This post is prompted by what happened to a friend recently. She wrote a highly entertaining and thought-provoking book only to have it published under a dull and thoughtless title, the publisher’s thoughtless decision. It will not have helped sales.
Anyone who caught Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, on BBC2 on Monday, was lucky, it was brilliant, and would have seen him pour scorn on celebrity authors, and their titles, in his take on “Books”.
Discussing Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook, Lee’s feeling is that you can either read it and dismiss it as rubbish, or dismiss it as rubbish first, to save yourself the trouble.
He is even more derisive about DJ Moyles. ‘The sequel to The Gospel According to Chris Moyles is The Difficult Second Book, a title “with a degree of irony and self-awareness largely absent from the text”. Moyles, he told us, writes that he would like it to be seen as a great toilet book. “Ah, the vaulting ambition of the writer”.
Compare these junk food titles with with one of utter brilliance. Gil Holcombe, a divorced mother of three, living on a tiny income, who had not written before, has had her first book published:
How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even If You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans (One with an Ill-Fitting Lid) and no Fancy Gadgets – Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher.
The book has become a publishing phenomenon, selling 30,000 copies since October!
The majority of business pitches, and the documents, make do with the unsurprising: ‘ The Such and Such Project. A presentation by the So and So Company.’ Not inspiring and not differentiating. A creative title will stand out and be remembered.