We’ve talked before about book covers, and how important they are in a reader’s decision to buy. There’s no question that a book is frequently judged by its cover. Publishers work hard to make sure that readers can do that very thing.
But in today’s climate of shrinking retail space, the very first impression people will have of most books is the spine. That’s right, we writers who slave to craft an exquisite 90,000 word tome, have (at most) about 5 words to actually capture a potential reader’s attention.
We’re not talking the first line of the story, we’re not talking about the back cover copy. The first chance we have to motivate a buyer to pick up our novel is the title.
Titles are hard, and writers are often consoled by the reassurance that it doesn’t matter what we call a manuscript, because the publisher’s marketing team will probably change it. It’s true, the marketing team often wants changes, but from what I’ve seen, they typically toss that particular albatross back into the author’s boat, by asking sweetly for other options, perhaps with certain key words that have been identified.
Being one who is not particularly good with titles I find the whole process interesting, if a little intimidating. I was trying to analyze a bit about what makes me as a reader pick up a book. There are a few authors on my auto-buy list. I may not even notice the title, when I see that name on the spine, it’s going home with me regardless.
The vast majority of my book buying decisions are more difficult. I did a survey of the books on my shelf. (A very scientific survey consisting of typing up some of the titles I can see on my shelf without having to get up from my chair.)
The Camelot Caper
Cat Among the Pigeons
A Monstrous Regiment of Women
The Mummy Case
The Silver Pigs
Valley of Betrayal
The Swiss Courier
Death at Sandringham House
Sisterhood of Spies
Arms of Deliverance
I was trying to figure out if there were any common denominators. Using analysis nearly as scientific as the selection process, I have decided that all of these titles hint at intrigue within. Intrigue is clearly something I’m attracted too.
What are you attracted too? What titles are on your shelves? Why did you pick those books?
Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in May, 2012.