Writing Messes With Your Mind (Book Title Edition)
When I started law school, everyone said, “They’ll teach you how to think like a lawyer.” And everyone was right. Even though I no longer practice law, I still have a tendency to analyze things like a lawyer, structuring arguments to support my points, negotiating solutions, etc.
When I started writing books, no one Said, “They’ll teach you how to think like an author.” But they should have. Especially where titles are involved.
Cases in point:
Last week, I learned about a new anthology, UP AND COMING, which will print stories by authors who are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. (Those are fantasy and science fiction writers.) I think the idea of the anthology is a wonderful one–it’s a fantastic opportunity for new voices to be heard. But I think the title of the anthology is worse than a disaster. Maybe I spend too much time reading romance (and it’s more out-there cousin, erotic romance, and, let’s face it, some outright erotica), but UP AND COMING has a distinct sexual connotation to me. I can’t stop smirking, like a teen-age boy.
And then, today, I read a blog post about book promotion. The author has a series of gritty thrillers–you know the type, with serial killers and cybercrimes, etc. And the books are all named after nursery rhymes–GINGERBREAD MAN and HICKORY DICKORY DOCK and TWINKLE LITTLE STAR. I get the cool irony–really, I do. But I wonder how many times the author is going to have to explain that the books are meant for adults and not for kids.
My own Harmony Springs series is proving a bit of a challenge. I purposely chose to title the first two books after Sinatra songs — FLY ME TO THE MOON and JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS. In the first book, the song is integral to the story. In the second book, the specific line “It’s just one of those things” is delivered at a crucial moment. But the titles make the books hard to find on a general search engine — anyone who just types in the titles without my name has to wade through a lot of music entries before they get to me.
Titles are always a challenge for me. Finding them. Matching them to my story. I think about them now in ways I never did before I was a writer.
How about you? Seen any great titles lately? Any truly horrific ones?