Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

It turns out you really can judge a book by its cover

Posted on

Almostmoon_l

Almostmoon_lMy least favorite part of the writing process is titling my work. I’m very particular about titles, because I judge all books by their titles. If the author couldn’t come up with a few intriguing words for the cover, what exactly should I expect in the following 450 pages? Let’s say you’re a writer and the title of your book is A Summer in Nantucket. It might be a national bestseller. It might make Oprah cry. A well-respected critic could declare: “If you only have the opportunity to read one book in this lifetime, read A Summer in Nantucket…a literary triumph, a revolutionary masterpiece, your once in a lifetime.” I’d still pass. A Summer in Nantucket sounds like the sort of book you own but never read, something you keep in your beach bag in case a friend who never returns anything asks to borrow a book. Now, let’s say you wrote the same book, but you titled it Nanfu**it. There’s punning profanity. It’s edgy. Parents are picketing to get the book off display shelves. It doesn’t say, “Read me now,” it says, “Read me, don’t read me, hell if I care.” A Summer in Nantucket might cure insomnia, but I’m reading Nanfu**it.

EW.com has a bestselling fiction chart. I would know, I update it every week. If you’re a writer on the search for the perfect title, consider these observations.

FACT: The odds of your book becoming a bestseller increase dramatically if your title includes a cosmological reference. This week on the chart we have, The Almost Moon (No. 2), not to be confused with Dark of the Moon (No. 6), Star Wars: Death Star (No. 12), or the alternative, A Thousand Splendid Suns (No. 4). For you, that leaves: On the Bright Side of Dusk, The Soul’s Lunar Eclipse, and Stars that Blackout around Dawn.

FACT: If you collaborate with a fellow bestselling writer, it can produce some interesting book chart anomalies and contradictions.  Case in point: this week on the chart we have Run (No. 11), followed by the less ambiguous, Shoot Him if He Runs (No. 13). Currently up for grabs: Speed-Walking to a Slow Death, Move and You’re Dead (So Get Moving), and Quit Running So Fast, I’m Trying to Kill You.

FACT: Convincing the naive masses that they have buried potential and undiscovered talent isn’t the only way to make the non-fiction bestseller list. Become a Better You (No. 1), Be the Pack Leader (No. 15), and Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and in Life (No. 14) worked, but not all readers fall for these self-help title traps. Consider a title with a tone of desperation or indifference, something like Come On People (No. 5) or If I Did It (No. 13). A few ideas: You Haven’t Reached Your Maximum Potential…Yet, Everyone is Sick of Your Bulls**t, and This Kinda Worked For Me.

So PopWatchers, what about a book catches your attention? What are some of the best/worst book titles you’ve ever heard?  If you’ve read Become a Better You and became a better you, let me know. Exactly how much better are you at being you?  I liked you a lot more before you were better…