AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Guardian
May 19, 2014
3,100
6,558
London UK
redhammer.info
Our next live seminar will be on the topic of WRITING KILLER TITLES.

Authors tend to either overlook this vitally-important aspect of book writing, or they worry unnecessarily about it. Neither approach is rational :)

I’ve seen at first-hand just how powerful a killer title can be, particularly for the first-time author chasing their first significant book deal. It really can shift opinions quite dramatically.

I’d like to canvas your opinion, please, on great book titles – which ones stick in your mind? Which ones do you wish you’d written? And which ones twist like the knife of Alaric the Visigoth in your basal ganglia? Enquiring minds want to know!

I need to get a goodly number of suggestions, please, and it’s particularly important that we cover as many genres as possible. So do post as many titles below as you can... several a day if you wish.

Use this format:

TITLE:

AUTHOR:

GENRE:

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE:

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS:


Thanks!
 
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Robinne Weiss

Full Member
May 19, 2015
2,870
5,098
New Zealand
robinneweiss.com
Title: A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking
Author: T. Kingfisher
Genre: YA Fantasy
Link: My thoughts/reactions: I impulse-bought this book solely on the basis of its title. The title promised me a quirky, lighthearted fantasy, and the book didn't disappoint. As a writer of MG and YA fantasy, it's the sort of title that makes me think I wish I'd thought of that one.
 

Jan L

Full Member
Jun 28, 2020
36
99
San Francisco
TITLE: 1Q84

AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami

GENRE: fiction/fantasy/science fiction

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE: 1Q84 (1Q84 #1-3)

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: The moment I saw the puzzling title I had to read the book. Had to know more.
 
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CageSage

Full Member
Feb 11, 2019
1,463
2,191
Australia
cagedunn.com
TITLE: Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone
AUTHOR: JK Rowling
GENRE: MG Urban Fantasy
LINK: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone eBook : Rowling, J.K.: Amazon.com.au: Books
THOUGHTS/REACTIONS: I like that it appeals to younger males (I've chosen lots of books for young foster kids, and males are harder to influence without a good frontage) by using the name of the main character, and an intriguing concept (raises question of what is philosopher's stone?). It's unfortunate that the stone didn't play a part at the end of the series (it could have been one of the trine), but for this book, this story, it was an appropriate object for a young man's story journey, which the title reflected - you got what it said on the cover.
edit: no, I didn't like the change to Sorcerer's Stone because that was too on-the-nose.
 
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Jan L

Full Member
Jun 28, 2020
36
99
San Francisco
TITLE: (The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series) A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc.

AUTHOR: Sue Grafton

GENRE: Mystery/Detective

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE: Books by Sue Grafton: The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Series

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: These alphabet series books, not just Grafton's, make my teeth ache and trigger my interior "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" SCREAM. They're cheesy, but not cheesy enough to be entertaining. Also, there's just something about these alphabet titles that makes me feel like they're shoving it out like bad fast food. Q is for Quick write another. *wink* These books are very successful, so clearly many readers don't share my strong feelings.
 

Jan L

Full Member
Jun 28, 2020
36
99
San Francisco
TITLE: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

AUTHOR: Muriel Barbery

GENRE: Literary Fiction

LINK: somebody tell me how to do this and I will.

THOUGHTS/REACTIONS: Bought it because I was charmed by the oxymoron. Did not disappoint. Cried like a baby at the end.
You can copy the url for the book and then paste it directly into the reply box. When you post it, it will appear.
 
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RK Capps

Full Member
Feb 15, 2019
3,666
3,990
Australia
I'm afraid I can't help because my purchases have always been based on word of mouth, but we've had many of those on Pop Ups, and this one caught my eye above others.

TITLE: My Sister, the Serial Killer

AUTHOR: Oyinkan Braithwaite

GENRE: Dark humour/slueth

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE:
YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: There's an "I know she's a serial killer" subtext in the title, and you just have to wonder how anyone without homicidal tendencies copes, and what does knowing that do to their relationship? As an aside, it's set out very different from a normal novel, more episodic, but brilliant.
 
TITLE: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

AUTHOR: Milan Kundera

GENRE: Good question, puzzled me. I looked at Waterstones! They list it under Modern & Contemporary Fiction.

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE:The_Unbearable_Lightness_of_Being

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: When I read the post It took me about 10 secs to dredge this title up from my memory. Not a book I would choose based on the blurb, but the title was intriguing and suggestive of something deeper. It was not a page-turner for me, but there again I like to learn from books and I did. Worth reading. On the other hand, 'Cancer Ward' turned me off till I read the blurb.
 
