As it turns out, a lot. Because titles can’t be copyrighted, same or similar ones pop up with surprising regularity despite best efforts by authors, agents, publishers, filmmakers, and playwrights to come up with something original. That, of course, is not always a bad thing, as evidenced by this report from Galleycat. A. J. Waines’ Girl on a Train is benefiting from the confusion of readers who were looking to buy Paula Hawkins’ bestseller The Girl on the Train. The sales of Waines’ book have spiked and some readers don’t seem to mind the mix-up as they enjoyed their reading experience.
We spend a lot of time giving feedback to our authors on titles and it’s never not tough. A good title resonates with a book buyer. It makes you either “get” the category/subject matter immediately or it puzzles you enough that it makes you want to find out more. It’s either straightforward and catchy or confusingly oblique but still memorable. Depending on the category you are working in, a strong title can go a long way in helping to market the book. And really, anything goes—Cryptonomicon, anyone?—as long as it’s intriguing in the right way to the right group of readers.
But while everyone tries to be unique, duplicates and triplicates abound. Even after searching Amazon for similar titles in your category, there’s no guarantee that the same one won’t pop up in another genre. Case in point (one is a novel from DGLM client Libby Cudmore due out in 2016; one is a memoir from 2010):
Hey, a good title is a good title is a good title. As long as you’re not intentionally trying to draw readers away from another author’s work by using their title, no harm no foul (at least as far as copyright law is concerned).
What books can you think of that share same/similar titles?