Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Behind the Books: Tantalizing Titles

For the last few weeks, I’ve gotten so carried away with the individual items on my list that I never finished it. This week I promise to do that. It should be easy because there’s only one more step to add:

1. Get an idea.

2. Do a little market research to see what’s already out there on the topic.
3. If the idea seems viable, do a ton of research.
4. Focus your topic.
5. Consider your audience.
6. Come up with a working title.

I say ”working” because it often changes during the publication process, as editors and marketing people try to figure out how to make the book’s “package” most appealing to readers.

Now you might ask: “Well if the title is probably going to change, why spend time thinking about it?” Good question. Some authors might not, but for me, it’s important because it helps me focus my topic. For more on that, look back to this post.

Sometimes a title is the very first thing that pops into my mind—before I even have a full-fledged idea. But other times, coming up with a title is a real pain in the neck. And, I admit it, sometimes it’s so hard that I just give up and start writing. But even in those cases, all that thinking wasn’t wasted. It has helped me to pinpoint what I want the reader to take away from the book and why.

Good titles let readers know what a book will be about, but great titles also tempt, tease, or titillate. They roll off the tongue, pique curiosity, or are just plain fun.

What third grader wouldn’t want to read The Truth about Poop by Susan E. Goodman or Bugs for Lunch by Margery Facklam?

Older readers are sure to pull books with titles like Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleishman or Bodies from the Bog by James Deem off of library shelves. Titles with words like “secret,” “gruesome,” “poop,” and “mystery” certainly help sell books, but alliteration, rhyming, or unexpected word combinations can also have a big impact.

Here are two of my own titles that I especially like:

What are some of your favorites?

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