We all know that covers sell books. But what about titles? How important is it that we get the right title? A title that invokes the spirit of the story; a title that describes the story; a title that grabs the readers’ attention?
To highlight the impact of a good title, I’m going to recall a story that happened to me recently. But it doesn’t involve books; it involves music.
So, I was in the car with my two daughters when a tune that I really like came on the radio. Naturally, I dialled up the volume, boosted the bass, and carried on driving with my head going up and down like a nodding dog.
The tune in question was Walking With Elephants; a house track by DJ/Producer Ten Walls. I personally think this is a great tune, but it’s not really kids’ music. Nevertheless (and to my surprise), both my girls loved the track and I’ve been pestered to buy it ever since.
If you go and have listen, you will hear that it does indeed invoke the image of walking with elephants – which is key to the point of this post.
I have since wondered: would my girls have enjoyed this tune as much had it been called something like Tubas and Trombones or Dancescape Eternal? Is it the invocation of elephants that caught their attention and then ushered them on to enjoy the track itself?
I believe it was. I believe that without this title, they would have ignored the radio, carried on playing with their Monster High dolls and continued to perpetually ask ‘if we’re there yet’, as opposed to enjoying this four-minutes of music.
And to bring things back to a literary perspective; I’m not saying that a book can coast along on the strength of a good title alone, but I would argue that a well conceived title can certainly provide the flavour of the book, set up the story to come, and help the reader through those crucial first few pages.
So how about you? Can you think of any books, films or tunes that relied more than others on a killer title? Or perhaps a title that turned you off buying a book or one that could have been better?
Thanks for reading.