BookDropIN this third of a series of Q&As and blogs exploring book titles, I welcome three more bloggers – Cleopatra, Carl and Sally – who’ve read and reviewed hundreds of books between them. 

Coming up with a catchy title can be a struggle for authors and publishers. It took several months of head scratching before I finally settled on The Husband Who Refused to Die for my debut. 

But how much importance do readers put on a name when they choose from the vast selection of newly published novels? And does my own title hook them?

First up to answer my questions is Cleopatra, at www.cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com, who read 155 books last year. Cleopatra loves crime fiction – particularly the sub-genres of police procedurals, psychological thrillers and books inspired by true crimes – and also enjoys historical crime (both true and fictional) and historical fiction (especially books with dual time-lines).

Is the title a significant factor when it comes to choosing a book?

I like a good title, and a catchy one definitely draws the eye to a book. However, I tend to judge a book in order of author, synopsis and reviews rather than the title or cover – although these might initially attract me.

What do you look for in a novel title, and what do you see as its function? 

As I have a shockingly bad memory for names – which also extends to book titles – it’s better if it’s slightly unusual, so that I actually remember it.

What novel titles have particularly impressed you?

A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson

A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

Any titles you’ve not liked?

Anything with Girl in it, as they all blend into one another!

 Has a title ever put you off reading a book, or even turning it over to look at the back cover blurb? 

I don’t think I’ve ever not bought a book based on the title, and I have a whole heap of books with Girl in the title, so that alone clearly doesn’t stop me if the blurb is good.

Have you ever bought a book based on the title alone?

I often like the titles of cosy crime fiction. Although this isn’t something I read a lot of, the title can sway me. One memorable one is Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk by Stephen Kaminski.

My novel is called The Husband Who Refused to Die. What are your thoughts on this as a title?

Yes, I like that it’s catchy and intriguing. It raises a few questions without knowing anything about the book.

What genre would you assume it to be?

I’m going to answer, and then check, and I guess some psychological suspense? Ok, well not quite – and I was completely off-target about the premise!

If you wrote a book about your reading life, what would you call it? 

From Princesses to Poisoners

Next to share his thoughts is Carl, at bookebloke.blogspot.co.uk, who enjoys crime, comedy, espionage and non-fiction, and read 45 books in 2016.

Is the title a significant factor when it comes to choosing a book?

Absolutely, but cover art comes first for me I think.

What do you look for in a novel title and what do you see as its function? 

It must be short and snappy; 5 words maximum. Apart from the cover art, the title helps you to form your first impressions of the book and, fairly or not, determines whether you buy it.

What novel titles have particularly impressed you?

 The James Bond novel that came out in 2015: Trigger Mortis, which is obviously a play on rigor mortis and an obscure Only Fools and Horses reference. I like one word titles too; simple, intriguing words like goldfinger, thunderball, scorpius, personal, tripwire etc.

Any titles you’ve not liked?

50 Shades of Grey, sounds like a range of emulsion or something.

Has a book title ever put you off reading a book, or even turning it over to look at the back cover blurb?

No, I always look at the back cover or read a few pages. Even if the title’s awful it doesn’t mean I won’t buy the book.

Have you ever bought a book based on the title alone?

No

My novel is called The Husband Who Refused to Die. What are your thoughts on this as a title?

 It’s intriguing. Good title.

What genre would you assume it to be?

Psychological thriller.

 If you wrote a book about your reading life, what would you call it? 

 The Wanderer

Next up is Sally, at salsworldofbooks.co.ukwho reads mostly women’s fiction but has also discovered a taste for crime/thriller novels and recently dabbled with historical romance. She’s lost count of the number of books she read in 2016 and only a fraction of them made it to her blog for review.

Is the title a significant factor when it comes to choosing a book?

 Not always.  Sometimes the title doesn’t give very much away until you have read most of the book.  Sometimes it gives a little hint about what is to come.  Very often there are taglines too, which expand on the title somewhat.

What do you look for in a novel title and what do you see as its function? 

It depends on the genre.  For a thriller, I like something that gives a hint about the theme or the story, whereas, for a romance or chicklit, I’m usually attracted by something humorous.

What novel titles have particularly impressed you?

Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe was a summary of the theme of the book by Georgia Hill and gave plenty of hints about the story. Generally speaking, if a title mentions chocolate or cake it attracts my attention and then I look for more reasons to read the book.

Any titles you’ve not liked?

Possibly a controversial choice but I don’t find Gone Girl a particularly evocative title (but then again I didn’t enjoy the book much either so perhaps the two are related).  I’ve gone through my Amazon back orders and found The Debt and the Doormat, which doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting, and I don’t remember reading it.

 Has a book title ever put you off reading a book, or even turning it over to look at the back cover blurb?

 It would be a combination of the title, the cover and the author that would stop me reading the blurb, or buying it.

Have you ever bought a book based on the title alone?

 Yes, You Had Me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson, and Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson (a little bit of a theme going on here I feel. I promise I’m not completely obsessed with food).

My novel is called The Husband Who Refused to Die. What are your thoughts on this as a title?

 My initial thought is that it sounds intriguing, although possibly it could be someone’s worst nightmare, depending on the relationship.

What genre would you assume it to be?

 It sounds very much like a thriller  (or perhaps a slapstick black comedy)

If you wrote a book about your reading life, what would you call it? 

 That’s a hard one to answer, particularly as I like varying styles of book. Perhaps something along the lines of Just One More Page, but anything I write is likely to be on a crime theme rather than autobiographical.