Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Right Title For Your Bestseller

Today I'm going to help YOU craft the perfect title. The right title CAN and WILL ensure that your book hits the bestseller list. All you have to do is understand the formula and make it work for you!

Award yourself points along the way (points earned will depend on how closely you can follow the workshop guidelines) and at the end, find out if YOUR BOOK is destined to be a BESTSELLER.

Ready? Let's get started!

STEP #1 Use a career or identifying characteristic as the title, preferably something archaic, obscure, and possibly made up:

The + Profession/ Characteristic + ist/ic/er

My Title: The Sarcasmist

Other Examples: The Somnambulist (Jonathon Barnes), The Hypnotist (M.J.Rose), The Alchemist (Paolo Coelho), The Imperfectionists (Tom Rachman), The Piano Teacher (Janice Y.K. Lee), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

Points: 3 Bonus +1 if you chose "ist" (so much more current than last year's professions) and +2 if the profession/ characteristic is pertinent to the story but in a way that is metaphorical and not immediately evident simply by reading the back of the book.

STEP #2 Let's take this enigma up a notch! Instead of making the title--I mean, story--about the sarcasmist, make it about the sarcasmist's female companion:

The + Profession/ Characteristic + ist/ic/er +'s + daughter/ wife/ mistress

My Title: The Sarcasmist's Mistress

Other Examples: The Alchemist's Daughter (Katharine McMahon), The Heretic's Daughter (Kathleen Kent), The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger), The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Kim Edwards)

Points: +2 Penalty -5 if you used "Mother." Mothers are not sexy, and the female must bring a satisfying promise of sexuality in the novel.

STEP #3 Spell it out. Tell your reader that your book is about secrets! And lives! And secret lives that will no longer be secret when she READS YOUR BOOK!

Note: Don't worry about making your title too long. The longer and more meandering it is, the more literary value it will have!

The + Life/History/Correspondence/Confession/Society + of the + Profession/ Characteristic + ist/ic/er +'s + daughter/ wife/ mistress

My Title: The Rambling Secret Diary of the Sarcasmist's Mistress

Other Examples: The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot), The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (David Wroblewski), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz), The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Stephenie Meyer

Points: +3 Bonus +2 if you included the word "secret" or "mysterious" or "enigmatic". +1 for each additional adjective you can cram in to describe the life/society/etc.

If you've earned 10 or more points, congratulations! Your title is ready to go out in the world and sell you some books!

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