Titles and characters: choices with marketing in mind

Catriona Tippin

You’ve written your book. You’re researching your social media strategy. Here are some tips on spotting marketing problems at the proofreading stage – a heads up on how your title and your characters’ names translate into website (domain) names and hashtags. 

An author website may be useful and that’s a domain name you don’t need to think about too much, unless you’re toying with a middle initial, or a nom de plume. Acquire the .com extension if you can. You may plan to use (or squat on) a website that features your title. 

Try out your title as a domain name or hashtag. Runthewordstogether and check for unfortunate juxtapositions. ‘But that’s not all’ and ‘butthatsnotall’ demonstrate this phenomenon. Further sources of juvenile sniggering may be found by searching the internet for website name fails. It’s a potential problem worth checking. 

Short titles make searching easy. Think about your use of numbers in a title too. It’s conventional in the text to spell out in full numbers one to nine, then use digits for 10 and above. If used in a title either form may apply, but a tweet limited to 140 characters will favour the four characters of ‘1000’ over the 12 characters of ‘one thousand’. 

Avoid the temptation to use any of this lot for email addresses/websites/webpages: 

  • CamelCase or camelCase depends on uppercase letters separating words 
  • spinal-case-uses-hyphens 
  • Train-Case-Uses-Hyphens and uppercase letters 
  • Snake_case_has_underscores_between_words 

Leave all of these for the exclusive use of computer coders and programmers. Domain names (including the domain part of email addresses) are not case sensitive and hyphens may get forgotten. Email addresses should be simple and therefore memorable. 

Avoid punctuation marks in your title, for instance, contractions that need an apostrophe (I’m, let’s, they’re, it’s) or possessives (Carrie’s, Charlotte’s). The punctuation will have to be deleted for a subsequent website name or hashtag and leave an awkward (illiterate?) version of your title. 

Think about words with two spellings; if one forms part of a potential website name it may lead to the need to buy an additional domain name and redirect from it to your main site. Alternative spellings are often Americanisms, but UK English includes curtsy or curtsey, nosy or nosey, smoky or smokey. And there’s gaol or jail. 

Check the abbreviation formed by the initial letters of your title. It doesn’t need to be catchy or memorable, just avoid any unfortunate acronyms. This might matter when your title inspires a trending hashtag. 

Your protagonist may deserve similar attention – they may earn their own website or start trending on Twitter.

  • Run your characters’ first and last name together and look for dodgy juxtapositions again.
  • Sometimes you can be too familiar with your characters’ names, get someone else to read them and say them out loud. There are various tricks to choosing a character name; for marketing in the digital age a couple of these have taken on more significance.
  • Avoid ending the first name with the letter which starts the last name.
  • Avoid ‘loaded’ names (Bart, Hannibal, Kanye, etc).
  • Search for the name on Google for any unfortunate coincidences or existing existences. 

When publicising your book these details may matter. 

Catriona Tippin aka @ProofReadingTip will be back next month with more proofreading tips. To see previous tips, click on this proofreading link.

Catriona Tippin has been a member of SCBWI since 2006 and helps organise venues for SCBWI North East. Details of her writing and illustrating here. She proofreads study guides, house magazines and publicity material for two national educational charities, in addition to working on a variety of proofreads and copyedits for the growing self-published world. Her monthly column is intended to give you food for thought, remembering “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling or typographical error” (McKean’s Law, named after its inventor Erin McKean, editor of the Oxford American Dictionary). 


  1. wow, really useful advice! thanks!

  2. Thanks, Catriona - this is really practical advice about stuff that authors can easily miss.

  3. This is such good advice, Catriona. Thank you.
    I_also_love-theWay sentences-like-this have a label!

  4. Great article, really useful thoughts which I wouldn't have ever thought of. Thank you

  5. Useful advice whatever month you're in - thanks! I enjoy the letter bump in the middle of my name - Roalddahl has it on his website too ;)

  6. "unfortunate coincidences or existing existences" Did you make that unfortunate coincidence on purpose?

    "which we means we get" Proofread.

    1. Hello Richard, thank you for taking the time to comment!
      Knowing Catriona's style, I have a feeling 'extistences' may well be intentional - I quite like it.

      I can't find your second example ( this is why I'm NOT a proofreader!) but it's reassuring to remember
      as Catriona points out in her bio that ' “Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling or typographical error” (McKean’s Law, named after its inventor Erin McKean, editor of the Oxford American Dictionary). '

  7. It probably has been well initiated out here and would almost help students in governing all those values which must be understood by them.


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