Judge a book by its title

Having somewhere around four titled works, I often feel like a total newbie. Hell, I feel like a total newbie most of the time with the whole publishing thing. I was once told I could sell anything, and that would help me in life, yet for the life of me  I can’t figure out why trying to “sell” my own novel is like getting splinters shoved under my fingernails.

Now that you have that image, let me get back to what I was talking about. We toil in the dark, writing our novels and minor opuses. We think we’re doing amazing things, powerful things, and maybe we are. But we’re just particles in a very large hourglass, sifting through one by one. Some fall on top, some are buried. Just how it goes.

Titles are important, though. They give particles a chance at making an impression. Sure, don’t judge a book by its cover; I say, judge a book by its title! I often joke about fantasy novels and the superfluous use of words like dragon, king, sword, and kingdom. So when I told my husband about Queen of None he laughed and said, “Weren’t you just railing against that?” I like a taste of my own irony every now and again. I never had to spend a lot of time with other books, because I usually just titled it after the main character (Peter of Windbourne) or concept (The Aldersgate, The Ward of the Rose). This time, Anna Pendragon just sounded wrong, so I went another route.

Sometimes a book title has to do with the subject matter, or a quote from a poem, or nothing at all. Sometimes the phrase is in the book itself. While I titled Queen of None earlier, while finishing up Chapter 14 this morning, I found it fit quite well within the text. Here it is:

I am a hollow drum, my skin drawn tight and hard against my bones, my breath like hot ash. I am emptied of life, of strength; a nothing of nothings, a queen of none.

I certainly hadn’t anticipated that, and I’m sure at some point someone will hate the title. I might be asked to change it, it may never see the light of day, etc. But for a moment there, I was really jazzing on a vibe.

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2 Comments on “Judge a book by its title

  1. I am one of those readers who will pick up a book based only on the title. That’s pretty much the only way you can get me to buy a book without any sort of reference. “Heroics for Beginners” is one I picked up just because of the name. “Dealing with Dragons” another. I don’t mind if there is a key word in there, that just tells me its the sort of book I like. You have to have that keyword and a twist.

    Now if you put that quote on the back of the cover…that would sell me. I can tell its the sort of book I’d read, not from the title but from your writing style.

    • @uninvoked Oh, definitely. I think words clue us in to what we love. I just joked that there are so many “Kingdom of the…” and “King.. Sword” stuff. It’s kind of humorous. Doesn’t mean it isn’t good! I love a good many of them. And I’m glad you like the quote! I was excited that it happened like that. I’m at a part in the book where the whole narrative is going topsy-turvy, and that came out of it. Glad you’d pick it up, too! 🙂

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