Because of the unique ISBN number, book titles are mostly not trademark protected, unless they are huge successes like Harry Potter or Twilight, or popular non-fiction series like Chicken Soup for the Soul ®, and the Dummies ® books series. Some authors, of course, try to capitalise on the success of a similar title, the classic scenario being Fifty Shades of Grey, where there are many similar titles (some of these parodies). Before Fifty Shades, however, there were numerous books called Shades of Grey.
Choosing a title for your book is a challenge, not so much because of the risk of trademark breach, but because it needs to be memorable and hopefully different from other books (particularly in the same genre) so as not to confuse the prospective buyer. But there’s always the chance you will discover a book already has your preferred title, or subsequent to publishing your book, another author may call their work the same title.
In my case, before selecting No Remorse as the title of my first novel in November 2009, I considered fifteen titles: The Blue Aliya, Stormy, The Fortress, The Cave of Nzwani, The Game We Play, Beyond Control, Dark Waters, Taran 357, The Prince, The Prophecies of Enoch, Deniable Justice, Deniable Sanction, The Cavern of Anjouan, The Cargo, The Taran Assignment, and finally, No Remorse.
My next book is tentatively entitled “Bait”. A few months ago an Australian movie was released called “Bait” about a shark that eats people in a supermarket after being washed ashore in a tsunami. Nothing like my book. Should I change my title? We’ll see.
At the time I chose my title No Remorse, I checked and could only find one book with a similar title, With No Remorse, by Cindy Gerard, published in July 2011 (18 months after I selected my title but six months before I published). If Cindy’s title had been No Remorse I would have used a different title. Recently, I found that several other books have been published with a similar or the same title. A more thorough search revealed that, in fact, there were other books called No Remorse before mine. One dated back to 1997.
The oldest book with the title No Remorse I’ve discovered goes back to the year 1997. Written by Luke Williamson, it’s a story about a riverboat captain turned private detective in the US reconstruction period. http://www.amazon.com/Remorse-Williamson-Masey-Baldridge-Mystery/dp/0802733026
This is the latest one, published in November 2012 by RF Sharp: http://www.amazon.com/No-Regrets-Remorse-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00A2H95X4 Sydney Simone is a ‘human pest controller’
Before that came http://www.amazon.com/Remorse-Book-Heart-Series-ebook/dp/B007P6CT9M Amber is a werewolf…
Here’s Cindy Gerard’s version. http://www.amazon.com/With-No-Remorse-ebook/dp/B004IK92P2 A black ops operative saves a woman from being kidnapped.
Here are the rest:
This one’s interesting because it has eyes on the cover, like my cover. Totally coincidental. Laura is a research geneticist whose murderous dreams one day become a reality. http://www.amazon.com/No-Remorse-Jennifer-Goodhand/dp/0741404419
http://www.amazon.com/NO-REMORSE-ebook/dp/B005OC2XNQ (Sep 2011) Nitram’s non-fiction story is about a criminal in war-torn London.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Remorse-ebook/dp/B006ZU787M (Jan 2012) A crime mystery.
http://www.amazon.com/NO-REMORSE-ebook/dp/B006ZG5ZD0 (2006) About a disturbed girl Elaine.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Remorse-Kensington/dp/0786013877 (2000) Non fiction, about a serial killer.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Remorse-Rise-Killer-Wallace/dp/1588382648 (2011) Non fiction, about a murderer and well known businessman John Wallace.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Show-Remorse-David-Walker/dp/0312252404 (2002) Crime and corruption in Chicago.
http://www.amazon.com/No-Remorse-Scott-Bounds/dp/1615467386 (2010) The impact of organized crime on individuals. Kayden Sullivan goes to work for the local mob boss.
http://www.amazon.com/Remorse-Stories-South-Africa/dp/0921966032 (2004) Fiction stories from South Africa.