Choosing A Title For A Story

book cover of Piggy Monk Square by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about choosing a book coverI made the final decision to call my novel Piggy Monk Square in 2005.

At that time the decision was made after discussions with the publisher.

The title was my choice but it was an influenced choice.

Now, years later, the rights have reverted back to me and I am now getting set to republish.

If you are interested in the reaction to the original book there are some reviews here.

The process of republishing wasn’t as easy as simply uploading the file to Amazon etc., but then I didn’t really think it would be.

I did hope it wouldn’t be too difficult and until now it hasn’t been.

I had a new cover designed and held a contest on 99 designs to get the best design I could and I have been really happy with the outcome.

However, (and there’s always a however for writers) something occurred to me yesterday evening and this something kept me awake all night.


What happened was somebody posted an image on Facebook of one of the real places that inspired the story.

I had not been near this place for some forty odd years and when I saw the image my mind froze. I couldn’t stop staring.

old terraced houses and school

Photograph Courtesy Of Edward Todd

My memory had made the houses bigger and more vivid.

In placing a story here I added some fictional elements and changed some real ones but the original place was still with me, deep in my mind.


It had hidden from my thinking mind for a long time.

Meanwhile, in my thinking mind, the fictional place I had created had supplanted the original place.

My fiction had become real to me.

I had done something else too. I had changed the name of the place. Staring at this image after all this time I was reminded that as kids we called this place Piggy Muck Square not Piggy Monk Square – the book title.


Photograph Courtesy Of Edward Todd

Back when I went to school there in the late 1960s and early 1970s Piggy Muck Square was the reality back then.

It was the colloquial name given to the area around the school I attended and through common usage, it eventually became the name of the school as well.

At the time of the original publication there were many reasons to go with the original title, Piggy Monk Square, and yet now something has stirred in my mind and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I have the opportunity to change the title and I am beginning to feel I should.

old prefab school

Photograph Courtesy Of Edward Todd

I won’t do anything for now though.

Changing a book title is a huge decision and would involve changes to the cover and marketing images.

Although these are not major obstacles and the designer has kindly agreed to provide me with two versions – one with Piggy Monk Square and one with Piggy Muck Square.

This will give me something I need more of at the moment – time to think.

Time has always been a compelling factor in my decisions – things can and do always change, so I’m going to let time influence this decision but as always, I will keep you posted and I’d love to hear about your own experiences with titles.

Best wishes


P.S. Update!  I decided to keep my original title. Changing it would have caused too many complications – and I think the best course of action is always to keep things simple!

With a very big thanks to Edward Todd for letting me use his wonderful photographs of ‘Piggy Muck Square.’

book cover of Piggy Monk Square by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about choosing a book cover

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8 Responses to Choosing A Title For A Story

  1. Ali Isaac October 8, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Hi Grace, well this feels like a major pivotal point in this books history! What will you do? How strange that these images should come into your life now, stirring such hidden, long-forgotten memories. All I can say is, some things are just meant to be. Think as much as you like, and then go with your gut instinct… its usually right… and good luck!

    Oh and btw, I changed my book title quite some time after publication. Book 1 started out just as The Four Treasures of Eirean. Changing it to Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean gave a much better indication of the type of book it was and where it sat ‘on the shelf’ so to speak, ie alongside Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Arthur Quinn, Percy Jackson… Sometimes these things just have to be done!
    Best of luck, Ali

    • Grace October 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      Indeed Ali, I was totally shocked – not just seeing the images but also by the way it released hidden memories. Luckily I do have time to think.
      I think you are right to add the Conor Kelly – adding the character does help define your genre as you say.

      Best wishes and thanks,

      • Mary Rose October 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

        Your reaction to those images really brought your thoughts and imagination to light. I agree though go with your own instinct. I have always struggled with titles for books and articles!

        • Grace October 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

          Thanks Mary Rose,
          Going with the instinct is almost always right but titles can throw up infinite possibilities.
          Best of luck with your work

  2. Chris-Jean Clarke October 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Hi Grace,

    First of all, congratulations on having had your book picked up by a traditional publisher. Your reviews are awesome.

    With regards to a new title the following spring to mind: Sparra’s Nest; Sparra’s Old Hunting Ground or The Chirpy Little Sparra.

    I have self-published a short story called, ‘Beth’s Style Change’. This started out as ‘Red!’ but had to be changed due to a mistake made by a major on-line book seller.

    The title of my historical fiction story, however which is a wip & an extension of a 5,000 word story I penned has never changed. It is called ‘Honesty in WW2’.

    I truly wish you well with your writing career & hope your book flies off the shelves, whichever title you opt for.


    • Grace October 11, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comments. I will probably stick with one of the two possibilities mentioned because the book has history but thanks for the suggestions – they are nice titles.
      Best of luck with your stories – keep in touch.


  3. Mary Rose October 11, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Apart from my garden blog, my writing has so far primarily been academic which can sometimes be a constraint in terms of titles. The title of mine with the best story though is ‘Invisible on Everest: Innovation and the Gearmakers’. The book is a history of clothing and equipment for mountaineering and outdoor activities. After months struggling for a title I was driving up the motorway one day thinking about an interview I had done with a particularly innovative designer. He said ‘ The best gear is invisible, it has to be because climbers need to be able to concentrate on the job in hand’. Whoopee I thought there is a basis for the title.
    The interview was in 2000 and yet I can still picture myself sitting in the designer’s room with my old fashioned tape recorder!
    Best wishes

    • Grace October 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

      Oh those old tape recorders… ‘Invisible on Everest’ is a great title though – does what it says on the cover…
      All the best


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