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I’m rather bad at coming up with names for my books, so bad in fact, that my publisher renamed two of my three books. I didn’t mind at all, because the worst names they came up with were far better than my best ones. But this got me thinking about names in general. Are book titles really that important?
But apparently they are. Whilst researching this topic I read a few disturbing things, this one in particular shall add to my overall ‘aa’ (author- anxiety). Elv Moody, Publisher at Oxford University Press Children’s Books says ‘It’s not over-stating the case to say that a title can make or break a book.’ (And here we naive little authors thought it was all about the strength of our story, reliability and lovability of our characters and our unique voice)
So in an industry where we need to worry, and obsess about so many things already, we now have to consider that our titles could make us a bestseller, or plunge our book to the bottom of the sticky-icky slush-pile.
So I decided to investigate names, and this is what I discovered…
Firstly, I hate pretentious wanky titles that endeavor to show me how intellectually superior you are. They imply that when I (mere mortal) read this book, I am going to need to thumb through a dictionary just to understand what you, oh genius master of English words, has written for me, unenlightened barely educated culturally inept underling.
Another hate of mine would be those hipstery-names. They differ ever so slightly from the above in that the authors are not necessarily intellectually superior to their readers, they do however have a bigger Instagram following and wrote the book only to be ironic whilst sipping on Vegan coffee and listening to obscure music on vinyl. Like this pearly little gem of hipsterdom;
“Eeeee Eee Eeee” by Tao Lin”
This has got to be the most hipster name that has ever been conceived of. I can imagine the conversation prior to naming the book. “But titles are just too mainstream. Let’s not give it a title at all, let’s just give it sounds….” *author runs his fingers thoughtfully through his beard and then types away on his vintage typewriter.
But in amongst all the horror, I also found some amazing ones. One of my favorite names out there, hands down, is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
And I guess this proves the point. I would buy this book solely based on its title alone. I’ve come to the conclusion that my preference lies in titles that don’t take themselves too seriously. It makes me feel that the authors don’t either, and that is always the best kind of writer, one who isn’t totally up their own arse.
But this is probably my all time fave…. When will Jesus bring back the Pork Chops.
I would definitely read that! But what I would not read (despite its supposed brilliance) is Love in a time of Cholera. After reading that Cholera is “an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated” I just cannot imagine love being vaguely conducive to it. There are no two things more opposite than a massive dose of diarrhea, and love.
Delving into the world of book covers even more, I also discovered these;
- I’ll give this title one thing, you know exactly what you’re going to be reading about. But other than that, there are just so many things wrong with it. a; if you do not know how to avoid huge ships- ships that can be seen from miles away- do NOT get into a boat and sail the seas. b; this book was so important that it made it into a second edition, and finally, c; how often do huge ships collide with smaller ones? Enough that someone felt it necessary to write a book about it.
2. And perhaps some more thought should have gone into these!
3. Anything that has the phrase ‘Anally Yours’ in its title should reconsider even existing. (But more on Chuck Tingle later, I have a whole blog post planned just for him) P.s I was unaware of the unicorn’s nautical proclivities.
4. Not only are these titles questionable, but their subject matter isn’t far behind either.
5. This author also wrote, “God Loves me, why can’t I get my locker open.”
So in conclusion, I am happy to report that I am not the only author who is bad at coming up with names.