As a reader, a good title will catch your eye. As a writer, we slave over finding the best one possible, and even then, somewhere during the process of writing, revising, editing, it will get changed.
I'm not good with titles. Never have been. As a matter of fact, some have said my titles are boring.
Titles need to convey, not only the spirit of the book, but possibly a hint to the climax as well. Take these titles, for example --
WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY Kieran Kramer
WED HIM BEFORE YOU BED HIM Sabrina Jeffries
WHEN HE WAS WICKED Julia Quinn
CONFESSIONS OF A LITTLE BLACK GOWN Elizabeth Boyle
Don't they just want to make you pick them up and read them all in one sitting?
My titles are just very basic things. They don't really stand out, they don't really "do" anything. It's like I just slapped any old title on them for the sake of having one.
THE LADY'S MASQUERADE
THE LADY'S FATE
THE DUKE'S DIVORCE
THE CAPTAIN'S LADY
THE EARL'S ENIGMA
And this wasn't because I didn't try to come up with a decent title, I did. For the longest time THE LADY'S MASQUERADE was going to be THE STEWARD AND MISS HIGGINS. But then who would want to read a book about these two people when the whole premise of the book was about masquerading as someone else, and the climax does indeed take place at a masquerade ball.
The same with THE LADY'S FATE. That title originally was FOR THE LOVE OF JANE. This did nothing exciting for the plot, or the characters because Jane is a little girl and the story revolves "around" her, but is not necessarily "about" her. Know what I mean? However, I would like to add THE LADY'S FATE is particularly ambiguous as well, but it does convey a sort of little mystery -- what is her fate?
I've also been waffling back and forth with THE DUKE'S DIVORCE these days. Divorce was hardly EVER done way back when, the social mores of the time were strict, and parties involved would rather suffer through abuse, abandonment, and monetary irresponsibility than get a divorce. Hence, the idea of THE DUKE'S DILEMMA. Same premise, less harsh reality. Then again, for those of my readers who do know the era, a divorce is surely to intrigue enough to read.
So the next time you see a book with a so-so title, don't pass it by, give it a go. You might be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes writers use up all their creativity in the writing of their books and have nothing left for the title.
At least that's what I tell myself.
Tell me -- Do you judge a book by its title?