A discussion evolved a month or two ago between myself and a friend. We both decided that the words in a fiction title will influence how keen we are to buy said volume. However, if we were shopping for non-fiction, the content and writer may carry a higher weighting than how the title is phrased.
I'm a book geek, I admit. I have kept a personal 'reading record', as I was taught in primary school, since January 1998. I have written the author's name, the title, and a score out of ten for every book I have read between then and now. It would be one of the first things I'd grab if my house caught fire! Looking through my notebook, I started wondering, which books have I read where it was purely the title which encouraged me to delve into the pages?
The Beach - Alex Garland
I'm a real beach bum (take a look at my travel blog for proof!), and the title sparked something in the part of my which contains all things desire and dreams. I stole a copy from my art teacher. Sorry, Miss. I did return it, though, after I'd read it!
The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
This was my first Iain Banks novel. My mum recommended I try him out, and this title intrigued me. What would a wasp factory be like? How would you keep the wasps inside??? Of course, it's not that kind of novel in reality, but the title worked for me.
Millennium - John Varley
I read this only because it was the end of the millennium and I felt the need to read on the subject. The title couldn't be more obvious and perfect.
How to be a Canadian - Will and Ian Ferguson
In 2006 I went to live in Canada for a year. This was a present from a fellow foreigner on Canadian soil; a humourous take at the odd and endearing behaviour of our temporarily adopted nation. There can't be a better reason to read a book named this way!
Egg Dancing - Liz Jensen
An amusing title, if nothing else! I gave this one 9/10 though, back in 2004, so it must have been more than just a well-named book.
I didn't read these books due to how well the novel was known or regarded. It wasn't the cover design. It wasn't the reputation of the writer, or the fact I'd never read anything by them before. It was the fact their novel had a fab title. I prefer short, snappy titles, but it's not essential.
Writers: Now consider the blog, short story, novel you're working on, or even the poem. What does the title say to you? Does it give you a clue as to what the piece is about? Do you think it would intrigue the reader enough to open the cover or click the link?
If you really get stuck (or bored!), take a look at Lulu's online title scorer. It's a quick test which analyses the words in your title and gives you a 'likelihood of success' score at the end. Statisticians have studied the bestselling novels of the last 50 years and come up with this equation.... It's just a bit of fun, really, but it's worth considering to help play around with your title configuration.
This post was inspired by a conversation I had with Northampton's newest hair blogger, Sarah Becker. Take a look at her new blog, Get The Look You Want.
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Born To Be A Tourist