As long as we're talking about sex in crime fiction ... How do you react to the word "sex" in a title? Specifically if it's a mystery/suspense/crime novel? Does it pull you in or turn you off?

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It doesn't do anything for me one way or the other - it's the whole title which matters. Sometimes I'll buy a book because the title sounds appealing (I'm so shallow) but the use of one word doesn't affect me. I love shoes, but I usually don't care much for books that have 'shoes' in the title.
Agree. It is not the use of any individual word that sways me. I think a clever title or one with a good play on words would draw me in. About the only thing that would push me away is a title that looks like it is trying to be a ripoff or to confuse itself with something else. E.g. The Grapes of Anger or The Grapes of Retribution would turn me off, but I find delightful a wine shop near here, The Grapes of Ruth. But then, I might just be demonstrating my personal weirdness.
Well, The Sex Club is a good title, it's the cross that turns me off, to tell you the truth. Like Donna the word sex doesn't do anything for me one way or the other. I like a good sex scene and I dislike it when I think there should be one and the author has avoided it for no good reason.

I just read an interview with the author of The Jane Austen Book Club and she said that everyone thought the words Jane Austen on the cover would be what sold the book, but in fact it was the words, Book Club.

It's the same thing here, it's the word club together with sex that's interesting. I'll check it out (as soon as I finish Jon Loomis's High Season - a title which had me hoping for more dope, especially today, 4/20 day and all ;)
I'm asking because it seems to be a split decision. Many mystery readers say the title and/or cover turned them off. Some of my best reviews came from people who said things like: "I didn't think I would like this book, but ..." And my publicist thinks the title is working against sales. Yet, others (mostly writers) love the title and cover. I'm trying to learn from mistakes and perhaps consider a different title for reprints someday.
Umm, frequently the editor decides on the title. What is the title? That might help answer the question. But you might consider that readers are very different from each other. What turns one person on, turns off another. For me, the word "sex" would have to be relevant to the plot. I hate titles that just try to get people to buy even when it has nothing whatsoever to do with the story.
The tile is THE SEX CLUB, and there is a sex club in the book, and it is relevant to the mystery and plot. But there's no graphic sex scenes. It's a fairly traditional mystery (police procedural).
Sounds good to me. I wouldn't worry -- unless you're aiming for a particular group of readers -- i.e. the gentlest of cozy fans. :)
To be honest, I prefer to read historical mysteries, such as Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series and Anne Perry's Victorian age novels, because I don't like to read sex scenes. So, Sex, in the title would turn me off. I know several women who read novels aimed at teens because they usually don't have sex in them. But I've heard from a romance writer friend of mine that the 20-somethings prefer it in their romance novels.
You know you could just skip over the sex scenes--the literary version of lie back and think England, I suppose.
As a reader, titles are the first thing to grab me- then I turn to the first page- if i'm still interested I read the blurb on the back and then decide if the book is for for 'sex' in the title, it doesn't matter unless it is purely there for shock tactic or to seduce. I hate reading books with 'clever' titles where the content has nothing to do with the title.
Several years ago now a thriller came out called "The Sexual Occupation of Japan" by Richard Setlowe (a creative writing teacher of mine at the time). It got a starred review in PW but didn't do too well saleswise, I believe. It got a different title in Japan too. :)
LJ-- I'm interested in your progress. I love your title and cover.

I'm in the middle of an interesting experiment right now. My first book, LADYKILLER, was out last year and I have finished a stand-alone that I was calling, THE ASS END OF NOWHERE. I was told ASS isn't a good idea in a title, so I switched to A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH. But for a while, I tried, IT STARTED WITH SEX, as the title. It's the first line of a sex scene that I had inserted as a kind of prologue/first chapter. Starting with a sex scene is pretty radical and this one was pretty nasty, so I moved the scene to a flash-back later in the story.

I'm still looking for a publisher -- my first publisher doesn't like the new novel -- it's too unusual for them...

Any comments?


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