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How important are book titles?

DI Andy Horton A Killing Coast by Pauline RowsonWith regards to fiction surprisingly book titles are not that important in terms of being remembered.  My long years of writing, meeting readers and having over twenty-three crime novels published has shown me that readers can rarely remember the title of a book, but what they do remember is the main character and the name of the author.  However every book needs a title, and a question I am often asked by readers is how do I come up with one. Here is my take on the subject.

Some titles are like pregnancy, taking months to develop and even when the novel is finished I might still have no idea what to call it.

Other titles can come instantly, almost the moment the novel hits the page although that is rare. Dead Man's Wharf was one such case, mainly because it is set around a wharf where a dead man is found.

The location and scene of the murder in the novel can often prompt the title as in A Killing Coast when a body is found floating in the sea off Portsmouth harbour but the action also takes place around the stunning coastal bays of the Isle of Wight, hence the ‘coast’ in the title.

Then there is Death Lies Beneath, the eighth in the Horton series, when a woman's body is found beneath the sea on a sunken barge just off a disused quayside in Portsmouth. The title of DI Horton number twelve, Fatal Catch, comes from the opening incident when fishermen discover they have hauled up a human hand.

The main character's actions can also prompt a title. For example in my mystery thriller In For The Kill, the hero, Alex Albury, newly released from prison after serving a sentence for a crime he didn't commit, is out to find the man who framed him and seek revenge. He is in for the kill.

And in Silent Running Art Marvik mystery thriller (1) the title describes how Marvik is trying to come to terms with his new career after leaving the Royal Marines, working undercover for the UK’s Pole National Intelligence Marine Squad. The second in the series is called, Dangerous Cargo and is inspired by the fact the novel involves, well you’ve guessed it, and maybe I shouldn’t say anymore for fear of giving away the plot.

Undercurrent, a DI Andy Horton crime novelThe DI Horton novels, Marvik mystery thrillers and my 1950s set Inspector Ryga mysteries  are all set against the backdrop of the sea so there has to be a marine element in the book’s title, for example, Undercurrent, Footsteps on the Shore, Blood on the Sand.

And in the Inspector Ryga series I've chosen to go along with a theme in the titles: DEATH IN THE COVE (1) DEATH IN THE HARBOUR (2) and DEATH IN THE NETS (3) others to follow suit.

The title must also reflect the genre. This makes it even more challenging. And titles are often changed in translation to suit the country of publication. They can also be differ between the USA and the UK.

But to return to the question are titles important or more apt are they remembered? The majority  of them are not. If the book is memorable, or becomes famous or controversial, or is the name of a film/TV series, or is treasured by the reader then it will stick, hopefully along with the name of the author but not always. Characters though have far greater staying power in a reader’s mind and generate loyalty over a much longer time frame sometimes even after the author has long been gone, therefore it's much better to concentrate on creating a memorable character rather than getting hung up a title.

Pauline Rowson's gripping, entertaining crime novels full of twists and turns

Pauline Rowson's crime novels
If you enjoy reading gripping, fast-paced crime novels full of twists and turns, compelling and multi-layered with great characters and stories that keep you guessing right to the end then Pauline Rowson's crime novels are right up your street. 

Set against the back drop of the ever changing sea on the South Coast of England. 

Where to buy Pauline Rowson's books

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JULY 12TH, 2021 @ 6:03:30 BST

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