Analysing Titles – YA Fantasy Amazon top 100

Today I’m going to talk about YA Fantasy book titles. Whether you are a traditionally published author and have to discuss your title choice with a group of people from your publishing house or a self-published author, who gets to make the decision all by herself, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The first thing a potential buyer sees when they walk into a physical bookstore is your title and the spine of your book (cover if your book has been deemed worthy enough of a prominent display). In an online store it is the title and cover that a potential buyer sees. Remember that many e-readers display book covers in black and white, making the title even more important.

Since your title is the first thing a reader notices, it has a significant influence on whether they will buy your book or not. A title can spark interest or leave a reader cold or even confused.

As a starting point to deciding what title to chose I would analyze books that perform successfully in your genre. For this post I have examined the top 100-bestselling titles in Amazon, category Teen & YA fantasy (on 16th of July 2016) to see what works and what the main trends are.

I will start with the obvious one – the trend to have one single word for your title. After all, the shorter the title, the easier it is to remember it, pronounce it, and repeat it in conversation when making recommendations.

Below are single word titles that made it on the top 100 list:

Touchedbb3

Invidious

Unfaithful

Inception

Anarchy

Calamity

Keeper

Cinder

Scarlet

Winter

Cress

Zeroes

As you can see single word titles are either nouns or adjectives and most of them evoke a vivid image or emotion.

 

However, sometimes there isn’t just one word that is good enough or accurate enough to describe your book. If that is the case for your novel, don’t worry, single word titles don’t even account for 25% of the bestselling books.

Let’s look at the popular two word structures. Notice how each of the titles makes it clear that that the book belongs in the fantasy genre.

Noun + verb :

Fate bound

Crystal crowned

Air awakens

Dragon marked

 

Adjective + noun:

Red queen

Hollow city

 

The’ preceding noun (to highlight the importance of the noun):

The hobbitStack-of-books-clipart-black-and-white-free

The giver

The forsaken

The concealed

The inquisition

 

Longer titles composed of three, four or five words also had a prominent spot on the bestseller list. Let’s have a closer look at them:

A noun modified by another noun:

The queen’s poisoner

The mermaid’s sister

 

A possessive case with noun:

The paper magician

The shadow queen

 

A noun modified by an adjective:

The absent gods

The desolate mountains

 

‘The – of –‘ or ‘The – and –‘ structure:

The dragon hunter and the mage

The heroes of Olympus

The wretched of Muirwood

 

Titles with preposition ‘of’, particularly for three word titles:

Throne of glass

Crown of midnight

Queen of shadows

Empire of storms

Heir of fire

Powers of six

Duel of fire

Library of Souls

End of days

Blood of the guardian

The tales of Beedle the bard

 

Finally, titles with 4 or 5 words that started with ‘a/an’ and often featured the preposition ‘of’:

A shade of vampire

An ember in the ashes

A court of mist and fury

A court of thorns and roses

 

As you can see from the above examples one word or short titles aren’t the only ones that are appealing. Therefore, don’t worry if you can’t come up with one word to describe your novel or if no single word is good enough. There are many other and longer compositions that could work for your title. If you have a prominent place or your protagonist has an unusual name, you might want to consider including them in your title (the most famous fantasy example are the Harry Potter books). Finally, make sure that the title gives your potential reader a clue about the genre your book is written in, to make your novel more appealing to your target audience and easier to find.

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