• Archives

I Ain’t No Monkey But I Know What I Like

Please be gentle!


When I go around hawking my book, I give a series of workshops and one is on titles. I don’t know if it will be possible to recreate some of that experience here or if anyone will be game, but if you would like to test out your title, leave it as a comment. What we do in the workshop is use everyone as market research. Writers float their titles and we get a show of hands who likes it, who doesn’t, why? And then a deeper conversation ensues about the importance of titles and why we like some, not others, how useful they are for marketing,  what they need to accomplish given the genre, how well they capture the essence of the book, how they can attract and galvanize, or get lost in the crowd.

What makes you pick up a book in the store? You have a title, jacket art, an author’s name, some descriptive copy. What grabs you? Some combination no doubt. But when you are pitching to agents (and agents in turn to publishers), it is even more critical to get the title right. I pitched a book today and the title and sub-title said it all. And when I pitched it, the editors said things like: that’s a brilliant title, that title gave me chills, I feel like I’m going to cry, etc. This is called a bulls-eye. It doesn’t guarantee a sale, but you’ve got the door open and editors will look at it more quickly.

I’ve heard too many writers say that the title is a place holder because they know it will change. Or they say they’re not good at thinking up titles. Or the title is good enough. I beg you to find a great title. A truly great title. You cannot underestimate how much it helps your cause.

So, if  you are working on your title and want some feedback (and please post anonymously if you like), show us what you got. And we’ll tell you if we like it and why, or send you back to the drawing board. Or just tell us  what some of your favorite titles are and why. I will send a FREE AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Forest for the Trees (Revised and Updated for the 21st Century) to the best loved title submitted. No joke.