Pub Rants

Worn Out Titles Revisited

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STATUS: It’s just another manic Monday. I have a house taking just forever to respond to our letter regarding changes we would like in the contract. Finally, the email comes and they just want to say NO to half our requests. Good thing we waited three weeks for that. I know they’re busy and all…

What song is playing on the iPod right now? ROXANNE by The Police

Guess what? I’m all caught up in reading all the partials I had to review (Sara will send out the letters tomorrow and any request for fulls have already gone out). Sara has a whole stack she needs to bring in tomorrow so I’ll look and see what date we are up to but the last dates I looked at were for mid-to late-May. When I look in the partial inbox, those sample pages are dated June 1.

And, and this is really icing on the cake, I read three full manuscripts this weekend as well. In a week, I’m not going to know what to do with myself.

And yes, I jest. I have plenty to keep me busy.

But because I’ve been reading samples pages Sara has passed on to me for review, I’ve been noticing some Title trends. Time to share.

I have to say that since my Katie rant, the number of projects with a Katherine derivative for the main heroine’s name has decreased dramatically. Maybe the same will happen with titles. I can always hope.

And the winners are…


Lots of lies running around but the little white ones are the most popular.


This shows up most for women’s fiction or romance titles.

3. BLOOD CURSES (or anything with BLOOD in the title frankly)

Yep, fantasy titles are usually the culprit for this one.

4. THE PHOENIX anything (add your own variation here)

This actually crosses all genres but mostly for SF&F.

21 Responses

  1. Eileen said:

    So you are saying my opus “The Phoenix’s Little White Lies Blood Curse Means No Second Chances” wouldn’t work for you. dang.

  2. 2readornot said:

    Does this mean the queries are caught up to June 1? Just curious…waiting as patiently as i can (did I mention I’m impatient?)….

  3. Anonymous said:

    Titles are so difficult. The book flowed out of me like bagfuls of sugar-free chocolate but when it came to naming the thing it took several weeks, a hundred vetos (fifty from me, fifty from my agent), and a hundred and one suggestions (thirty-one from me, twenty from him, and fifty from the agency interns). A workable, albeit not fantastic title was picked, and I believe that both he and I are secretly hoping that the editor will think of something new that will knock our socks off.

  4. Anonymous said:

    How about:
    Curses! No Second Chance for the the Little White Lies of the Blood Phoenix?

  5. Amra Pajalic said:

    Mmmm, now I know why my “not to ever see light” romance novel sucks so bad. I did every cliche in the book from the title “Second chances,” to the beginning which off course starts with her waking from a dream. Good thing I’m working on other things and sparing helpless agents and editors my sucky efforts.

  6. Anonymous said:

    Blame the writer, blame the plot. Blame the characters, blame the whole lot. One thing’s for sure; you can’t blame the name.

  7. E. Ann Bardawill said:

    How about – “The Assassin Wore Saucy Gucci Pumps with a Matching Faux Seude Purse In The Night”

    “The ______ That Ate New York”

    or the ever popular;

    ‘Love’s Gentle Teasing Rage’
    A story of a Spunky Woman who meets a Taciturn Man,but spurns him and sleeps with most of New Orleans, then suddenly realises Taciturn Man was the only one who truly loved her for whom she really was and so she travels across the rugged Outback of Lower manhatten to find him, only to learn that brokenhearted Taciturn Man took a ship to the Wilds of Africa – so she follow and dies of scruvy enroute.
    Or something.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Haha, how about Love’s Reckless Rash?

    An actual book I read years ago featuring the Lady Vanessa Sherwin-Williams, whose hair and eyes changed color mid-sentence, and who fell for illiterate bonehead Anthony Ardent. She boasted a full, lush, supple set of ruby-red, heart-shaped lips, and rode a fine Arabian stallion named Muammar Farouk El-Fezzi.


  9. Anonymous said:

    I’m fairly partial to the titles The Phoenix’s Second Chance or White Lies, Blood Curse. 😉

    I hate to say it, but the second one isn’t that bad in the right genre… (And no. None of my books have any of these words in their titles.)

  10. Zonk said:

    How much clout does a first-time novelist have, really, in choices like title cover art, and font?

    I consider the name of my novel a ‘working title’, and hope that they give the cover to a young, hungry artist who is open to suggestions.

    And it’s interesting to find something else that turns agents off; I don’t think we writers fully comprehend the sheer tedium of reading cliche after cliche for days, week, months on end.

    O,and for the record, my title doesn’t resemble any of those mentioned, LOL.


  11. Patrick McNamara said:

    Playing the grammar game, I put them together as “The Phoenix Blood Curses Second Chances with Little White Lies.”

    I don’t find a big problem creating titles, but it can sometimes be hard to come up with one that properly suits the story. Just recently I came up with a new title for an old manuscript that I like better.

  12. Anonymous said:

    This is too darned fun. . .so how about “Curses, The Phoenix Who Stole Second’s Chances” subtitled “The White-Lie Thief”

  13. Kathleen Dante said:

    Zonk asked: “How much clout does a first-time novelist have, really, in choices like title cover art, and font?”

    Title, none. If Marketing hates your title, it’s gone.

    Cover art, none … unless your agent managed to finagle you some.

    Font, wha-?!? None whatsoever!

  14. Termagant 2 said:

    LOL! You shoulda put a beverage alert on this.

    The last 3 romance contests I’ve judged have each had at least one SECOND CHANCES entry. Gotta love that title–apparently all us romancers do!

    And, yanno Kris–if you wanted contract changes, and they rejected half of ’em, you’re still batting .500, which most ballplayers would take any day. Yay you!


  15. Cheryl Mills said:

    How about: “Blood of the Phoenix; Curse of the the Little White Lies.”

    Of course, “Second Chance” would be the title of the epilogue. Leading into the sequel, “The Liars of Phoenix”.

    A horror/chick lit blend.