What’s in a name? A look at one-word book titles

There’s a long essay at The Millions this week entitled The Appeals and Perils of the One-Word Book Title.

It’s well worth reading, as it covers a lot of ground, and stresses the importance of the title for your books.

Writer Bill Morris discusses the appeal of one-word titles … “mainly because they can be so enviably concise and memorable, so perfect. At their best, one-word titles distill content to its purest essence, which is what all titles strive to do, and then they stick in the mind.”

Think of the pressure involved in choosing just one single word to convey the meaning of your entire book! A lot can go wrong, but if you get it right, well, you’ll have a successful book, driven by curiosity over the title. So, whether you have a book in mind, have already chosen a title, or just want a little exercise this morning, think of one word, just one word, that would convey the essence of your book.

As further impetus to study the one-word-title concept, Morris notes:

“Seven of the 32 books on the current New York Times hardcover fiction and non-fiction best-seller lists – a healthy 22 percent – have one word titles.”

Curious? There’s a section on the importance of title in Release Your Writing. Like naming a baby, it’s pretty important.


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