Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Reader Poll

Okay, I'm adding some more potential titles for my novel. Please help with your feedback. Which of these do you think will make a publisher furrow his or her brow and think, "hmm, that sounds like it's worth a look":

In the Dirt
Dirt Rich
Clean and Dirty
Bleeding on a Dirt Floor
Living in the Dirt
Burning Boats
Live Cargo
Control Freaks and Other Skeptics
God and Other Skeptics
This Child of Earth
Child of Earth
Illegals and Drive-by Tourists
Drive-by Saviours
The Illegal
The Illegal Boy
The Fisher-Boy
The Storyteller

Thanks kindly for your feedback.



These letters from Sam? How big of a portion of the novel are they?


no, this is a different, full-length novel i've been working on for the past few years, which I've mostly been calling The Subway Novel. If you click the tag Subway Novel you can see other posts about it and excerpts.
I still like Living in the Dirt.
I'm stubborn.

(at least I think I voted for it last time!)

You know what I'm voting for already.

Hee hee!

It's a great book.
Bumi is most original.

The rest are sort of jam labels.
or how about just 'In the Dirt'?
I love "The Fisher-Boy", but then again, what do I know... :)
Heart! Long time no see. Are you back in the bloggingspheric? Thanks for your input, and I'm sure you know a lot, not least of which your own opinion, which is always a valuable tool in negotiating with hucksters and tricksters.
I think titles shoud be more direct rather than full sentences, though here and there, there are exceptions, as in the title of an old movie, "He Knew He Was Right."
We are talking about a ficitonal character, of course, but you could try something in more congtemporaty usage.

Dirt Bag?

you have a point, Ivan. Although one of my favourite titles of late has been Lullabies for Little Criminals.

Dirt Bags doesn't quite fit.

Now I'm thinking Drive-by Saviours. Or Dirt Rich.

I'm driving me crazy.
Well, when I was in the newspaper business as a headline writer (copy editor), they used to tell me to get the point of a story, take an angle on it, and summarize it in a capsule. Key then was speed and accuracy. You had about two minutes to come up with a headline.
Hate to say it, but I was neither speedy or accurate.

When poor Martin Luher King was assassinated, I only had two columns for a 48-point headline.I had simply put in 'King Offed."

The edtor (or Slot man) then gave me two weeks notice. I was, uh, fired.

But then the Toronto Telegram got "fired", --went out of business at the same time.

Off me? Off you!

But I guess I was too ghetto, at least in my usage, for them.

...........Oops. Anybody write a book titled "White Trash"?...If not, it migh be an idea for your title.

Compulsidon neurosis.

Looks like I got it too.

"You know you[re white trash when your girlfriend sticks her toes through the knee part of her pantyhose and walks around."

They say the truth always comes out in humour!
"Illegals and Drive-by Tourists"

This title alone caught my attention and would make ME pick the book off of a shelf and at list thumb through it.


The title should, in my opinion, say EXACTLY what the book is about. The reader may not know it at the time, but in retrospect it should (poetically)capture the novel. I don't think any of those sound like they have that potential, except for Child of Earth, which I also like. No idea what the book is about, but those there are power words, and power words are better than catchy phrases. Thínks I.
You need to check out Lulu Title Scorer. It's an algorithm based on the construction of bestselling titles, and it has an uncanny accuracy in predicting the success of a title in the marketplace.

"In the Dirt" scored 26%
"Dirt Rich" scored 22.9%
"Clean and Dirty" scored 26.3%
"Bleeding on a Dirt Floor" scored 55.5%
"Burning Boats" scored 69%.
"Live Cargo" scored 41.4%
"Control Freaks and Other Skeptics" scored 10.2%
"God and Other Skeptics" scored 34.8%
"Bumi" scored 45.6%
"This Child of Earth" scored 26.3%
"Illegals and Drive-By Tourists" scored 26.3%
"The Illegal" scored 10.2%
"Drive-By Saviours" scored 69% (pretty good)
"The Illegal Boy" scored 10.2%
"The Fisher-Boy" scored 10.2%
"The Storyteller" scored 10.2%

I'd say they were all nice titles. But since Lulu likes "Drive-by Saviours," I'd think I'd go with that one.
Oops, "Burning Boats" did well too.
PP: I believe you did indeed.

Toast: thanks, and thanks for reading it!

Ivan: not sure i'd eat a jam called 'in the dirt'. King Offed eh? Guess those were sensitive times. That title seems appropriate enough to me, considering the organized criminal effectiveness with which he was wiped out.

TWM: Thanks, that's my wife's vote too.
Thanks Jeanne. Child of Earth does sort of do that, but Living in the Dirt probably best describes what it's about. Power words eh? Something to consider.

X.Dell: what a remarkable thing. i couldn't resist running a few other titles through. To Kill a Mockingbird got 26 %, Love in the Time of Cholera I think got about 10 %. Satanic Verses did a little better, but it was less than 50%. Leafstorm, a lesser known Marquez novella, got 67 %. So, I dunno. It's interesting to see the results. And it sort of matches my thinking about what titles are catchiest.

When I worked at the newspaper in Ghana my boss decided to run very sensationalistic headlines for a while to see what happened. We still ran the same content, which by Ghanaian standards was quite balanced and fair and accurate, for the most part. Our sales shot up. Then he stopped the experiment and sales went back to normal. I guess catchy titles matter.
Without having much of a clue the context I like "God and Other Skeptics" but primarily because it reminds me of the trilogy fleetingly referred to in the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

"Where God went wrong"
"Some more of God's Greatest Mistakes"
"Who is this God fellow anyway?"
Lynn: welcome here. thanks for your enthusiastic vote.

Ant: heh, Toast and I were just talking about that dry british humour the other day. Where God Went Wrong is a great title.
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