Yes, name? No, name. Bad name? Good name.

I’m in the editing phase of my 25th book. It’s also the third book in a series. While I am editing the book and formatting the pages for both the paperback version and the ebook version, I am gearing up to have the cover done. But one thing is absolutely necessary before I can hire someone to do my cover.

I have to have a title for the book.

Most of the time, the titles of my books come pretty easily. Sometimes I have the title before I start writing the book. Sometimes I start with a title and it changes as I come up with a better one as I write it. And sometimes I don’t have a title, but it comes to me as I write it.

In this situation–and I think this is a first for me–I wrote the entire book and even got into the editing process without settling on a decent name. As I mentioned, it’s the third book in a series, my Heretics series. The first book, Soul Survivor, is called that because that’s the video blog that the main character posts which leads the villain to her. The second book, The Serpent and the Dove, gets its name from a sermon that Harris Borden, one of my main characters, gives right before everything goes kablooey. He makes reference to Christians being “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” So the names were pretty obvious in both situations and came quickly.

With book #3, I started off thinking I would call the book Kiboko, which is Swahili for hippo. It’s a respectful name the protagonist’s students give her in the book, but I thought it would probably be lost in translation, especially since it means hippo. I also considered The Rescuers and All We Like Sheep, but rejected both of those names for various reasons. Most recently, I considered The Martyr’s Path, but rejected because people thought it was too dark. Finally, I ended up with my title: The Overcomers.

A title isn’t a book, but it can make or break a book. It can determine whether people will pick up your book to read it or not, just like the cover art will. It isn’t something you should consider lightly. The title I came up with isn’t perfect, and I am sure someone, somewhere could have come up with a better one. My book on Jonathan was originally titled Chosen by me, but when Pacific Press republished it, the renamed it To the Last Man. I think their title is much better, even though my title was one I had picked many years before.

There’s no magic formula for choosing a title. More than anything, you have to have a title that (1) represents the subject matter; and (2) appeals to your audience. And there are no guarantees that what you think is a great title will be acceptable by the marketplace. You just have to try your best.