Every author has their own unique way of coming up with titles for their books. Some already have titles in mind before they begin writing. Some wait until after they've written the book and choose a title relative to something in the story. Others may find it difficult to decide on a title, and ask their betas or someone close to them to help them select something appropriate. When it comes to figuring out book titles in an ongoing series, the task may be more difficult than titling a stand-alone book.
Coming up with titles for a series of books can be quite a challenge. It can feel daunting, but it doesn't have to! Try to see the experience as part of the creative process. That's what I do. I make it fun, and I even do some investigative research work, too. Many authors, myself included, probably have a theme or a main character idea for their series. They may already have starter plot ideas stirring around in their minds. It's that exact moment, I seize the opportunity to get busy. If I wait too long to play with titles, my creativity gets bogged down with details, the plots begin to unfold, characters become fleshed out too fast, and overwhelm settles in.
Seizing the opportunity: I begin with jotting down everything that comes to my mind about the series. Theme is a biggie for me when it comes to tossing around titles within a series. One important detail is I want a fused connection between the book titles, a theme thread that runs throughout the entire series. I want them to be catchy, easy to remember, and readers to enjoy reading / saying them. I'm going to use my Steely & Cuff Mystery series as an example, and even give you a glimpse into how my mind works. (Remember, every author is different. I'm sharing my own method of madness.)
My series began with a character, Steely Lamarr. I knew I wanted her to have an interesting profession, which I chose dog-grooming. I wanted her to be an amateur sleuth, help solve who-dun-its, in her mid-twenties, in the transition of life at home and out on her own. I wanted her to have a dog, and I wanted the dog theme and mystery theme to run throughout. I instantly knew book 1 would become part of a series and not a stand-alone book. There was a lot of potential, and many starter plot ideas that had already formed. I knew it was time to sit down and brainstorm.
The word brainstorm is spot-on for my process. The ideas literally rain down so quickly, I have a hard time catching them all. Sometimes, the ideas have a tornado effect and whirl around, making me dizzy. I love when ideas storm down on me. It's invigorating! I grab my notebook, a pen, and get to work. Yes, I'm a long-hand brainstormer. It works for me during this stage of the process. I prefer long-hand brainstorming, because I can go back again and again, even if I've crossed something out, I can still read it. Sort of. Long-hand brainstorming can be messy! But, on a computer, once a deletion on a document has occurred, and you've re-saved, your original idea is gone. So, a messy, maddening method works best for me.
Back to the Steely & Cuff titles.
The books are mysteries with the main character, Steely, her pup, and the two of them together helping solve a murder mystery and/or crime.
My steps are simple.
Step 1: Research every word regarding dogs and make a list.
Step 2: Research words regarding book baddies and make a list.
Step 3: Column both lists next to each other and create combinations. (see images 1 and 2 below)
Step 4: Sleep on them. Several times. Read them aloud. Change them up.
Step 5: Select your favorites and save the rest. (You may have a plan of how many books you'll have in the series. But sometimes, plans change.)
I then work the mystery for each book around the titles. (spoiler alert) Example: In How to Leash a Thief (book 1), my villain is a bank robber, and Steely & Cuff actually hogtie the baddie with a dog leash. For me, it was easy to construct a mystery story around having a thief and leashing him in the end. The study title in the beginning was, "Leash a Thief. The "How to" part of the title happened to occur after I created the combinations, and I liked the way it sounded. Hence all the "How to" combos in image 2.
And, there you have it, my method of madness creating book titles in a series.