The title of your next book...

Self-Publishers: Who Grants You Permission and Who Tells You No?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
In a couple of previous posts I mentioned how I'd experimented with the titles and cover designs of my ebooks on Smashwords and Amazon. It was a rough form of market research, while I gave all of my books away as a marketing tactic to help launch my novel.

I changed some short story and novella covers several times, making note of the download figures each time. I found that predominantly red, yellow and orange covers were more popular that greens, blues and darker colours. It helped to have a readily discernible image that stood out when the book cover was shrunk to tile size - such as a baby, a bright dragonfly or a burning candle. The biggest boost to the number of readers came when I made a couple of titles into questions.

Making like a linguist, I've been looking at the titles of the threads on the Colony, to see which have the most views. Again it's noticeable that threads with a ? or a ! do well. Emurelda's 'Full Manuscript Requested!', Lex's 'Is there any legitimacy in the publishing industry anymore?', jaguest21's 'The hardest thing about writing?', Carol Rose's 'Facebook, anyone?' and Marc Joan's 'New Word!' all attracted a lot of interest.

I also found with my ebook experiment, that gloomy titles did better than upbeat titles (this really surprised me), and it's broadly similar on The Colony forum. Thus, Jason Byrne's 'We need a rejection bell', my own 'The Perils of Pen Names', Marc Joan's 'It's not whether, but how one is rejected' and AgentPete's 'Hour of Writes: A Grumpy Agent Responds' were all looked at a lot.

This is not to say that we don't respond to happy news, but my rough research shows that titles in the form of a question or exclamation, and those with a hint of sadness lure us in to find out more. Great news always attracts attention, such as when one of us makes a Submission Gong announcement - but that's of interest to we Colonists, and would be hard to transfer into a book title.

Sex sells, of course - thus Katie-Ellen Hazeldine's 'Literature is About Sex' and my own vaguely suggestive 'Does Size Matter?' were ogled a fair few times.

What does this suggest for the title of our next books? Well, if I were contemplating calling my new psychological thriller 'The Body On The Beach', I might attract more readers with 'The Sad & Lonely Death Of A Beachcomber' or by turning it into a simple question that still intrigues would-be buyers, such as 'How Did He Die?' A sexual element could be injected with 'Death Of A Naturist.'

Designing a book cover for the latter could be a nightmare!
"Death of a Naturist" - I'd read that!

I jokingly referred to myself as The Nude Novelist in one thread, for this is how I write in summer in my stifling roof-space flat. Perhaps I could change my proposed novel to 'Death of a Nude Novelist', killing myself off in the process. After all, most artists sell more of the work they created once they're dead!
Hmm, I can see I'm going to have no problem crowdfunding this naked writing project. The thing is, where did the murderer conceal his deadly weapon?
Hmm, tricky, but would ultimately depend on what the weapon is. Garrott wire could be concealed in hair, I suppose. Or just give the guy a backpack.
A sexual element could be injected with 'Death Of A Naturist.'

Designing a book cover for the latter could be a nightmare!

Having accidentally stumbled into a naturist colony [right word?] on holiday, I can tell you that there is nothing remotely sexy about the activity. Definitely rather have a nice cup of tea. Or welding goggles.

But regarding your original point, I suspect that for this site, viewing numbers are partly correlated with the subject matter - some topics obviously are more interesting to a greater number of people than others - and partly correlated with random thread hijackings which boost views by going off on some spurious but amusing tangent which draws in additional contributions in a positive feedback effect. So I'm not sure if the thread title has a huge effect, other than to get the ball rolling. Which is not to say titles of novels are not disproportionately important - they may be, I don't know - it would be difficult to prove.
I just remembered a story about a knight of old who hoped to win a lady-love most difficult to gratify, by enlisting the help of a giant .....

He'd win her THIS time and so, with it firmly gripped, he charged full tilt

And he....

And was certain he must have succeeded at last. But then, and to his utter despair she said.....

No. I can't say. It's too dreadful.:oops:
I'll share my new novel title in the Houses, happy for Colonists to see it, but not anyone else. I've also got a lot of material I'm thinking of developing into a non-fiction book, and I haven't settled out a title for that.
Are we sharing book titles? THE PRICE OF SECRECY - The Weathermen 3 - releases 8/13. Under contract with Evernight is ONE NAUGHTY FANTASY, which releases sometime this month, and EXCLUSIVE ACCESS - The Weathermen 4 - which releases next month. My current WIP (which I should be working on right now! LOL!) is titled A SLOW-BURNING DANCE - The Weathermen 5. Next up to write as soon as I submit that one is another short one (featuring the same characters as in SNOWBOUND and ONE NAUGHTY FANTASY) called SEX ON THE BEACH. :) I haven't yet titled the remaining 7 books in The Weathermen series.
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Self-Publishers: Who Grants You Permission and Who Tells You No?

One Page Synopsis