Titling Your Memoirs

For some authors, a book’s title comes as a brainstorm before the first word is written. For others, titling their manuscript is an arduous process, completed only when the printer is calling for final changes. Naming your memoir is particularly challenging – almost like naming your child. You want something that fits. Something that encompasses the spirit and flavor of what lays inside.

But with careful thought, creativity, and insight, a poignant title is indeed possible. Take a look at these famously titled autobiographies that won the acclaim of readers and critics alike:

  • Me (Katherine Hepburn)
  • The Memoirs of an Amnesiac (Oscar Levant)
  • Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela)
  • I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow, Cause I Get Better Looking Every Day (Joe Namath)
  • Kiss and Make-Up (Gene Simmons)
  • Last Words (George Carlin)
  • Up From Slavery (Booker T. Washington)
  • Leading With My Chin (Jay Leno)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
  • Open (Andre Agassi)
  • Living History (Hillary Clinton)
  • Born Standing Up (Steve Martin)
  • The Story of My Experiments with Truth (M.K. Gandhi)
  • In Search of Identity (Anwar el-Sadat)
  • I Am Not Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
  • Wishful Drinking (Carrie Fisher)

You have nine months to name a child, right? Give yourself time and space to come up with a title for your autobiography that feels just right. Remember, your book’s title is the first and most prominent clue you’ll give readers about the contents of your memoir. It’s also the lasting association readers will carry with them after they close the book for the final time.

Think hard about your book title. Make it fit, make it good.

Make it you.