A couple of different things have set me thinking about titles lately. I love titling stories, but there are times when trying to come up with a title can make you want to bang your head into something metal. Especially when you're trying so hard to get the exact right title. Something that is beautiful (or purposely not beautiful) and absolutely suited to the story. Something that will capture people's imaginations and make them want to know more.
Writers put a lot of responsibility on their titles. I've heard that if your book is accepted by a publisher there's a pretty good chance the title will be changed before publication, but that doesn't stop us from obsessing. (Does anything? :D ) I know that I'm not really comfortable with a book until I have something to call it.
But it can be a real challenge to figure that out. I usually have a working title until I'm done with the first draft. The working title is just there to let me know what story it is and to keep all its various files in the same place. It could be the name of an MC or a brief descriptive phrase that tells me about the setting. It usually depends on whether the MC or the setting is, in my mind, more essential to the book.
However, when it comes time to settle on an actual title, I open the story's file and try to come up with the concepts that are at the heart of the story. If, as with A Sign in Blood, the story is mostly about a specific character I concentrate on that character and their conflicts. The things that drive the story forward.
From those concepts and conflicts, I brainstorm a few key words. For A Sign in Blood the words were "blood, symbol, sign, death, murder, deity, family, home." Those are the book's basics. Very simplified, of course. I try to reduce things to their most basic form, so that I come up with words that have multiple connections to and meanings in the story. Then I put them together in different orders and phrases until I come up with something that I think represents the story, sounds good and will interest people.
And when that fails I borrow from poetry. Poets rock. :D
So what about you? What's your process for deciding on a title? How much stock do you put in your title and how much time do you spend on it?