Which One Won? Making murder mystery book titles fresh

There are thousands and thousands of murder mystery book titles in the world. If you’re a mystery writer, this can be disheartening. How can your book find a home in that crowd?

The good thing is that people who love reading mysteries will always want more. You just have to make sure your murder mystery book title stands out.

That’s why one author brought two titles to PickFu for a round of split-testing with the simple question, “Which book would you buy?”

Here are the two options:

  • A Map for Murder, Option A
  • Murder at Packsaddle Mountain, Option B

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…Option A, A Map for Murder, with 66 points to Option B’s 34.

Here’s what respondents had to say.

It stands out

If you want to stand out from the crowd of mystery novels, don’t choose a book title that’s been done to death.

“There is always the haunting at so-and-so or the murder at so-and-so,” said one respondent, hinting that Option B was far too common a title.

“[Option A] has a way more unique name,” added another respondent. “[Option B] sounds like other book and movie titles and all that.”

It rolls off the tongue

Many respondents noted that Option B is a mouthful compared to the short and sweet A Map for Murder. “This came down to the fact that it took my brain a second to process the work ‘packsaddle,’ ” wrote one male. “I really don’t like titles that don’t flow well.”

Another male added that “Packsaddle Mountain just does not roll off the tongue well.”

Remember: if your title is difficult to say, it’ll be easier to forget.

There’s more potential for mystery and murder

While it’s short, Option A’s title hints at the several intriguing directions the book could go.

Said one respondent, “A Map for Murder sounds much more intriguing to me. Like is it a map to do a murder? Or a map to find a murder. Lots of directions to take based on that title.”

Other respondents agreed, writing, “A Map For Murder sounds more intriguing and exciting to me, it seems like there’s more adventure and exploration,” and “[Option A] sounds more playful and hints at the theme of the book (hiking, exploring, etc.), while [Option B] is just a straightforward fact.”

There’s a lot more possibility in Option A, and all of it is interesting.

Key takeaways for murder mystery book titles

Deviate a bit from the standard murder mystery book titles. Use the title to tease the theme, plot, and tension within the pages.

And no matter what type of book you’re writing, make sure to say your title ideas out loud several times to make sure they roll easily off the tongue.

If you need help deciding which title to use for a book you’re writing, select an audience of fiction readers and split-test your book titles on PickFu. You’ll get results back in as little as 15 minutes.

Laura Ojeda Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle-grade novel, Missing Okalee, was published in the fall of 2021 by Shadow Mountain Publishing.