Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If book titles told the truth....

by Miriam

Authors, agents and publishers tend to agonize over book titles. You want something evocative, witty, literary, whimsical, muscular, funny, quirky, different, but not too different, alliterative, lyrical, short…. You basically want the equivalent of the advertising jingle you can’t get out of your head. But, as Dan Wilbur points out, readers are sometimes flummoxed by titles that give them no hint of what the story they’re going to spend hours, days, sometimes months trying to get through is about or that don’t quite prepare them for the experience they’re about to embark upon (good or painful).

Some titles, of course, are exquisitely straightforward (The Old Man and the Sea, for instance, pretty much sums up what you’re up against with the longest short novel ever), but there are plenty that are headscratchers. What are some of the titles you’d like changed for clarity’s sake and what would their replacements be?

4 comments:

  1. That potato peel pie one. I just don't understand how publishers/authors think people can buy their book if they can't remember the name. Honestly, if it's more than about 5 words and it's not a famous saying, you probably lost me already.

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  2. I think "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" should have stayed "Men Who Hate Women". :)

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  3. Oh my gosh, the potato peel pie one is right! I feel like there should be 2 rules: (1) If it's too long to remember, it's no good; and (2) if you'd be embarrassed to ask for it in the book store -- like the book "The Hot Flash Club" for instance -- the name needs work.

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  4. Who can ask for "The Vagina Monologues" without whispering it?

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