There's no timeframe defined for the books here, and no statement as to whether non-fiction is out of scope. I'm sure everyone has heard of these NF titles and no further data is required: 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' ; 'I'm OK, You're OK'. They make you feel as if you have to read them - and of course they could work as fiction titles as well.

Now I'm thinking 'The Wreck of the Mary Deare' versus 'Shipwreck!' - which works best. I'd love to be at the seminar, but time no good for me here in NZ :-( zzzzzzzzzz...........
 

Tracey (T)

Full Member
Mar 2, 2020
133
141
North Yorkshire
TITLE: The Reader on the 6.27

AUTHOR: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, I guess

THOUGHTS/REACTIONS: Title intrigued me, the book cover looked whimsical and a lovely little blurb inside the front cover. Turned out to be one of my favourite books.
 

AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
Guardian
May 19, 2014
3,100
6,558
London UK
redhammer.info
There's no timeframe defined for the books here, and no statement as to whether non-fiction is out of scope.
Non-fiction... yes, please!

Timeframe... I haven’t quite finalised the next live seminar date, James. I was aiming for Saturday 2nd October, but I think it’s now more likely to be the 9th. Partly because I’ve got a week away next week (will still be checking in here) but also because the post-production on the first seminar took so damn long, nearly 2 weeks (I have to fit it in with my agenting work!).

I learnt from doing a bunch of podcasts years ago that post-production is a thief of time (we do none at all on Pop-Ups, which makes it a bit edgy to watch… what’s going to go wrong this week!?) but for a product such as a seminar, you’ve really got to make it as good as it can be. I think I’ve learnt how to improve the workflow for subsequent seminars, but even so, one seminar a month will be the max.

So please keep on adding more titles here, everything so far has been brilliant and will help me to tease out the basic principles / ground-rules, which is the aim of the next seminar.

The BLURB seminar is available for purchase now, and after I get back from my short hol there will be a new area inside the Colony where Full Members will be able to access all seminars for free.
 
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Galadriel

Full Member
Title: The Animals at Lockwood Manor
Author: Jane Healey
Genre: 'part love story, part mystery' (as it says inside front cover)
Link: Thoughts/reactions: I picked this up at Waterstones. Loved the cover, loved the title, both of which said to me, delicious gothic mystery. The blurb is on the inside of the front cover. The back had emotive words such as: tension and darkness; claustrophobic Manor; shadow; eerie; haunting, etc. Of the 337 pages, I reached 310 and got fed up. I felt cheated. The animals are a side line in my opinion. There is no deep mystery to them as hinted in the blurb. The stuffed animals are moved, lost, hidden and this is repeated throughout. But, it's never about the animals. Not really. And some of Healey's sentence go on and on - see prologue - one of them is a whole paragraph long.
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
Sep 25, 2014
5,062
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UK
www.truetarottales.com
An Oldie/Classic

TITLE Promise At Dawn
AUTHOR Romain Gary
GENRE Autobiography with poetic elements

THOUGHTS? REACTIONS The book was long famous before I first read it, but the title makes me feel something. Makes me want to cry, not altogether in a bad way. The promise at dawn was his mother's love for him, so intense, he would never again know anything like it, and be left forever thirsty by the well. She died and left him, and tricked him in the manner of her leaving. He starts off by saying he is sitting by the Big Sur...where he later ended his own life.

It's what the title makes me feel that is it's conjuring power, that he fully intended the reader should feel.

It haunts and - it also sums up the whole book, the story at the core, in just those three words.

The title is beautiful- evanescent, maybe like our own memories - alive still, and just round the corner.

LINK Promise At Dawn
 
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Galadriel

Full Member
Title: Hidden Nature: A Voyage of Discovery
Author: Alys Fowler
Genre: Memoir/ Nature writing
Link:
Thoughts/Reactions:
I find the title, Hidden Nature captivating. It implies something teased out; things we might miss unless we really get down and look. The title meanders at a vertical angle as if looking up through trees, and yet this is a tale of her adventures kayaking along the B'ham canals. Having grown up in Birmingham, but essentially 'rejecting,' it for thirty-odds after moving to the West Country, it called me to re-look at what I missed; some of those canals were part of my childhood. So that title, draws an audience in on different levels: nature lovers/ kayakers/ Brummies . . . and it also hints at another 'channel,' with 'Voyage of Discovery,' because, not only does she learn about the canals, their fauna, flora, history; her getting to grips with kayaking; it is also very moving (moving/ along water/ along emotions - as I see it) in that her relationship with her ill husband is ending and she emerges as 'late comer-out' lesbian. Beautiful - title delivered, and some.
 
