The author of Sunset Beach (2009) and Beach Dreams (2008), Trish Perry lives in Northern Virginia with her hilarious teenaged son. She discovered her love of writing while earning a degree in Psychology. She switched career paths in 1997 and never looked back. Her debut novel, The Guy I’m Not Dating, placed second in the 2007 FHL Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, and her second novel, Too Good to Be True, finaled in the 2008 FHL IRCC, the GRW Maggie Awards, and LCRW’s Barclay Gold Awards.
A TITLE ONLY AN AUTHOR COULD LOVE
And the Award Goes to . . .
How likely are you to plunk down twenty hard-earned dollars for a book called How to Avoid Huge Ships? No? How about Bombproof Your Horse? Or Living with Crazy Buttocks? What do you mean, you’re not interested? These are award-winning titles!
Not award-winning books. Just the titles.
Since 1979 the British literary magazine, The Bookseller, has held an annual contest for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year. This year’s finalists are:
Baboon Metaphysics [Who knew monkeys cared about the time-space continuum?]
The Large Sieve and Its Applications [Of interest to big, pasta-eating families, no doubt.]
Strip and Knit with Style [Like strip poker for the older set, perhaps?]
Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring [And I thought my job was boring.]
The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais [That’s cheese, folks, and ain’t no such thing as a container that small, so something’s definitely up with that.]
Curbside Consultation of the Colon [Absolutely no comment.]
Now, we can do better than that, right? We want our titles to stand out, but not for being weird. And not for sounding duller than . . . well, corrosion monitoring.
So how do we arrive at the perfect title? Naturally, many authors seek Scripture for inspiration. But see if any of these authors’ ideas help you the next time your title eludes you.
Pamela James says, “I take the theme of the book and think of an interesting way to say it, then take the best word out of the sentence and use it. Better yet if it can have a double meaning.”
Besides using a thesaurus to stir her imagination, Anita Higman says sometimes, “the title is hidden in the manuscript just waiting to be found.” Similarly, Linda Rondeau looks for her title in “something a character thinks or says.”
When Julie Lessman was an adolescent and madly in love with Gone with the Wind, she was determined to use “wind” in her book titles. Her three Passion titles all started out as Wind titles. Seems Revell thought passion would draw more readers than the wind!
Review personal notes you’ve written in the past. Brenda Lott (Maggie Brendan) discovered a title in a lovely phrase she wrote about her late brother.
Personally, I wrote two books after being given the titles by my publisher. Jennifer AlLee prefers to work that way. “I’ve got to have a title before I start writing,” she says. “To me, it sets the tone and puts me in the right mind-set to move forward.”
When really strapped, steal! Debra Ullrick says, “I stole Danger Never Knocks from a friend. . . . She decided she would never use it, so she’s letting me.” By all means, ask friends for ideas when stuck.
All published authors know one thing for sure. As Wanda Dyson says, “I come up with something just so I know which book I’m working on, but I don’t marry the title because I know it will be changed.”
Unless, of course, you name your tome Baboon Metaphysics.