Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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How much do titles matter to you?

Lotta good links from Twitter today, including this link to a post by Susan Morris on titles.

For me, covers matter a lot — I have bought a book strictly for its cover before, I have bought specific editions of a title because I like the cover. I have never refused to buy a book because I didn’t like the cover, but sometimes it’s a near thing.

Titles? Titles, not so much, really. Except! I have to say, I do love a beautiful evocative title like THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. For me that’s a title that’s hard to beat. Or A FISTFUL OF SKY, to take another ‘sky’ title that I really love.

For me, any title that is just the main character’s name is dreadfully boring, which doesn’t mean I don’t have working titles that are exactly that. And any title which is more poetic is likely to appeal to me more than a title that is just a noun, even an interesting noun. For example, I prefer CATCHING FIRE to THE HUNGER GAMES (only with regard to the titles, though). Or closer to home, for me, THE FLOATING ISLANDS is merely an acceptable title, whereas the cover is the real draw. I truly admire a great title because experience has made it clear to me that great titles are not at all easy to come up with.

How about you? How important is the title to you, and do you tend to pick up / avoid books because of their titles?

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6 Comments How much do titles matter to you?

  1. David H.

    Titles can definitely be important, if not the most important, if only in terms of pushing people away.

    I know I stayed away from Terry Brooks’s “Magic Kingdom for Sale–Sold!” for far longer than I should have because I thought the title was so childish-sounding.

    On the flip side, a title like Mike Resnick’s “The Best Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy” really made me want to read the series it’s a part of (even if the book in question didn’t quite live up to how I wanted it to be).

    I definitely do like the poetic sounding titles, but not if it ends up sounding too pretentious for its source material! :)

  2. Macsbrains

    Well, I tried your Griffin mage books because of the titles and was rewarded accordingly. I fully agree with you about poetic titles, and I love longer titles in general. (I suppose Dune is an exception to this, but it manages to be very evocative in one word.)

    I also have never chosen not to read a book because of the cover or title, but I always stop and look when they are appealing. I know that the author doesn’t always have much input in those areas, but I admit I still feel if the title pings my buttons then the innards will follow suit.

    Some of my favorite books have terrible covers and I think this is a crime. Sometimes I fantasize about the cover I would have given them instead. (TMI, sorry.)

  3. Elaine T

    i can recall being pushed away by titles, also, although (of course) can’t remember the books because I never read them. We were at the library yesterday and I’m trying to remember how books caught my eye: lots just get passed over like the innumerable ST & SW series installments.
    Libriomancer, I looked at because it sounded interesting: book + magic user? And something about Alchemists that I flipped through and put back.

    Lots of offputting titles that sounded like zombie/vampire dreariness.

    The alchemist title caught me because it sounded different from the usual genre stuff.

    I also found the Jay Lake there recently, the one discussed here some time back, with the woman carrying two babies on the cover? Didn’t quite bounce off it, but skipped more of it than I read. Too bad, it had every element to make it interesting, but it just didn’t work for me.

    I did bring home Kenneally’s latest, DAUGHTERS OF MARS, which sounded interesting, about nurses in WWI. He’s one I usually hear about and think ‘that’s interesting’ and never get around to reading. This one sounded more worth the effort than some. (yes, I HAVE read SCHINDLER’S LIST/ARK.)

  4. Rachel

    SCHINDLER’S LIST is a book? Who knew? How does that work out in the movie/book dichotomy? Because naturally the book is generally better, but this one was quite a movie.

  5. Rachel

    The ebook format is a real favor to some books, isn’t it? Because sometimes, yes, the cover just needs to be hidden. I agree that sometimes the marketing department should just be embarrassed at the horrible cover they put on a book. It does seem to me that we see fewer really awful covers than we used to — but maybe it’s just that I browse in bookstores so much less than I used to, now that I live 80 miles from the nearest bookstore.

    And, glad you enjoyed the Griffin Mage trilogy! Thanks for letting me know!

  6. Elaine T

    SCHINDLER, the movie, I never saw. I don’t get on with Spielberg movies. But the book was excellent. I read it in my WWII & Holocaust period, when I was also reading things like JUDGEMENT IN NUREMBERG & JUDGEMENT IN JERUSALEM (Eichmann trial by the prosecutor).

    Apparently in Australia the title is SCHINDLER’S ARK, btw, which ties in a bit to the title discussion – does the change from Ark to List make a difference? I think Ark might have gotten my attention a bit better.

    And I’d forgotten, but yes, the tile of the first Griffin Mage book is what got my attention.

    Speaking of titles, the other one from the library that both got my attention and came home was MY BELOVED BRONTOSAURUS by Switek. There, the title promised paleontology and whimsy, so I picked it up.

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