hell is finding a good title

E-mail from INTERN's book's editor this morning:

"I ran the [last 99,000 prospective] titles you came up with by our marketing people and sadly they can't work with any of them. We want something gritty and 'from the street'. Can you think of anything slangy that young people would pick up? If not, Stacy in marketing will come up with a title and you're going to hate it."

INTERN, for purposes of anonymity, probably shouldn't disclose what her book is about, but suffice to say INTERN is not, herself, particularly gritty or from the street (if you discount that anarchist hitchhiking phase a few years back). But let's just say the book is a guide to urban gardening (which it's not). Are the marketing people seriously wanting something like:

1. Yo Peeps, Let's Plant Some Shit: A Guide to Urban Gardening
2. The Smack-Down on Nasturtiums: Freaky Ho's Guide to Gardening
3. Pimp My Planter/Rock My (Window)Box: Gardening for the MTV Generation
4. String Beans and Skinny Jeans: Hipster's Guide to Hella Sick Veggies You Can Grow In Your Expensive Shitty Apartment
5. Shootin' up to Shootin' up (get it? plant shoots?): How I Went From A Gritty, Urban Street-Dweller to a Pleasant Urban Gardener Using the Power of Basil and Other Plants You Can Grow Yourself

INTERN has seen some scary titles emerge from the maws of Marketing People (and some good titles...but, weak as she is, INTERN's heart is constricted by fear of the former). INTERN is talking swarmy keywords, value-added subtitles, the whole works. If it sells it sells...

Advice to writers going through same: be afraid. Very afraid. Or you could just be trusting, which is perhaps a healthier option.

In other news, INTERN is putting together a list of her favorite small presses (especially poetry presses). Coming soon!

Comments

  1. Good luck, INTERN. It's remarkable that one can write a whole book (or several) and cannot seem to think of a title. What IS that, anyway? Some perverse form of writer's block?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I find myself what kinf of hip, urban gardening manual doesn't play off the word hoe/ho. I bet the marketing people would eat it up :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I picture Lil' Jon saying Yo peeps let's plant some shit, and it makes me laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I was told when I began sending in my editorials that the copy-editor would create a title for them. I'm not even allowed to suggest anything.

    Btw, I like numbers 2 and 3.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those would be awesome titles for a gardening book, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is hilarious. Your blog is so refreshing. Glad I found you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Pimp My Planter" would be a hit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh. My. God.
    You are so funny!
    I'm adding you to my fave blogs - hope you don't mind.
    Hang in there -
    G.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Poor Intern! Having your title changed sounds like a nightmare! I'm wishing you luck.

    ReplyDelete
  10. INTERN say: Megan: how did I NOT think of the hoe/ho pun? that's golden!

    Janette: not allowed to suggest anything? really? wow...then again, at least you're off the hook...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Freaking. Hilarious. You are a gem! #1 and the subtitle on #4 are priceless.

    ReplyDelete
  12. They're just saying that. They have no idea what they want. Just keep sending titles. What you wanna do is give them a crazy diversity of possibility. I mean, focus on different -styles- of letters (and ignore 'gritty' and 'from the street'--they don't even know what that means. They think 'What Color is Your Parachute' is gritty.)

    The Cornucopia of Night
    The Annabel Letters
    The Most Obvious Possible Lie
    Twe12e
    The Girls' Guide to Midnight

    Just find a list of 100 books and do one of your own in the style of each.

    J

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dude, what's with all the taglines these days? I guess they want to really really make super sure that people know what the book might be about. They might as well call it, "This Book is About Urban Gardening," and be done with it.

    But really...what is a little hint about your book's topic?

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's more hippie than street punk, but I once titled a research paper on arctic fox family structure "Free Love in the Far North." I've done five interviews about it, while my scientifically significant results have been mostly ignored. Sometimes a good title is all the hook you need!

    ReplyDelete
  15. INTERN say: Lindsey, that's an awesome title...and ironic how your awesome title actually contributed to your research being overlooked :P cool.

    Vacuum Queen: hint: it involves the brain...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh man, I hope Tarpaulin Sky, Ghost Road, and New Michigan Press are on there. Those are three of my favorites.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho, It's Off to Hoe We Go, Ho: The Urban Gizzle to Gardizzle'ing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. INTERN. you. equal. hilarious.

    keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I agree, "Pimp My Planter" would sell. I think I'd buy it for my urban garden. You should pitch it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I also thought "Pimp My Planter" was not far off the mark.
    But come on, what's the book actually about?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, The Intern,

    You're so funny. Come on, you write great blog titles. Can book titles be much harder?

    ReplyDelete
  22. EdAnon: seriously, INTERN *would* tell you because she likes you a lot, but INTERN also has an intensely paranoid/anxious streak and would have a mental breakdown the size of the moon if her anonymous cover got blown so early on...so let's just say it is non-fiction, and has to do with the brain and its quirks and bedevilments, and is supposedly for gritty or hip young people...I've already said too much...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Whatever it is, I want to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Probe My Lobes.

    Medula. (You've gotta imagine the visual pun of 'Medusa', when the designer messes with the 'l'.)

    Brainrave.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I like the first title. * is embarresed* OMG I LOVE THIS BLOG SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I can't wait to see the list of small presses!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh my god I love your blog."Yo Peeps, Let's Plant Some Shit: A Guide to Urban Gardening" had me rolling on the floor.
    I can't wait for the list of small presses. I'm being published by a small press and I'm afraid,very afraid of what they might come up with as a title for my novel.

    ReplyDelete
  28. INTERN say: list of small presses will be delayed a few more days...but is still coming!

    ReplyDelete
  29. My friend calls herself the Garden Ho -- says she's gonna get a T-shirt with that on it. "The Garden Ho's Guide to Digging in the Dirt." :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Without a doubt, pitch #3.

    Love the "Gardizzling" name Jessjordan came up with too. Totally street, and just rap-dumb enough to be intriguing to the younger set.

    Just found your blog - love your humour! I'll be back!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I say you DO write "Yo Peeps, Let's Plant Some Shit." Because I would buy it, and I don't even want to plant any shit.. but that title would tempt me anyway.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment