Posts Tagged Book Titles

Titles and Trademarks

There is no copyright in titles. A quick search on Amazon has shown me that there are at least ten novels with the same title as mine; The Promise.

However, difficulties can arise if the words in your title have been trademarked by someone else. I came across two incidents of this recently.

Firstly, I met someone to whom this had happened. The author’s publisher was contacted by the lawyer of a company who had trademarked a phrase very similar to, but not exactly the same as, the title of this writer’s book. The company used this trademark to identify a series of books rather than a single book. The company’s lawyer threatened legal action if the title of my acquaintance’s book wasn’t changed. This meant my author acquaintance and their publisher had to decide whether to get into a legal battle, which could be costly, or whether to change the title of the book, stand the cost of destroying the existing copies and reprinting.

Secondly, I came across an article about a romantic novelist who has trademarked the word ‘cocky’ for use in book titles. Faleena Hopkins has self-published a series of romance novels featuring the Cocker brothers and each has the word ‘cocky’ in the title. Following her trademarking, Faleena has asked several other romantic novelists to remove the word ‘cocky’ from their book titles. This hasn’t gone down well and a petition has been started to ask the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the ‘cocky’ trademark. See the full Guardian article for more details.

I am not a lawyer and if you have any specific questions or concerns in this area you should seek professional advice from a qualified person or a reputable organisation such as the Society of Authors. However, from some internet research, it seems to that:

  • Individual book titles cannot be trademarked but the name relating to a whole series of books can e.g. Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Trademarks are generally registered at a national level but there are mechanisms to register them in multiple countries.
  • Trademarks are generally registered to apply only to a certain range of products or services such as chemicals, vehicles, printed matter etc.

More information can be found at:

The UK Copyright Service

Secure Your Trademark

Trademarks (gov.uk)

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After the Crash by Michel Bussi

After the Crash is a mystery/thriller set around the events following a plane crash. After the Crash by Michel BussiAll the passengers have been killed apart from a three-month-old baby girl. BUT there were two babies on the plane and relatives from both families step forward to claim her. It is 1980 and therefore DNA can’t be used to prove the identity of the child.

The book is the story of the private detective hired by the richer of the two families to prove the identity of the baby.

I read the book with my ‘author’ hat on and tried to judge why it was a bestseller. The following points grabbed me:

  • The reader is sucked straight into the mystery. I turned the pages because I wanted to know who the baby belonged to – this is the benefit of setting up a clear dilemma at the beginning of the book to grab the reader.
  • The action is fast moving. It takes place over a couple days following the baby’s 18th birthday but is interspersed with extracts from the private detective’s notebook. The present day ‘urgent’ action is mixed with slower, long term events from the past.
  • It appeals to both sexes (my husband passed it on to me). It’s written from a male point of view but there’s a hint of romance in there.

The title of the book, After the Crash, is very explanatory but I did wonder why the publisher had decided not to go along with the current trend of using the word ‘Girl’ – think of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, Girl Number One (an indie published bestseller) etc. ‘Girl with no Name’ would have been a very appropriate title.

Has anybody else read this book? What did you think?

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Amazon Asked Me to Change My Book Title

Regular followers of this blog will know that I published my first Kindle e-book, One Day for Me – 8 Award-Winning Stories, two years ago. It’s a collection of short stories, all of which have either won or been placed in UK writing competitions. One Day for Me - 8 Coffee Break Stories

A few weeks back I received an email about this book from Amazon. It told me that the book’s title contained ‘extra descriptive content ‘ which was not allowed. It said that this extra content could be ‘distracting or misleading to our customers’. I was given five days to change the title of the book or have it removed from the Kindle store.

Initially I was confused about was wrong with the title and queried it. Amazon replied that I must remove the words ‘Award-Winning’. My first reaction was to argue the point because I feel justified in using these words since all the stories have done well in competitions. But I decided it would be a David and Goliath contest and David would probably end up with all his books being removed from the Amazon store.

So, I complied and changed the title to One Day for Me – 8 Coffee Break Stories. Then I realised that I didn’t know how to change the cover image to reflect this new title. The cover was all my own work (following some wonderful advice from many of you about what worked and what didn’t)  two years ago but since then I’ve forgotten how to get back in and edit it. I decided time was too precious to waste trying to sort it out so I’ve had a new cover created by Helen Measures on http://www.fiverr.com. It’s quite different from the first cover so I’m hoping that it will attract readers who dismissed the book first time around.

I post this as a warning to those of you thinking of publishing on Amazon KDP. Don’t put any spurious claims or words such as ‘free’ or ‘best’ in your title. If you do you may be asked to remove them.

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Choosing a Book Title for KDP

Most of us have a working-title whilst we’re writing, whether it be a short story, novel or a work of non-fiction. Usually it’s the first word or phrase that came to mind as we sat down to begin our masterpiece.

And that’s the way it should be. Too many writers waste time trying to find the perfect title before starting to write – and then never get anything down on paper. A scrappy working-title is fine but take some time to refine it before sending the manuscript out into the big wide world.

If you’re intending to go through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it’s worth bearing the following points in mind:

  •  For non-fiction don’t be too clever, simply focus on the benefits the book will bring to the reader – for example, Fast Weight Loss or How to Grow Cacti.
  • The title should give an indication of what the book is about. In 1925 ‘Fleece of Gold’ by Gautier sold 6,000 copies. It was then re-titled ‘The Quest for a Blonde Mistress’ (which is a much better description of the story) and in 1926 it sold 50,000 copies. (I know this was way before KDP but it illustrates the importance of choosing the right title)
  • Try a brainstorming session with a couple of friends and note down all the ideas that come out. Review them a week later and see which still seem good.
  • If possible, try to include in the title any keywords that a reader might use on Amazon to search for books, for example if your work is similar to Fifty Shades of Grey you might want to include ‘Billionaire’ in the title

When you’ve dreamt up something plausible, put your title to the test  using a clever tool provided free by Lulu.com. Go to lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php and simply fill in the boxes. The tool will give your title a score of between 9% and 83% chance of bestseller success. Obviously there are no guarantees but it’s worth a try if you can’t decide between two or three different titles.

Anyone else have any tips on how to create a great title that will respond well in Amazon searches?

Finally, a writing prompt for you based on something I saw this week. On a visit to the supermarket, I used the ladies’ toilets. In the cubicle was an empty pregnancy test packet – someone obviously couldn’t wait until they got home to find out if she was expecting. Who was she? What was the result of the test? Was it the result she wanted? What happened next?

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