Saturday, 9 August 2008


So last night I went to a friend's house for dinner. I got talking to her about novel #3 and she asked what the title was. When I told her she pulled a face.

"What?" I said. "Don't you like it? Don't you think it would make someone curious enough to pick it up if it was on a 3 for 2 table?"

"Maybe," she said. "It's just that I'd feel a bit of a loser reading it on the train."

"Really?!" I said. "Why?"

"Because people always check what other people are reading and they'd probably think I was like the title, even though I'm not."

Now I don't really want to give away the working title of my book but let's say...ehr...that the title of the book was "The Fat Girl Society" for example. Would you not buy it because you wouldn't want people to think you were a 'fat girl'. Or, how about a book called "Big, Fat, Loser" or "Little Miss Dumb" or "The Love Loser" or "Single and Desperate". Would you worry that people would think you were fat, dumb, a loser, desperate etc? You get the idea.

Would other people's opinion on what you're reading bother you or is it just my friend that feels self conscious about people judging her on the title of the book she's reading? Should I let her opinion influence my book title or keep it anyway? (I think it's catchy and very women's fiction).


Quillers said...

Put it this way, Cally. I quite happily read The Badmother's Handbook in front of people with no fear that they'd think I was a bad mother!

I can't imagine that your friend's view is a universal one.

Paige said...

To be honest, I've never thought about this before.

I know that I ALWAYS try to see the title of books that people are reading on the bus to work but I don't necessarily think the title is associated with them. If it was a non-fiction self help book then obviously I would, but a fiction book, nah. I think the genre of the book says a heck of a lot more than the title of the book.

I say keep the title.

Calistro said...

Quillers - Very good point about TBMH! And I think you're right about the view not being universal. It's not something that had ever crossed my mind before. To be honest I don't think she's a massive fan of women's fiction and would rather be seen reading something literary so maybe that's it.

Paige - No, me neither. You're right about people juding on genre but not title. And sod it, I'm going to keep my title :o)

Pat Posner said...

I buy and read a lot of children's books. If I know I want a particular book, I'll order on line. But if I just want to go and see a good selection of books before I choose, it means a long bus journey. So on the return journey I sit there reading a children's book.

A young girl once asked if I was just learning to read when she saw me with a picture book - her poor mum looked rather embarrassed, but we ended up chatting about all sorts of books.

I agree with Quillers and Paige.

goodbyetoallfat said...

I would definitely buy it -- I buy any books with titles that I identify with + generally I don't read on trains anyway, I read at home.

But thanks to this post of yours I also now want to buy the book that you used in the photo thing, the Loser's Guide to Life & Love -- I am immediately convinced I need that book as well !!!

KAREN said...

It wouldn't bother me at all, to be honest. I like to look at books people are reading though, and if I see someone with 'women's fiction' I always think 'Yay!' If it's literary fiction I wonder, is it just for show?!

SpiralSkies said...

I think Paige is right... it comes down to pure intellectual snobbery.

"Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."

P. J. O'Rourke

KayJay said...

Really good question. I have to admit I have been put off a couple of times by a title and conversely I have also bought books on the strength of the title alone! I wouldn't feel at all worried about reading The Bad Mother's Handbook as it is obvious it's a joke, but I would probably wimp out of reading something in public that was called Getting Rid of Halitosis or I am Fat and Proud. I don't think it's intellectual snobbery exactly!

It could be argued that any kind of title that makes you stand out to an agent or publisher is going to be a good thing.

Ultimately, from what I understand titles are pretty much determined by the publisher (often the marketing department?) so I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about it!

Glad to have you back.

HelenMH said...

In a way - and I know this isn't very helpful - I think it depends how popular the book is. If it's a book that everyone's reading then no one will worry about the title. If your judgement tells you it's the right title then it probably is.

Debs said...

I only look at what others are reading because I'm nosy and always on the lookout for more books to buy.

I wouldn't be put off at all, I think that as long as it looks like the sort of book that would appeal to me then I'd buy it.

I think you have enough experience to know what sounds good and what doesn't.

Tam said...

It wouldn't put me off. I read Anne Fine's The Killer Cat Strikes Again on the tube the other day and it earned me a few funny looks but this is a woman who goes to M&S with bendy pink curlers in her hair when she needs to...