I see a lot of new books come through this old timey library, and I’m starting to think that the actual writing may be the easy part of putting a book out, or at least the part that requires the least amount of thought. Nowadays, it seems like naming your book is the real challenge for today’s aspiring besteller author. As always, Stacked is looking out for up and coming writers. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide to naming your soon-to-be chart topping literary sensation.
Before you can come up with a name, it’s important to figure out exactly what kind of book it is you’ve written. Ask yourself this: Did you make it up? If so, it’s most likely a work of fiction. Let’s start there.
1. Does someone get murdered in the book? Congratulations! You’ve written yourself a mystery! The great thing about mysteries is that you can write a bunch of them using the same characters. In order to help your readers know whether they’re reading a book you’ve written, you should pick one vaguely sinister sounding word, then include that word in all of your book titles. Let’s say your word is “brutal.” Without even really thinking about it, you’ve got “Brutal Justice,” “Brutal Force,” “Brutal Brutality”… see how easy this is? Best of all, whenever anyone thinks about the word “brutal” they’ll think about reading one of your books.
2. Is your book about someone in the developing world? Perhaps someone coming of age, or experiencing the strains the rapidly encroaching modern world places on their traditional way of life? If so, you’re in luck, because this kind of book is extremely easy to name. Just look at something your character does or is, then describe it in an awkward way by using an unusual or outdated word order and/or little used vocabulary words or tenses. The idea is to make it sound like a foreign person said it. For instance, if I were naming a book like that based on what I’m doing right now, I’d call it “The Gazer of Screens” or “The Sitter Of Chairs.” Or possibly “The Typist of Snark.”
3. Have you written something “important” designed to be cooed over by the critical set? A work of “literature,” perhaps? You’re facing a challenge here. People have been writing literature for so long now, most of the good names are taken. Best to just string together a bunch of vaguely melancholy sounding words and hope for the best. I recommend something like “Mountain of Sorrow” or “Sighs of the Sparrow’s Progeny”
Did you only make up 50% of your book? If so, you’ve got a work of non-fiction on your hands. Good for you!
4. Titling works of non-fiction is laughably easy. Just remember one word: colon. In general, the more colons you have in your title, the better. Also, make sure one of the colon-separated sections in your title focusses on the words “how” or “why.” Try “Busted!: Why the Liberals Liberalize While Conservatives Conserve: A Mother’s Story” or “Land of Milk and Terror: How the James K. Polk Administration Ruined Our Values, and Why it Matters: A Roadmap for the 21st Century.” Did you see how I got bonus points for using how AND why in one of my clauses? Pretty clever, huh?
5. Have you written a self-help book? Sorry, friend. You’ve made a terrible mistake. It’s not that you won’t get rich, it’s just that you’ve done it backwards. You probably thought of a good thing people can do to make their lives better, then wrote your idea out in book form, and now you’re trying to think of a title for it. What you should actually do is to think of a clever (but not too clever) title, write a book based on your title, then hope people have already paid for the book before they realize it is absolutely useless. It’s also a good idea to use a title that is easy to turn into numerous sequels. My advice is to throw away the book you’ve written and see what you can do with “How Many Flowers Are In Your Basket?” (possible sequels: “Flowers In Your Basket At Work,” “Flowers In Your Basket In The Bedroom,” “Flowers In The Convicted Felon’s Basket” etc. etc.)
6. The final book type you run into these days is the wry memoir. These are easy and fun to name. Just come up with an outrageous or absurd sentence. You’ve nailed it if you can picture someone reading your title, then giving one of those bemused head shakes while saying “What the… ? That title is totally outrageous and absurd!” As with all works of non-fiction, a colon and a how/why bit never hurts. Try “Speaking French With Pigeons At The Cracker Factory: My Years As A Down-And-Out Rugby Referee And How I Learned To Love My Ankles”
There you go. Now all you need are a few hundred pages of words and you’re ready to climb the charts. In the next installment of our “Learn to Write” series I’ll be teaching you the proper facial expressions and dress for your dust jacket author photo.
-Norm De Plume