Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unique

I recently read a book where the title was a play on words.  It was a single word but spelled slightly different as if made up of two words.  It did have meaning to the book and I can see why the author liked it.

But.

When I thought about mentioning the book to someone I refrained.  They would have asked for the name and I would have to go into a big long explanation about the different title.  If I just used the real word the unique spelling would have made it hard to find.  So I just didn't mention it. And in a business where the best advertisement is word of mouth that's a killer.

You may want to think about that if you are leaning towards naming you book something made up or with unique spellings.  Will your reader be able to find you? And will people want to explain, or talk about the title?

25 comments:

  1. Yeah, that could go two ways. Either people will be excited enough to go into a long-winded explanation ... or they won't bother. An example of K.I.S.S. maybe (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

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  2. Oh, that would be tough. The same is true for author names. If I can't remember it or can't pronounce it, I'm going to have a hard time looking the author up unless I remember the title of the book. And that would be a double whammy if it had a title like you mentioned.

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  3. Good points. We definitely need to pick titles that people can pronounce and hopefully remember.

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  4. That is rough, although some recently successful books have had titles like that. I still aim for memorable titles that haven't been used, or over used, yet. :)

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  5. Was that book REAMDE, by any chance? I know Stephenson had the jacket of that book designed so you could tell it was a deliberate "misspelling."

    We went to a restaurant recently called "Flamez." My husband and I were debating in the car on the way over if it was pronounced "Flah-may" or "Flah-mez." The kids looked at us like we were total morons and my daughter said, "Guys. It's 'Flames,' but with a Z."

    So yeah, you can overthink these things. :)

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    1. 'The kids looked at us like we were total morons and my daughter said, "Guys. It's 'Flames,' but with a Z.'

      Ha! Love this. Especially since I can totally picture her face and voice. :) :)

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  6. I know what you mean about off names sometimes it's hard picking the title. When I published The Sacrificial Lamb, the original title was The Sacrifice but there were 8 books with that title. In the year that my book came out there were three others also published with the same name. But when the name and author's name are unreadable it poses a problem.

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  7. As for the post topic, yipe. Good heads up, I think.

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  8. I agree. It's like trying to spell the name of the street you live on to a customer service representative in India and they can't understand you because someone in the County naming division decided to get creative! Yah, so I agree.

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  9. Very true. Word of mouth is important, and so are titles. Something memorable is great, but in a good way.

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  10. Good point, no reason to make it any harder to find than necessary.

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  11. Interesting post. Today, I selected a cover design for my book primarily based on the fact that it's... unique. But I guess you're right about the title. Being too "cutesie" may shoot a writer in the pocketbook.

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    1. Unique isn't bad. But confusing or long winded is. We don't want a title that is super common, which is one of the problems with this book. The title didn't stand out so she tried a different spelling, and that just doesn't work.

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  12. That's a great point...in a word of mouth business, you need to have your product easily expressible.

    Very true.

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  13. Hadn't thought of that before. Good point.

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  14. Excellent alert. Unique is one thing, but don't be so unique you make yourself oblique ;)

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  15. Sometimes unique titles playing on words could work if people can remember it. I met someone recently who mentioned the book The Tender Bar, and at first I wasn't sure what that was all about, and then she told me it's a memoir about a man and bars. So here's an example of a play on words that worked on me, a would-be reader.

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    1. But those are all real words so while it's unique it's not un-accessible.

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  16. My first book has unique spelling but the name has stuck: FÉLICITÉ FOUND. The title has double meaning. The female character is Parisian, therfore her name is spelled how it would be spelled in French: FÉLICITÉ. I hope it isn't a problem one day with people finding the book as you mentioned. But I just could spell her name Felicity, it just didn't make sense, culturally speaking.

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  17. You have an award, Sara, over at SC.

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  18. That makes such sense. That's actually why I'm publishing my books under a pseudonym. Spent my life having to spell my name and surname to people. And they always forget the latter.

    Heck. My mom was engaged to my dad and still forgot it. ;-)

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  19. Excellent point, Sara. My WIP's old title was One Wrong as in One Wrong Doesn't Make a Right. And just as you said, every time someone asked me what the title was, I had to go into a long explanation. So, I changed it to Broken Man. Nobody looks at me strangely now when I say that.

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  20. I can see that. Even my own title, Out of the Water, seems a bit heavy handed now that I'm querying with it...

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