Monday, September 29, 2008

Do Titles Really Matter?

Do titles really matter? Yes! Publishers know that a great title can increase book sales. And magazine editors are always on the lookout for an attention grabbing title that can be displayed on the cover to attract readers. Writers need good titles (editors notice those manuscripts first) and readers love them (writers need readers!). Today most of my writing is assigned and once the editor and I have worked out the necessary details (topic, slant, word count, deadline) it's time for me to get started. For me getting started means finding the right working title. I can't begin writing until I have it. Call me quirky, or eccentric but I simply can't begin until I have a title that speaks to me, and one I hope will connect with my readers. And shorter is better these days ... so size does matter.

Finding titles:
  1. Cliche's are a great source (Heart of Gold)
  2. The Bible (think Exodus)
  3. Shakespeare's Work (All Our Yesterday's - my pick for a romance novel)
  4. Timely (Living Green)
  5. Theme (Forgiving Tip ... my children's story title, forgiveness, and a dog named Tip)

I love a good title!

Editors, A Writers Best Buddy

I've been lucky in my life ... with editors that is. As an inexperienced writer I needed help, professional help. Editors have cleaned up my clumsily written prose, checked my tendency to misplace adjectives, and caught my slipping povs (point of view). The editor's job is to prevent poorly written sentences from ever offending a reader, polish paragraphs, pick up spelling errors, and prevent grammatical embarrassments.

I love editors, their job is to catch my mistakes, offer suggestions, and make me look better. Remember an editor knows their readership. A good editor is a writer's best friend.

(Disclaimer: If you find any of the above mentioned mistakes, please remember I'm working without my best writing buddy.)


My first writing job was putting together a weekly Happenings Column in the late 1970s for The Community Times, a mid-size county newspaper. Happenings, for the uninformed are neighborhood events such as, car washes, PTA meetings, bake sales, first birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, and out-of-town guest. The pay was meager, definitely sub-minimum wage, but the benefits for an inexperienced beginner were tremendous. I quickly learned how to gather the necessary news to fill my column, I also learned to write tight, and meet a deadline (I stuffed my typed copy into the mailbox of a fellow reporter every Sunday evening - we never met) and act like a professional. I worked every day and once a week I was rewarded with seeing my words, my picture, and my work in print. Until that Thursday afternoon when I eagerly snatched the folded paper from my front yard and read: "Last Edition." The paper folded, I was out of work (no one told me), but it was too late, I was hooked.