Titles – and do they matter?

If you’ve been following for a while, or are new here (hello!), you’ll see that I have a book out on query. My first novel, in fact.

Previously referred to as The Archivist – Book One, I have been lax in letting you all know its working (and submission) title*. And, let me tell you, it was hard to come up with one.

The Archivist is pretty catchy, right? That was my initial title, and stayed so for the longest time. But it really serves better as the title of the proposed trilogy, because unless you already know what an Archivist is in my particular writing universe, you might be a little confused picking up a title like that on the sci-fi shelf.

But what is an Archivist?

Archivists are cybernetically enhanced humans charged with gathering all data in the galaxy. Librarians, researchers, scientists, analysts; Archivists are the database managers of the universe… with all the information ever recorded only a thought away.

Book One of The Archivist Series features Cassia Tan, a graduate Archivist on the way to her first job off-planet. Chased onto a ship heading in the wrong direction, she finds herself surrounded by pirates, assassins, extremists, aristocrats, and a mysterious alien who needs her help to escape them. Cassia has to decide: stay true to her duty, or risk her job and her life for the sake of the unknown.

And now the big reveal: the book title.

On Solar Winds

Ta-da!

I settled with On Solar Winds for three reasons. One, it sounds like a science fiction title. Secondly, it directly refers to something in the book. And third, it works nicely with the proposed titles for the next two books… whose working titles are On Lascian Seas and On Central Soils (and definitely subject to change).

Now for the next question: does it even matter?

Yes… and no. As outlined in this blog post by Scott Berkun (and many others–just Google), titles are extremely subjective. There are great books with awful titles, and rubbish books with awesome titles. Titles help sell, but they are not the be-all and end-all. Yet you have to be happy with the title that you choose. After all, you’ll be wanting to repeat it over and over again in the many ways you’ll market the book.

BUT. Publishers might want to change your title.

And you might need to be okay with this.

Australian Writer’s Centre’s Pamela Freeman told a class of speculative fiction writers last year, myself among them, not to hold on to our titles. I’ve tried to bear that in mind. If a publisher decides that there is a more fitting title for my book, or even the series, then I will be open to that change. After all, they’re the ones who might know better.

So, yay for today and having a working title I am satisfied with. And yay for tomorrow, when who knows… hopefully someone else will like it too. 🤞


* Unless you follow me on Twitter. I might have let it slip there a while back 😉


A nine-image collage in blue-green colour scheme, showing elements to represent The Archivist visually.
Aesthetic board for On Solar Winds. Images from Canva.
Header image by Ondřej Šponiar from Pixabay

Do you have trouble choosing titles? Are you a writer willing to reveal the initial working title of your work(s)? Let us know in the comments!


3 thoughts on “Titles – and do they matter?

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