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Mar 11, 2013

M.E. Monday #28–Why One Word Book Titles SUCK

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Calm down. It's not that serious. I just need to vent and this is how I'm going to do it. 

I was inspired by an article Mark syndicated over at the Masquerade Crew site called, Titles Make Me Crazy! It's written by an author named Toi Thomas who shares her frustrations over her own book's title and how it has been misinterpreted time and time again. You should check it out.

To me, a book's title is just as important as its cover (I have grown a strong appreciation for book covers over the past year and have come to realize their inherent value). Like the cover, the title must be catchy and draw a potential reader's eye to it. After the success of books like Twilight, one word book titles have exploded onto the literary scene. Rumor is, one word book titles make a larger impact. This is true, but not if everyone is using the same freaking word.

Take "Entangled". I did a Goodreads search and found twenty-seven books with this word as the sole title (not including the series title) on the first two pages of the search. If I had kept going, who knows how many I would have found. Did the same thing with "Breathless". Found thirty-three titles. Might not seem like a lot, but it really is.

Let's say a reader doesn't know your name or your face and all they have to go on to find your book is it's title. Maybe they've never seen your book cover before, or you've recently updated the cover from the one embedded in their memory. What now? How do they find your book? If you think they're about to click and read the synopsis of every book listed, you're nuts. They're not going to do that. Sure, a few will. But most will say "Screw it." There are just too many books out here for anyone to be wasting time launching a worldwide investigation just to find your book. 

Book titles should also tell me what your book is about. Hell, give me a clue, something. I can't tell you how many books I've passed on simply because the title was so obscure and meaningless. I'm sure I've passed up a few gems too, but those are the breaks. Make me want to give your book a second look by sticking it with a banging ass title. Insurgent is a novel that succeeds in doing this (though not so much with Divergent). "Insurgent" means 'rebel' or 'renegade', so right there I kind of know what I'm dealing with. A dystopian novel, probably.

Now my new novella that I'm about to release under my pseudonym A. Star is called, Invasion, and I'm already regretting naming it that. There are nine books with this title on Goodreads first page of search results and that is too many in my opinion. But at least there's a good side to this. Invasion=aliens, does it not? Most often, it does. This might just be enough to get alien-lovers to take a peek at the byline: She invaded his world. He invaded her heart. That's for the romance junkies. Aliens+Romance= That's what the book is about. 

I've come across way too many books that after serving me up a vague title, give me an even more cryptic byline. No author-person, I'm not as intrigued by this as you thought I would be. In fact, what else is out here to read?

With my Oracle of Delphi series, I hit the nail on the head with the titles, I think. The titles may be wordy to some, but they tell you exactly what the book is about: prophecies. Prophecy of the Most Beautiful. Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise. The bylines always reference to the future, and the name of the series itself ties up any loose ends. I think I did a pretty good job, but that is my biased opinion.

So to me, an author makes the best impact (on me) when they put a little more thought into the title of their book. Bottom line: be creative. Be the exception, not the rule.

 

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