Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Listen for Great Book Titles
Book Titles are Seen and Heard--Listen
for Ones That Catch Your Ear, and Why
By Susan Kendrick
This past week I was listening to public radio while driving and captivated by the very energetic introduction to the next program, "Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders" hosted by Jean Feraca. The guest was an expert on grains, but not in the eat-these-they're-good-for-you way. Somewhere in her early adulthood as a journalist living on frozen pizza, she had rediscovered a moment in childhood when a small bag of sweetened Greek dessert had delighted and transported her during a very sad time. And now this writer, journalist, and cook has contributed to Gourmet, Saveur, and Gastronomica, as well as Marie Claire, and Elle.
In the introduction to this guest and her celebration of grains as comfort food, desserts, and more, I heard phrases like "gorgeous grains" and "ancient grains for modern meals." Feraca spun a web of words so rich, I couldn't wait to hear if the guest had a book and which of these delicacies was the title.
The guest, of course, did not disappoint. Maria Speck was passionate, personal, joyful, and highly articulate about every nuance of her topic. And, yes, she is the author of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More.
Take-Aways You Can Use
The Reason I am posting this book title and radio interview here is because there are a couple of good take-aways. First, a good book title needs to clearly communicate your topic, but a great book title "sounds" good doing it. It rings. Ancient Grains for Modern Meals is a great example of three good book title strategies that make this title sound good:
(1) Rhyming--Ancient Grains
(2) Alliteration--Modern Meals
(3) Parallel Construction-- Ancient Grains is a simple,
two-word descriptor that sets up another simple,
but contrasting two word descriptor, Modern Meals
Now, granted, authors and publishers do not always and do not need to create book titles on such a dissected level. These types of book titles are usually equal parts intent and serendipity. So listen. Listen to how you talk about your topic. Get your friends and collegues involved. See what rises to the surface in conversation. A great book title is easy to say, hear, and remember. It says what is new and different about you and your book.
Listen to this broadcast for a good example of how great a book title can sound.
One More Thing That Works
The other thing I noticed while listening to the introduction to this interview was all of the other descriptors that came up and initially had me wondering which one was the title. Was it "Gorgeous Grains"? Was is "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals"? This is a good time to point out that any phrase that does not make the final cut as title, can still be used to great effect as a headline or sound bite about your book. In this case, I imagine that "Gorgeous Grains" could have been on the table at some point as a possible title.
So, as the saying goes, listen and learn.
© 2011, Susan Kendrick, Write To Your Market™. All Rights Reserved.