Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Best Book-title

+Title Tyranny

What makes one wonder about age? 
When things start getting slower? All sorts of things, I mean.
This is what I have been thinking all the while that I was unable to make a post on my blog. No, no serious glitch. Only I was able to work more frequently on books. It’s easy guess, as you could see me working fragments of sentences so shamelessly. 
Working with books crippled my usual abundant streaming of time that was veritably dedicated to blogging. Since blog posts were lacking in their frequency, I thought I had aged as a blogger. However, as you are already aware, my youthfulness has been rejuvenated as an author with my second book You Should Know How I Feel… and the consecutive volume of Hope, Vengeance and History Trilogy that is on its way to publication this coming July-August. As a result, perhaps, I may have had to stay away for some time from blogging.   
            Now the reason why made this post: some idea was burning in the back of my mind and eating all my attention voraciously. It was a question—
A Good Title 

Could titles be dictators of how a work would be viewed by its readers?

You should know how i feel
To answer the question one must take for granted the readers I mentioned here are the readers of the work, not of the author, in which case titles have not much of a business value than to evoke an aesthetic sentiment or empathy. This may be true either way; however, for a reader approaching a relatively unknown author, titles are far more important than otherwise. Who cares if Dean Koontz's new book is titled Innocence? Of course, we remember the title and get a copy at the earliest.

            I am not 'politicizing' book titles the way our university classes taught us. When we see a title such as You Should Know How I Feel..., we are reminded a bit of the charm of old Shakespeare, and the romantic vibes of modern Erich Segal. And we are brought into the magical world of those beautiful love stories, although you haven't yet seen the authors of the book in the same bestseller lists where you have seen Mr. Koontz or Mr. Segal. In such cases, book titles play a crucial role. The role is significant, not dictatorial.          
           
However, when market is the only concern for authors and publishers or either one of them, then titles could be tyrannical to the nature of the whole work.          
           
Innocence
What I attempt here may be perhaps part snobbery, part literary vigilantism, but I do feel that there is a necessity to discuss this area. What plays in the minds of the authors or publishers while fixing on the title of their books? This discussion demands my vagueness though; otherwise, my intention would be questioned as less short of being the former category. (I do not prefer someone belittle a discussion of such seriousness as mere snobbery)   
           
I remember seeing long book titles with the word ‘love’ inserted at least once, in the Indian English writing scene. This scenario is not exclusive to the Indian literary scene. Ever since the Kindle and eBook revolution proved to be a lifesaver for writers and publishers, titling has taken a new turn. “Keyword density” has become the mantra to follow while naming a book. Authors have started to resort to keywords as a sign post to pin their final label on their books. The more a keyword is in visibility, the more chances are for the word to appear in the book title. This explains the “love” curlicue on almost every romance printed in India. Love seems to be such a hot word in demand, after, perhaps, the success of a few campus love stories.

Does the tyranny of titles affect the quality of books in any way? I do not think so. Nevertheless, it may lead to a temporary imbalance between the title and the book, sometimes. Occasionally, you might buy a book expecting to read a romance, looking at the ‘love’ worded title, and might find a horrible coming of age story, instead. This is the scenario, which could also be called loss-of-money that we need to keep in mind, as readers. This can be seen as one of the reasons excerpts have become so popular lately. Some writers are so generous that they give away more than five chapters of their latest books in the form of free excerpts. Mostly because they can afford it, of course. James Patterson is the most generous among them, apparently.

A book title should make the reader feel, rather than simply explain what the book is all about. Feeling is what counts when someone pays for a book. I am not the only one who proposed the feeling-theory in business. You might find plenty of them across books on management. A book title can be tricky, especially for new authors. However, as we had already seen, a balance of art and economy (pun intended) should guide titling of books and not the latter alone.    

Next: Horror Makes Its Debut: The Best Book-title-2

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