Tag Archives: titles

A great title WILL sell your book. To me anyway…

Phil: It’s my old editor’s fault. David and I are both VW campervan fans, and the conversions in our vans are by the Folkestone firm of Dormobile.

So, when he posted the cover of Tess of the Dormobiles on Facebook, I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before I read it.

The story concerns Theresa Finbow – a self-published author, and her plan to write the difficult second novel. She borrows a holiday cottage in a quiet area of Norfolk, the plan being to emulate her lead character Tess.

In Norfolk, a trip to the local pub brings her into contact with Billy, a local farmworker who has a mysterious and ominous past. Worse, his brother is the reason that Tess is on holiday without her husband.

Can Tess get her novel finished, survive contact with Billy and resolve the issues in her personal life?

Will Stebbings is a self-published author with at least five books to his credit. Tess of the Dormobiles is printed by Createspace, a print-on-demand house, and sold via eBay, which is where I bought it.

You might expect me to review this with 2 stars and tell you I’d been ripped off. And you’d be wrong.

OK, the text could do with the attentions of a copy editor. There’s too much nerdy detail in places. Both Will and Tess know Norfolk and relate some locations in a very blokeish way with road numbers. I also query what two chapters of the fictional Tess book add to anything.

But, as I read it, one word kept popping up in my head – fresh. The writing is fresh and enjoyable. The plot rolls along well and a few surprises are chucked in along the way, especially the twist at the end. It’s not the best book I’ve read, but a lot better than many efforts by names famous for things other than writing.

I’m pleased the title, which is explained in the story, sold me this book. Reading it was fun. Owning it is a bit of a laugh. Passing it on to La Nolan will be a pleasure.

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Clever book titles

Phil: I’m reading “Step back in time” by Ali McNamara at the moment. There will be a review next week once I’ve rattled off the final 80 pages (Spoiler: I’m enjoying it) , but the thing that struck me was across the top of the cover:

From the bestselling author of From Notting Hill with Love…Actually

Notting Hill?

Love Actually?

Weren’t they a couple of massive films from a few years ago?

Admittedly, I’ve not seen either but I do remember the titles.

I can’t work out if this is clever or sneaky marketing. How many people think they are buying a book written by the authors of the films? (Note: Both films were written by Richard Curtis)

More to the point, surely there is some sort of copyright thing going on?

Could we call our book “Fifty shades of the prisoner of the Davidic Code”?

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The curse of the EPG

Electronic program guides (EPG) provide users of television, radio, and other media applications with continuously updated menus displaying broadcast programming or scheduling information for current and upcoming programming.

Phil: If you think that grabbing the reader attention at the start of a novel is tough, imaging the challenge that television programme makers face now we are in the era of digital television. With you potential viewers using EPGs to decided what to watch next, the programme title is crucial. Those few characters have got to sell the content.

This is why TV programmes have rubbish titles now. The first stop for any titler is to see if there is a celebrity presenting the thing. If there is then bung that name in the title. Hence we have “Ian Hislop’s Stiff Upper Lip – An Emotional History of Britain”, which in the world of the EPG will be reduced to “Ian Hislop’s Stiff Upper Lip”.  Likewise, BBC3 has “Cherry Healey: How to Get a Life”. I’ve no idea who Cherry Healey is or where she came from but in the same way local newspapers like to stuff their pages with faces, programme titles like a name. Any name.

If this doesn’t work then try for something that sums the content up in as few words as possible – The boy whose face fell off – for example. No mystery, plenty of titillation.

This isn’t easy. On-line we’ve been coping with trying to sell websites in less character than Google puts up in the search results. If your page title is “Home page” then, as the kids say, Epic Fail. I once caught someone on a site I was looking after stuff titles with code numbers to make the pages easy to find in the content management system. I locked him in a cupboard without food and water for a week for this crime.

“Why are you thinking about this Parker?”, I hear you cry.

Well, it’s all down to our last post. Once it had gone live on the blog, both Candice and I shared it with our friends on Facebook. Sadly, my sentence “Grammar nazis are everywhere and there’s nothing the pedants like more than arguing over the semantics of your words rather than wasting time reading and comprehending them.” was shortened.

Thanks to the law of unintended consequences, the pedants were arguing over something entirely different:

I wonder if it encouraged anyone to come to our site!

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