Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Search of Dynamite, Must-Buy Titles

Not too long ago I asked on my blog what is the #1 thing that prompts you as a reader to buy a book. At that time, I said it was the blurb. But last night when I was looking at books again, I never read a single blurb. First, I looked to see if I knew any of the authors or if any were on my auto buy list. This time, nada. By now I've been on enough writers loops and gone to enough RT conventions and other writers conventions that I know a lot of other writers, so this is unusual. Next I perused the titles. This was at Walmart and I was in the romance section which is a pretty small section at Walmart, so it was primarily books by a couple publishers. I couldn't get past one single title. Not one enticed me to pick up the book and read the blurb. And I used to devour books by these publishers. Why? All the titles just turned me off. They seemed pretty, well, insipid. Not saying that I've come up with wonderful titles - I know it's really tough to sum up a story and wet a reader's appetite in just a few short words. It's damned tough. I've also heard that in larger publishers the author usually doesn't get that last say in the title. In this case I doubt it as all the titles sound pretty much alike to me. I mean titles like: (state) Ranger Takes A Wife The Tycoon's Proposal Crazy About Her Boss The Groom's Secret (name) and the Playboy Prince The Mom and Her Boss The Millionaire's Secret The Boss's Assistant Her Sheikh Boss His Pregnant Woman The Desert Sheikh The Doctor's Love Child I changed the titles a bit, but the drift is the same. I'm trying to pinpoint it. These titles don't grab me. In fact, they're repelling me. I know I love these books when I start reading them, so I'm beginning to think I'll just pick up a few without looking at the titles and then dig in. So what titles grab me and make me want to read more? Here's one I bought for the title alone as it gave me a laugh: "Phi Beta Bimbo" Here's some others that make me want to read the blurb: Dating Without Novacaine Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate Sorcery and the Single Girl Notes from the Backseat Welcome to the Real World Questions to Ask Before Marrying Wednesday Night Witches Tales of a Drama Queen Confessions of a Shopaholic Loose Screws These are just a sampling of titles that make me laugh or at least make me ask "why?" so that I at least pick up the book and read the blurb. At least they give me reason to look further and hopefully get me hooked. So I'm revising my earlier statement. It's the title that really grabs me, not the blurb. Now, ask me if I can come up with great titles? Ever? A couple times (I hope and then usually with my friend's help). All the time? Certainly not. But I'm trying. What is the trick to coming up with dynamite, must-buy titles? Inquiring minds want to know. I mean I really really need to know. My career's at stake. Recently I thought I came up with a dynamite title. I really loved it. I thought for once that I was dead on. Guess what? I got a note from my editor that the publisher wanted to change it. I don't know why. I can only guess she had a similar title or that she didn't like it. I didn't fight it and I'm not complaining now. This is just an observation and me scratching my chin in bewilderment. Just the opposite happened when I first started writing. I'd heard that the publishers ALWAYS changed the titles so I didn't think it mattered much what I called the book - and then the publisher kept my titles. Oops. Obviously, I'm no mind reader (I've not won the lotto yet and retired from the day job, right? Although I am in the office lotto pool so if we win big, our company no longer has a trained customer service staff.) So let me ask everyone in blog land: If you're a fellow writer how do you come up with titles? If you're a reader, what type of titles do you like or dislike? You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)


Sandra Cox said...

Titles, that's a tough one for most of us. I try to go with short one to two words and hope it grabs.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I will occassionally check out titles just to see what's hot (like bosses and shiehks apparently) but rarely want to pick one up. Sad isn't it? For the most part, I think ebook writers are very creative with titles. Too back they won't simply ask us.

Anny Cook said...

Hmmm. Well, I can tell you that I definitely won't read anything with doctor, sheik, pregnant, secret, or billionaire in the title.

After that? Something a little offbeat maybe. My own titles are pretty blah. And our publisher kind of likes them to be a tad suggestive, though that isn't always possible.

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