As horror authors, we can only dream of conjuring up a title so sinister it sends a chill down our soon-to-be-readers' spines. And a horror book title generator just might make that ̶d̶r̶e̶a̶m̶ nightmare come true.
Horror is the goth little sister of the literary family—kinda fun, kinda weird, and brings the necessary spice to keep things interesting. Nothing hits like a good horror story, but there’s something standing between a reader and their next favorite scary book: The title.
Without a killer title, your horrifying tale may never be told! The power of a well-crafted title is everything. Let’s look at some tips for writing strong horror titles, examples of famously done titles, and then talk about the (free!) tool that will create your next title for you.
Access the tool: AI Book Title Generator
This Horror Book Title Generator & Guide Covers
5 Tips for writing terrifying titles
A good horror book title generator (whether that generator is YOU or a tool) should come up with something that accomplishes several objectives. It needs to grab attention, accurately represent the content in your book, and appeal to the right target demographic.
But an excellent horror book title is a piece of art in itself! Here are five tips for crafting the perfect book title – whether you decide to use a horror book title generator or nothing but your own creativity.
One of the biggest draws of a scary book is that it’s scary! It makes you feel intense emotions. With themes like isolation, grief, terror, and explorations of our deepest fears, horror aims to draw out strong feelings in the reader. A good horror book title should be a little taste of that on its own.
So, think of what emotion you want to convey to your reader, and try to apply it to the title.
For example, Stephen King's “Misery” immediately conjures a feeling of helplessness, while Edgar Allan Poe's “The Tell-Tale Heart” implies a chilling secret waiting to be revealed.
A successful horror title should pique curiosity without giving away too much. Leave room for interpretation and uncertainty, letting readers' imaginations run wild.
Titles like Shirley Jackson's “The Haunting of Hill House” and H.P. Lovecraft's “The Call of Cthulhu” invoke a sense of mystery that beckons readers to explore the enigmatic worlds within.
What’s haunting Hill House? What does Cthulhu want, and why won’t he shut up?
A horror book title generator can be especially good a creative, ambiguous titles that you wouldn't have otherwise thought of!
Edit out the fluff
Simplicity can often be more impactful than complexity. You might strive for brevity while maintaining an element of tension. Short, impactful phrases can leave an immediate and lasting impression.
Anne Rice's “Interview with the Vampire” succinctly captures the allure and danger of the supernatural, as well as hinting at the narrative intimacy the reader can expect with said vampire.
Match the tone of the book
There are many different types of tones in writing, and the one you choose depends on your cast of characters, the type of horror you are writing, and your own personal style. For example, the differences between horror and thriller books call for different tones. One is downright scary, while the other is characterized by a tense feeling – or even confusion.
What is certain is that your chosen title should reflect and represent the overall tone and/or atmosphere of your story (whatever you choose it to be). If your story is a slow-burn psychological thriller, words like “whisper,” “shadow,” and “trace” might be more fitting than an aggressive, gory title.
Play into symbolism
Incorporating symbolism – even if unknown – can add depth and layers to your book before someone even read the first page. It intrigues readers while providing a glimpse into the thematic content of your book.
William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist” does a great job indicating the literal content—possession, demons, Catholicism, etc—but it also symbolizes the inner demons haunting the characters.
As you can see, an effective horror book title is at once simple and incredibly difficult. You should start thinking on the title during or even before writing your first rough draft. Not only does the title work with the story to create its own little art piece, but the title is a huge marketing and book positioning tool – if it sounds boring or trite, it just won’t sell as well.
Similarly, if the title is misleading, you might stack up more 1-star reviews than is ideal.
So, are you ready to give it a try? Check out the horror book title generator here. Otherwise, keep reading for some more inspiration and tips for getting the most out of this free tool.
Access the tool: AI Book Title Generator
Examples of famous and iconic horror book titles
Let’s look at a few strong examples of horror titles from famous works.
“Dracula” by Bram Stoker
A timeless classic, Stoker's “Dracula” remains a paragon of horror literature. Its title immediately conjures images of the iconic vampire, evoking a sense of dread and fascination.
