I suck at titles. I envy writers who can come up with memorable zingers like The Grapes of Wrath or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Even 50 Shades of Grey is a marginally clever title. Certainly cleverer than my usual approach, which is basically to use the first word of a piece as its title, hence essays in my collection called “Alien,” “Imagine,” or “Boys.” The essays themselves often end up being pretty decent (IMHO), but without a catchy title, I worry that they may not resonate with enough readers. Because, let’s face it—we judge books by their covers, and an important part of the cover is the title.
Could this be why the book I’m pitching has been rejected over and over? Is the title simply not catchy enough? That’s honestly one of the questions I’ve been mulling as I try to use whatever scant feedback I’ve gotten to hone my proposal. Everybody keeps saying how you have to wow agents and editors from page one—maybe they mean the title page?
Or maybe I’m overthinking it. A rose by any other name, right? Well, theoretically, I guess. The fact is, names matter. A good title should offer just enough clue about the book to entice the reader to open the cover. Part of the reason I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is so appealing is because the title itself sings.
Thank God for Buzzfeed. I took one of their famous quizzes over the weekend to find out what the title of my memoir should be, and came out with solid gold.
Regrets, I’ve had a few. But you won’t read about them in my memoir. How about you? Wanna try it? You can take Buzzfeed’s quiz here, and don’t forget to share your results. The Buzzfeed titles alone are well worth the read.