Tuesday, October 04, 2022

The Perfect Title

 by Charlotte Hinger

I wasted a lot of time this morning searching for the perfect title for my new mystery. It didn't work. I'm going to have to reply on my stumble-across method. I liked my previous title, Brutal Bonds, but it's no longer the right fit. 

The title of the first book in the Lottie Albright series was originally Bound by Blood. I had planned for subsequent books to be Bound by Murder, Bound by Death. . . .You get the drift. 

My editor told me that clerks at bookstores don't have the time to read all the books they shelve. Bound by Blood could easily end up in the vampire section. Egads. We couldn't have that! So I began each book with two alliterative words: Deadly Descent, Lethal Lineage, Hidden Heritage, Fractured Families. These combinations are hard to think up. 

I'll bet something comes to me out of the blue beginning with a C, E, or B. My mental processes seem to work that way. 

I've heard one should never judge a book by it's cover, but does anyone doubt the power of a title? It absolutely transforms business books. Examples are Swimming With The Sharks, Atomic Habits, Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Millionaire Next Door. The ones that promise instant wealth grab my attention in a heartbeat. 

All the non-fiction historical books sell better with a catchy title. Fiction sells better too. The problem is coming up with one in this competitive business. 

The funniest story about titles I've heard was told by a veteran novelist at a writer's convention. He turned in his book and the editor said he didn't like the book, but he really liked the title. The writer said, "well, why don't I just jack up that title and run a new book under it. The editor agreed. By the time he turned in the second book, the editor had moved on to another house. The new editor just loved the book, but asked if he minded changing the title. He really disliked it. 

I was not enchanted by the one word titles. Suddenly there were too many books with the same title. Example are Gone, Never, Drift, Lost, Driven. When I recommended one of these books to fellow readers, I had to remember the author's name, too. 

Frankly, when I go into Barnes and Noble or my local book store, Firehouse Books, all of the titles appeal to me. Every single one. The titles overcome my fiscal judgement. 

No comments: