A year or so ago I scrolled through bestselling books on Amazon, and wrote a piece which I never posted commenting on some of their titles. I’d seen another blogger do something similar and I liked the idea. I never posted it at the time, but I’ve spruced it up and I present it now. I haven’t checked the bestsellers list again, so no doubt it is hopelessly outdated. If the bestsellers then are still bestsellers now, let’s just say that they’ve done well for themselves. (Disclaimer: I am judging these books on titles, not on content. In fact, I have no idea what most of them are about.)
Unless this is a picture book for two-year-olds (in which case, you have my blessing), it just doesn’t cut it.
Elizabeth is Missing
This title manages to give away a lot and yet remain flat and stale. When Elizabeth Went Missing would be better—it would spark the question “What happened when she went missing?” and prompt readers to discover the answer.
Em, yes? We have one of those every day. This is probably intended to be an evocative rather than a curiosity-inspiring title, and I’ll admit it’s pretty enough, but it lacks concreteness. How about Sunrise over Niagara, or something with a hint of sadness like The Last Sunrise? Can you feel the difference?
This title does make the potential reader ask questions (“Who finds what?” “Who keeps what?”) but to have a cliché as the tile of your book? I’m not convinced.
The Children Act
This is eye-catching because it sounds like a work of non-fiction. Then you realise that it’s a novel and you know that weighty things are at stake, even though you don’t know exactly what.
I Let You Go
You did? Why? Tell me more, and while you’re at it, please pass the tissues.
A Man of Some Repute
This is not only an intriguing title (why only some repute?) with an elegant, old-fashioned feel, but there’s a lovely iambic rhythm to it.
All the Light We Cannot See
Beautifully evocative and rhythmical, this makes me wonder what this light is and why we can’t see it….
In conclusion, dear authors and publishers, when it comes to the titles of your books, a rose by any other name may indeed smell as sweet, but if you’ve christened it a birthwort rather than a rose, I may never venture near enough to smell it.