people of the old Heinlein juveniles, but I did not have this purpose articulated mentally at first, so until I did, I had several different titles floating around in my mind (and these days I mean that literally). Once I remembered how much fun I wanted this series to be, (for the most part, because there are some stories in the series that will probably be for adults only), I began seeing Julee and the First Officer, Jara versus the Planet Marl, and Captain Mackenzie and the Last Chance Spaceship.
Other titles come to me before the body of the story. The Colors of Passion and Love was like that. And then there are titles that are a result of a vague idea. I wonder if I will ever write, The Werewolves of Antarctica.
I agree with Stan. With some books, the title is easy and comes before I even write a word. Other times, it's difficult and it doesn't come to me until the very end.
Either way, I try to keep it as simple as possible with as few words as possible. I just don't like it when authors use long names or five words in a title unless it's super catchy, but that's just my preference.
I choose a title from several that may come to me while writing. I agree with Neisa that you shouldn't try to think too hard about it. They can come to you like those memories you know are in there, but hide themselves deeper the more you try to coax them out. Sleep on it - for weeks if you have to.
It seems to be something that takes on more meaning as the story unfolds - the more content to source the title from, the more meaningful a title is likely to be. My just completed title was initially going to be Big Sky Dreaming, due to the Australian outback being the land of the big sky, but as the story ultimately revolves around visions of life after death, I thought Life Before Death provided a more relevant context.
I am not very good with titles. I struggled with writing headlines as a journalist. For my book series, ETHEREAL INFLUENCE, I actually asked people for suggestions and this one was thought of by my brother-in-law.
Sometimes when I go over the preliminary draft of a book, a phrase that would make a good title pops out at me.
I like titles that conjure up a concrete image in the reader's mind.
When I can think of them, I also like titles that are intriguing because they're paradoxical. I wrote a novel called The Black Bouquet. I thought that was interesting because, of course, your average bouquet is not black.
It can be a plus if titles indicate or at least seem to fit the genre of the book. You probably wouldn't want to call a romance novel Scattered Bloody Entrails or a horror novel Kisses in the Park.
Interesting topic, thanks for starting it. I enjoy naming my novels and they go through several 'working titles' until one settles like a well fitting coat. I was a copywriter once a long time ago and I retain that love of playing with words and meanings. I have also written several Tv and film scripts and the 'industry rule' is that the title should tell you something about the content.
I wrote a film script (which will become a novel eventually) about a mother who runs from her outwardly charming and inwardly psychotic husband and takes her 10 year daughter, Samantha. He follows and murder ensues. It became "Saving Sammy" and that does sum it up.
The novel I have on Amazon and Smashwords is called "The Secret Keeper" and that is about the 4th or 5th title. It started out as "The Horowitz Concerto" because that is the name of the main family and it was written in four parts, like a concerto, and it is about looted musical instruments in Nazi Germany. Then it became "Tears of an Angel" which is an old description of the sound of a del Gesu violin, around which the story revolves. Then I realised that just about everyone in the novel has at least one secret!
My short stories are also on Amazon and Smashwords and the book is named after the first story, about James Bond and the drinks he consumed during his literary life. He learns that you never shake a martini, so it was obvious to call it "Stirred Not Shaken."
I am currently writing a novel from a screenplay I wrote which was called "Love and Wine." But that doesn't really reflect the nature of the story which is now far more of a thriller. Set in the underworld and then in a vineyard. I toyed with "A Vine Romance" but it isn't one. "Blood and Wine" and at the moment I am considering "In Vino Veritas" because it is all about justice and telling the truth. We shall see. The jury is still out.
I like "Blood and Wine." Just my two cents... :)
I always start with a title first, but the title comes to me in my sleep, in the car, or anywhere. I like phrases, making up words, simplicity, and unique names for people. I'm not fond of a title that tells the reader what the book is about i.e. "The Woman that Killed her Husband." If my story was going to be about a woman that killed her husband, I'd title it "Sarah's Vow." See there, it could be about anything. I like when readers think about what the story might be about by looking at the titl alone.
I agree with those that say wait. As I work and work with a manuscript, something always clicks and I get those "AH-HA!" moments. With one of my books, a children's historical fiction that takes place in the American Revolution, I found my title in my very last sentence! ("Together, they faced a dawn steeped richly in crimson - the color of blood, the color of sacrifice, the color of freedom.") :)
It sounds to me like you got "Mixed Messages" exactly right. I like my titles to illustrate a main theme or have a double meaning as well. It's got to be catchy and significant.
It took me a year to come up with the title. I wanted it to be catchy and to draw attention to the reader. But without over doing it. I didnt want them to think the book would be boring. So my title "The many lives of Avery Snow" pretty much tells you, her name is Avery Snow and this is a book of her many lives. I tossed several things around in my head. And concluded that this was it..I think you will just know when you hear it. I like how you chose Mixed Messages, you took a phrase out of the book and made it your title. Maybe that is what you should always do.
I actually use the title of songs as my book titles, but they have to be appropriate. The first one I ever wrote was called Live and Let Die. The second a million to one and the current one is Nowhere to run. Since I write crime, they have to be suitable and they have been so far. It's just something quirky I do.