And even before Dracula became a famous literary figure, this word had significance. “Dracula” is derived from the Latin word for “dragon,” a creature historically associated with demons.
“Psycho” by Robert Bloch
A title that taps into the psychological horror subgenre, “Psycho” captures the enigmatic and unsettling nature of the human mind. It lets us know the type of person we’re dealing with, as well as being indicative of the genre itself. It’s a snappy, concise, iconic title.
“Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury
Borrowed from a line in Shakespeare's “Macbeth,” (“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes) this title sets a foreboding tone and hints at the arrival of malevolent forces. We know immediately the story involves supernatural elements, and specifically, that those elements have ill intent.
It’s also just super metal.
“Bird Box” by Josh Malerman
Short and evocative, this title draws attention to the unknown and the unseen, mirroring the story's theme. There is a literal bird in a box, but it is a metaphor for how the characters are also like boxed birds—technically safe, but denied real freedom.
“Bird Box” is also an unusual pairing of words, making it immediately iconic. If you can craft a horror book title so unique, your book and author website might easily appear quite high in Google results. Think about it!
“The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris
This title is an exemplar of psychological terror, invoking both the quiet manipulation of Hannibal Lecter and the unsettling nature of the crimes. It also works as a metaphor for murder victims—lambs are slaughtered, and then they are silent.
“World War Z” by Max Brooks
A title that sends shivers down the spine, “World War Z” immediately conveys the global scale of the undead apocalypse. I don’t know if rhyming with World War III was intentional, but it does evoke that same unsettling feeling upon mention.
Related: Best Horror Audiobooks
A step-by-step how-to: using the horror book title generator
If coming up with the perfect horror title is sounding like, well, a nightmare, we got you! Here’s how to use our horror book title generator to create a spooky, thrilling, and, most importantly, sellable title for your next horror story.
Step 1: Mosey on over to the horror title generator
We love the book title generator so much that we gave it its own page, but you can use the embedded one here as well. As a reminder, the book title generator works for any genre, fiction or nonfiction, but let’s look at how to create a horror book title.
Step 2: Insert information
The more you know about your book, the generator has enough to work with.
There are basically two ways to use it. One is to select “fiction,” from the first dropdown menu, then type in your book description. For example, I selected fiction, and the description I provided was: A young girl ventures into a swamp to ask the witch who lives there for a favor. When the girl arrives, she realizes the witch is nothing like how the townspeople had described.
The above description gave me this result:
If you don’t like the title, simply click “try again” to produce another!
If you don’t have a description yet, no worries! The second way to use the generator is with the following information:
- Your book genre
- Your book’s setting
- Your target audience
- A one-sentence description of your hero
Let’s try it!
Here are my first few results:
- Shadows of Deceit: Unveiling the Darkness (A Nervous Girl's Journey into the Enigmatic Abyss of Found Family, Betrayal, and Unlikely Love)
- Whispers in the Shadows: Unveiling the Darkness (An Unlikely Hero's Journey into a Twisted World of Found Family, Betrayal, and Love Born from Desperation)
- Whispers in the Dark: A Haunting Journey of Found Family and Treacherous Love (The Unsettling Tale of a Timid Heroine's Terrifying Quest to Uncover the Truth)
Step 3: Click generate
It’s a good idea to generate several titles, writing down the ones that you think have potential. You could do this 10 times or 100 times, up to you! Having too many options can make decisions impossible, but do you want enough to work with.
Step 4: Shuffle and edit
With your list of titles, start experimenting! You might take the title from one and the subtitle from another or merge several titles. You’ve probably noticed that the generator gives you a LOT of words—that means you can trim out the ones you don’t think work and still have plenty left. If you scroll Amazon titles, you’ll see authors utilizing those huge subtitles to work the algorithm. Don’t be afraid of a subtitle!
Titles are the middleman connecting your perfect reader to your scary story ideas and/or horror book. Use the tips and tools above to create a title worthy of introducing your story to the world.