Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Titles

By Pamela James

When selecting a book to read or a working title for writing a book (we all know how editors will normally change the title) how important is the title to you?
The title of a book is very important to me and I do admit that I like catchy titles. Currently I am writing two mysteries one mystery is a bookstore mystery the working title is OPEN FOR MURDER I am also writing a cross stitch mystery and still deciding on a working title (hence) this blog.
Have you ever bought a book just because you like the title of the book? I know I have especially when it comes to cozy/traditional mysteries.
I mean I bought an Agatha Christie Mystery once because I loved the title BY THE PRICKERING OF MY THUMB and I still want to buy Krista Davis's book THE DIVIA PAINTS THE TOWN I love titles I admit to being addicted to finding just the right title before I can actually type too many words to a manuscript.
Now the flip side is often to start writing the book and the title will come out of the plot, setting or characters. This sorta happened in my last book THE CROSSED STITCHER every time this person was crossed she murdered someon. It worked for that book but I find I write a better book when I pick a title first because it sets the atomosphere of the book.
I knew I had to read LORNA BARRETTS book MURDER IS BINDING by just the title. The same thing happened when I discovered Carolyn Hart's bookstore mystery DEATH ON DEMAND, I love culinary titles because I think they have some of the most creative thoughts behind their titles. This could also be why I'm a sucker for culinary mysteries set around the holidays. I mean G/A. Mckevett's mystery COOKED GOOSE is one of my all time favorite book titles.
As for non-traditional and culinary mysteries then I have to hand it to Lisa Scottoline. Her THINK TWICE and LOOK AGAIN actually made me stop and buy both books.
mary Daheim writes a wonderful bed-n-breakfast series and I mean her can't love a title like DEAD MAN DOCKING, HOCUS CROCUS, SUTURE SELF and what about Sarah Graves MALLETS TOOL & DIE I mean she really hits the mark when it comes to hammering out great titles. I love Nancy Drew titles THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE or MYSTERY OF THE LILLAC INN and I go back to Sarah Graves a minute when I think of how intrigued I was by her title DEAD CAT BOUNCE. Elaine Viets has some pretty wonderful titles such as JUST MURDERED and her current release HALF PRICE HOMICIDE or what about Dorothy Howell's HANDBAGS and HOMICIDE? See they all let you know what you're in for and to me that is important. I may or may not read the back blurbs or jacket description but I always stand by the titles of a book. The RED LAMP by Mary Roberts Rinehart is a simple title that says so much. Sarah Atwell's book SNAKE IN THE GLASS is in my tbr pile and what about Jeff Cohen's SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED? What a feast for the senses! I love titles that tell me something about the book like Elizabeth Lynn Casey's DEATH THREADS and Monica Ferris's KNITTING BONES, FIT TO DIE by J.B. Stanley there are sooo many books and so little time that this helps narrow down my book shopping and also helps when I think of a friends's taste in reading then I can tell her about a book that I think she will like and NEVER hurts to remember the title so you don't have to look it up.
Back to my orginal question "How important are book titles to you"?


  1. I think they catch my eye and then I see what they are about. And the puns used in cozy titles are often brilliant. Love Donna Andrews' ones like WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS or COCKATIELS AT SEVEN.

    On the other hand, horror titles can really grab me as well. Even simple ones like Stephen King's IT. I didnt know before I read the book what IT was but it was scary for just that reason.

  2. Yes one that caught my attention recently was Sink Trap by Christy Evans there are just so many wonderful covers and I admit I am hooked on looking for book covers at the bookstore when I visit my daughter in Kansas City because their displays often catch my eye and Barnes & Noble in Blue Springs is neat, tidy and very user friendly.

  3. I love titles too! And titles definitely play a part in my decision about book purchases. I will say that I have been disappointed in books whose titles were a lot better than the book deserved.


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