In my previous novel about a plane crash one of the characters, an aircraft crash investigator, gets a phone call about the crash and on learning the details “… he knew it was a fatal impact.” As soon as I wrote the chapter, I knew I had the title, so, Fatal Impact became the title of my first novel.
Since book titles are not copyrighted, you can have a title that was used for previous books. The big caveat with this is you don’t want to use a title of some famous work or have your title the same as another book and also have a similar plot.
It wouldn’t be a good idea to title your novel about American expatriates traveling to Pamplona for the running of the bulls, The Sun Also Rises. You might find yourself sued by the Hemingway estate. Even if your book, titled The Grapes of Wrath, was about housewives pulling off a bank job and not a poor 1930’s dust bowl family traveling to California, you probably wouldn’t want to use the title. But, a title similar to the work of a novelist who’s not an American icon, particularly if it didn’t hit the bestseller list, probably wouldn’t cause a ripple.
Next time I’ll give you a listing of ideas to help you develop your novel’s title.