I've just had word EXIT MUSIC is the title of the forthcoming Rebus book, and all the angst over this title (which perhaps only us Rankin fans have been aware of) has prompted me to think long and hard about the significance of titles. I love it when I read a book and (seldom thinking about titles, as I do) suddenly feel so stupid because the title is so subtly brilliant and fitting.

But I do suck at coming up with titles. How important are titles to you, as readers? As writers? Has a title alone ever been enough to grab you and compel you to read a book?

I'd say it's like many other things. A good title adds to the total package. A bad title can dissuade a sale, but I'm doubtful titles alone - alone! - prompt a lot of sales. What do you guys think?

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Titles do make an impact, but also have finished a book and wondered why it was what it was - the title seemed to have no significance other than getting attention so you'd buy the book! Sometimes I've even kept reading to find out why it had that title. It can definitely influence readers. "Somewhere in time" is gong to attract a much different readership than "Basely Murder". Just a few quick thoughts.
Well, yes... those are good points. I was thinking more of just within the genre, but didn't say that, and certainly on the broader spectrum they have an impact as well.

With regard to the Rebus book title, for example, it was erroneously reported as being THE FINAL CUT. Both the actual title and that title play on the significance of Rebus's forthcoming departure from the police department and the fact that this book has been played up as possibly the last Rebus book. It means something to fans of the series, but what about random people walking into a book store who don't know about all that?

My own two cents was that I would have favoured EXIT WOUND (which I'm presently listening to) but that's just me...

I'd love to hear examples of books people have bought because of the title.
I love a clever title, and it might catch my attention and make me read the cover, but it won't make me want to buy it. What I read on the cover will. Sometimes I know by the title which of that author's series it falls in (like if it's Janet Evanovich I know it's Stephanie Plum by the title and that's helpful because I only like her Stephanie Plum books) and that is helpful because if I'm familiar with the author I don't have to know anything else to know if I want to read it.
The Last Coyote Michael Connolly grabbed my attention. I read the back of the book and it sounded like my kind of thing. I went back to the beginning and ended up reading all his books. i like continuity and references which don't deploy from the story yet are quirks about a character. Michael is also the only writer who made reference to the storyline when he signed a book for me. To me that makes him interesting as well as a great writer. I like all his titles.
Funny thing is normally i prefer one or two word titles. They are sharp and neat. I'm not to keen on an all iteration in a title, it gives off a feel of trying too hard! First impressions do count when i'm browsing in a bookshop.
Yes, i do think about these things..
Titles matter, but frequently the publisher chooses it. I dislike titles that have nothing to do with the book. Too many times you discover that a title was chosen late (perhaps by an editor) simply because it was eye-catching, and the author then inserted a meaningful sentence using the title somewhere near the end of the book. I like a title to be memorable for the story the book tells.
I've definitely bought books because of the title. If I'm browsing in a bookstore then the title and the cover are the first things that jump out at me. I'll then pick it off the shelf and read the back cover and the first page. Only if it still looks interesting after those will I buy it. The most recent book which I pulled off the bookstore shelves because of the title was my current read RAIN DOGS AND LOVE CATS (how could I resist a book named after a Tom Waits track and a Cure track?!)

I'm attracted to really bizarre titles. I wouldn't have discovered such wonderful books as NIGHT OF THE AVENGING BLOWFISH (John Welter), THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE and ISLAND OF THE SEQUINNED LOVE NUN (Christopher Moore) if the titles hadn't initially attracted me.

I love Christopher Brookmyre's titles and Charles Willeford's. Mark Haskell Smith's MOIST is one you can't say any way other than...well...with moist delight. Charlie Williams, Barbara Seranella, Victor Gischler, Bill Fitzhugh and Steve Brewer all have great titles. Some titles just grab you by the leg as you pass the shelf.

Others I don't care for so much. I don't particularly like titles that start "Death of A..." or "The Something Something Mystery" or have baking/quilting/horoscope/button collecting titles.

Some titles mean something once you've read the book. Others I don't have an earthly clue about but sometimes they just fit.
LOL! Yeah, those are some interesting titles, sure to catch the eye and the attention.
i think it depends on the writer. if someone is a unknown, title and cover are everything. for the established, a weak title can be forgiven, but might still hurt sales. i think title and cover have to work together. i'm not sure a great title with a shitty cover will sell; or a weak title with a great cover. and getting both is often a matter of luck. i've had strong titles that were discarded and replaced with weak titles (IMO). I cannot ever remember the title BEFORE I WAKE, and I wrote the damn book. If I can't remember it, how will a reader remember it when confronted with titles at the bookstore? i know for a fact that booksellers can't remember it. i visited with a bookseller while we both tried to remember the title -- and couldn't. :D

my title for that particular book was BAD THINGS.

another book that came out several years ago: GONE. their title: SLEEP TIGHT. SLEEP TIGHT isn't nearly as bad as BEFORE I WAKE, but I still think GONE would have made a better title. it's just stronger, IMO.
I've shared the story of THE BLACK WIDOW AGENCY title before, but it's worth repeating. A fellow CrimeSpacer, Narc07 and I work together for a New England-based Police Department. We were commiserating about life and especially life after the PD in my office one day when she mentioned half-jokingly, that she had plans for an all-gal private investigative agency that would aid other women. She had several other co-worker detectives on tap and suggested I'd handle the computer work. "And you know what I'd call it?" she said. "The Black Widow Agency." It was as if an explosion went off in my head. By that evening, I had all the characters with their raucous, take-no-prisoners approach, their disparate backgrounds, their quirks and their personalities firmly set in my head. The plot sort of came on its own, but it wouldn't have happened without her brilliance. So, thanks again, Kristyn.

To answer your question, the book is getting a great deal of attention because of its title. Hollywood is intrigued and it's not even on the shelves yet.
Titles are pretty important to me. Not as important as the author's name or a quick read of the first chapter, but a real plus for me. I will grab a book with a catchy title before I look at the dust jacket art. As for my own titles, I might mull over a title for a story for ages before making a decision...but rarely. Most of the time I will name one quickly and never change it. They are the ones that usually have a bit of humor or a double entendre. Katy Came Calling, my latest one, was instantaneous and stuck around the entire time. It sounded so antibellum and gentile...which the subject matter was absolutely not!

And I agree. Exit Music is a fabulous title.
Good titles are like good songs. They come around with enough regularity that you expect them to be good, but not so often that you're not snatched up when they're great.
LOL David. Would you mind naming my manuscript for me? Thanks a mill. Oh, and, I'd like a great one.


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