What’s In A Name? The Importance of a Good Title

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What’s in a name?  that which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet…Shakespeare

Well, that might have been true when Shakespeare was alive–before the age of the World Wide Web, but at this time, the names that we give things determine whether they survive the media glut or not. Naming things correctly is essential for being FOUND on the Internet and after that, they are important in capturing the interest of the potential viewers who might otherwise barely glance at the things named, as they whizz past them, on the computer.

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I spend a few hours each week, working as Children’s Librarian at my local library. Before I took that job, I had never considered it before, but FINDING a book that you might enjoy reading is difficult. When you walk into the library’s book collection, you see rows and rows of potential texts. At one time, people had more free time, and thumbing through a tome maze may have been enjoyable. Today, people are busy, and they have neither the time nor the interest in scouring through throngs of books.

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Imagine how much more pronounced the problem becomes when we no longer have a finite room of books to explore and when we have the infinite string of data that is available to us on the web. Naming things properly is one of the best ways that a creator has to stand out from the oversupply.

 I have written several articles about how Google plays a part in determining whether or not a blogger will be discovered on the web. In my article about using Google Keywords, I offer suggestions that will help you name things so that your work will surface at all. Here 

Especially in the arts, names play other important roles, too. For a scientific or mathematic treatise, the title of a book might be more straightforward, but for more creative works, the title of a piece needs to suggest the tone of the work that it is naming. I have begun writing poetry. If I titled a book of poetry Poems or even Jacki Kellum Poetry, I doubt that I’d spark a great deal of response, and those words are totally unlike the tone of my poetry.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a poem that I named On Silver Sheets, I Sail. The title of that piece is very much like the tone of the poem.

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On Silver Sheets, I Sail
by Jacki Kellum

Just before I open my eyes
I float along the misty skies.

I reach, I feel the soft, white hair
and fairy wings that flutter there.

I listen, I hear the slumber song,
The angel band that plays along

My dreams are in my pillow-pail.
On silver sheets, I sail.

©Jacki Kellum December 16, 2015

Last week, I wrote an article and shared several of my poems that stem from my being in the moment and writing from the present tense. As I read over my list of verses, I was reminded of how all of my poetry has that dreamy, misty, sheet-sailing tone to it. I have been wrangling with what might be a good name for my own book of poetry, and there it was: On Silver Sheets, I Sail. Quite honestly, I could name my entire autobiography the same thing. In short, I DO Sail on Silver Sheets, and I always have done so.

Granted, a title should also have a more practical suffix–something that Google will recognize–like my complete title might be- On Silver Sheets, I Sail: Jacki Kellum Poetry. But the Silver Sheets part of the title is the part that has the potential for connecting with a passerby. Because I have worked two years at creating a brand from the name Jacki Kellum, Google would more likely jump on that.

In summary, there is value in infusing your title with as much lyricism as you do your work itself. Your title is like a red carpet that you roll out before your work–it is the way that you set a stage for your writing or your art. Bottom line: A rose by any other name would NOT smell as sweet–at least not if it was sniffed from clear across the World Wide Web.

©Jacki Kellum January 5, 2015

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