Eating People is Wrong

We’ve been reading a number of How-To books lately on what it takes to get a non-fiction book published, and come across an interesting factoid: a potential customer perusing a table of books on average looks at the cover of a book for 1.4 seconds. Self-evident is that the title of the book matters. A lot. So does having a picture of a hot hunk or hunkette on the cover wearing skimpy clothing. Although that cover art may not work for all books, such as Brain Surgery in 10 Easy Lessons.

With that in mind, we’ve been trying on titles for our new non-fiction book. The site is a great resource for what not to do. Designated worst book titles include:

  1. Eating People is Wrong (Not sure why this is the case, as people are local, sustainable, non-GMO and gluten-free.)
  2. Reusing Old Graves (You know, for authentic Halloween decorations, nothing beats a real skeleton!)
  3. How to Avoid Huge Ships (It’s so, like, obvious: just don’t hang around with mean people who are total shi…I mean. Oops, never mind.)
  4. Why Cats Paint (Because dogs sculpt?)
  5. Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (…or Daddy is.)
  6. The Practical Pyromaniac: Build Fire Tornadoes, One-Candlepower Engines, Great Balls of Fire, and More Incendiary Devices (Whoa! Where can we buy that?)
  7. Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them (With the photo of a fifty-something farmer in overalls on the cover, they might have consider Geezers and Gardening Gears: alliteration always makes for a catchy title.)
  8. Wearing Thongs Well: Your Key to a Successful Job Interview (Especially if you are planning a career as a stripp…ah, er…’clothing-optional entertainer.’)

Ok, we made the last one up. But it got your attention, right?

One of us still looking for Finding, Landing and Dispatching The Rich Old Coot of Your Dreams (strictly for literary purposes, of course). Okay, we made that one up too, though clearly, Grade ‘A’ Gold-Digging would work better as a title.

To come up with something eye-catching and unforgettable we spend hours and hours brainstorming. No, we didn’t. We turned to the Internet and found a random title generator for suggestions ( We were given Slave of Mist, The Emerald Years, The Female of the Shards, and Prized Snow, all of which sounded great for Romance Novels, which means we definitely could use scantily-clad hunk or hunkette covers.

Not satisfied with those, we tried an Internet site that promised to generate unique names: We popped in several words about the book and out popped a new words we could use for the title: Gamgamemen, Womlelete, Socfucer, and Enbeer, none of which is particularly catchy and at least one of which sounds like a perversion involving pink bunny slippers.

We thought it would be a good idea to canvass friends and colleagues for title ideas, but ran into a bit of a snag. Under the assumption that the title should reflect the subject matter, we would have to explain the thrust of the book. In order to properly summarize one’s book, it’s necessary to develop a selling handle or elevator pitch that in one sentence will convince readers to buy, bookstores to stock, and libraries to purchase.

Fortunately, the How-To books are rife with examples of pitch lines:

  • Die Hard: A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists.
  • Pretty Woman: A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.
  • Into Thin Air: Alive without the cannibalism.
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary: Pride and Prejudice in modern London.

Easy-peasie, right? Sort of. We couldn’t agree on the elevator pitch, so we’re giving you two:

  • War and Peace meets Pollyanna; or
  • How we stopped worrying about what to do with our lives and learned to feel downright cheery about large scale armed conflict

Let us know you title suggestions. We’ll consider anything.

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