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Galadriel

Full Member
Title: spill simmer falter wither
Author: Sarah Baume
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Link:
Thoughts/ Reactions:
title is all lower case and the words are stacked. Even without the cover art, I would pick this up. It's poetic, it's evocative. The words are a journey; a cycle that effervesces, settles into a rhythm before things fall apart and it's the end of things. I wish I'd written this! It is beautiful and heart-rending, and wow! what a title! A first book too. Astounding.
 
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JohnBertel

Full Member
May 18, 2021
15
26
Denmark
TITLE: Moonraker

AUTHOR: Ian Flemming

GENRE: Action/adventure

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE:

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: Other examples: Blade Runner, Goldeneye, Goldfinger. Such titles, combining words in ways that sometimes make little or no sense can sound very cool and stick in the mind. Of course, the titles may say little about the content or genre.
 

RG Worsey

Full Member
Jul 7, 2021
204
407
Awards
1
Rossendale, Lancs
animusgraphicnovel.co.uk
TITLE: The Brilliant & Forever
AUTHOR: Kevin MacNeil
GENRE: Not sure. Zen Buddhist satirical comedy?
LINK: https://www.betterworldbooks.com/product/detail/9781846973376?
REACTIONS: I picked this up at Ullapool Book Festival in 2016. Loved the title and the cover, though knew nothing else about it, or the writer. I bought it after reading the opening line (quoted below), and was not disappointed, it's now one of my favourite novels. It's about three friends who live on a small island in the Outer Hebrides, who enter an intense writing competition.

On our island, everyone - human and alpaca alike - wants to be a writer. The standard greeting is not, 'How are you?' but 'What are you working on?'
 
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DavidXLewis

Basic
Apr 10, 2021
2
10
Ferney-Voltaire, France
Our next live seminar will be on the topic of WRITING KILLER TITLES.

Authors tend to either overlook this vitally-important aspect of book writing, or they worry unnecessarily about it. Neither approach is rational :)

I’ve seen at first-hand just how powerful a killer title can be, particularly for the first-time author chasing their first significant book deal. It really can shift opinions quite dramatically.

I’d like to canvas your opinion, please, on great book titles – which ones stick in your mind? Which ones do you wish you’d written? And which ones twist like the knife of Alaric the Visigoth in your basal ganglia? Enquiring minds want to know!

I need to get a goodly number of suggestions, please, and it’s particularly important that we cover as many genres as possible. So do post as many titles below as you can... several a day if you wish.

Use this format:

TITLE:
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
AUTHOR:
Paul Torday
GENRE: Who knows? "In many ways Paul Torday invented his own genre," said Kirsty Dunseath, publishing director at Weidenfeld and Nicolson Fiction. "His extraordinary fiction was filled with warmth and a wry, humane wit."

LINK IF YOU HAVE ONE:

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS:
Memorable because of its strangeness ... Same eye-catching peculiarity as A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Marina Lewycka)


Thanks!
 
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Hannah F

Full Member
Jan 18, 2020
1,958
4,526
Awards
1
Roslin, Edinburgh, Scotland
Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA Fantasy

Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Thousand-Doors-January

Thoughts/Reactions: This book is on my tbr list because the title intrigues me. January is the protagonist. I am wondering: why is her name January? What is behind those doors? How can we find out about ten thousand doors in a mere 300 or so pages of a standalone?
I will have to read this book.
 

RK Capps

Full Member
Feb 15, 2019
3,666
3,990
Australia
Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Author: Alix E. Harrow

Genre: YA Fantasy

Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Thousand-Doors-January

Thoughts/Reactions: This book is on my tbr list because the title intrigues me. January is the protagonist. I am wondering: why is her name January? What is behind those doors? How can we find out about ten thousand doors in a mere 300 or so pages of a standalone?
I will have to read this book.

That one has always intrigued me too ... and I love the cover :)
 

Josephine

Basic
Aug 22, 2021
9
15
Calder Valley
TITLE: In The Cage Where Your Saviours Hide

AUTHOR: Malcolm Mackay

GENRE: Crime/Alternate history

YOUR THOUGHTS / REACTIONS: Mackay has some brilliant titles, most of them long (How a Gunman Says Goodbye; The Night the Rich Men Burned; For Those Who Know the Ending). This actually wasn't my favourite of his novels but the title really pleases me (tbh I didn't feel that the book quite lived up to it, although it was enjoyable enough).
I think the length makes them memorable, and the words are well chosen, almost poetic, perhaps; there's certainly a kind of rhythm to them that I really noticed when listing them above.