Tuesday, August 4, 2009

what you missed at this morning's editorial meeting:

...a full-out rumble over numbers in book titles. Turns out Head Ed and Exec Ed can both get pretty riled up over number-titles ("A thousand and one ASSHOLES you must ARGUE WITH before you DIE!"), but it all ended peacefully, and INTERN has swept up the spoils of the debate:

-for better or for worse, 1001 is hot right now. So hot. If someone checked the mail right now and found an ms called "1001 Penny-Pinching Tips to Survive the Recession", BAM, instant contract! (but the advance would only be for $1001. Tis penny-pinching times.)

-101, as a number of units, is no longer cool ("101 Dating Tips from Grandmothers"), but is still OK as a course-title gimmick ("Grandma-Dating 101).

-365 is OUT. So last year. Who honestly reads a tip a day, or a recipe a day, or whatever, from the same book? Besides, it's 2009 and this year we're living in the NOW. Not the other 364 days. The NOW.

-2012 is IN. For anyone who doesn't know, 2012 is when Quetzalcoatl himself is coming back. Yeah, that guy. That guy who's bringing the apocalypse. But you only have a few more months to get your 2012 submission in, because those slots are filling up fast.

-7 is kind of OK. (this one was fiercely hashed out, and INTERN is a little scared to convey anything besides neutrality here in case word ever leaks back to Exec Ed). Specifically, 7 is currently OK in fiction titles (it's the new 3), but is totally played for non-fiction.

Go forth and enumerate!

PS. Dang, everyone who commented is way too on the ball—C indeed. Thank god for the giardia club.


  1. So to stay ahead of the curve I actually need to change my book to 10,001 Ways To Self-Combust. Because by the time I adapt my 101 things to 1001, that trend will have moved even higher and I need to be prepared.

  2. I wonder whether we've jumped to 1001 because people want to feel that they're getting more for their money. I don't know, however, if fiction writers can handle offering almost ten times more action in a single package. As to whether desperate authors will begin pitching their next ms as "a steamy romance with slasher elements, fairies, and philosophical revelations, marketable as MG/YA/Mainstream crossover with picture book potential", I guess that all bets are off.

  3. Hi Intern. I discovered your site recently through Janet Reid, and just wanted to let you know that I absolutely ADORE your blog. It's the only feed on my rss that I approach with the expectation that I'll actually read it through slowly rather than skim and press next. Thanks for the laughs and the insight.

  4. Technically, Kukulkan given that Quetzalcoatl belongs to the Chichimeca cosmogony (which includes the Aztec culture, but also so many others) and while he promised a return, he did not specify a date or anything like that.

    Kukulkan would be the Mayan equivalent of Quetzalcoatl (as in a God that is white and bearded and whose name means feathered snake, and left and will come back). And the Mayan calendar is the one that ends the world at 2012... so if the Mayan calendar announces the return of any God would be Kukulkan...

    Just as a cultural aside I guess... Sorry, carry on.

  5. I just wanted to stop by your actual blog (as opposed to the RSS feed) and tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog.

    You are so funny! I'm always excited to see a new post from you.

  6. Thanks for regular laughs at the expense of the publishing industry. This post is a classic.

  7. So to paraphrase the BEP and Fergie, "I'm so three thousand and eight, you're so two thousand and LATE". Gotcha.

    3 is the new 7 and
    brown is the new black.

    err...or something like that. *Sigh* Publishing is hard to understand, isn't it?

  8. How about "1001 Short Tales: for Bathroom Readers with Giardia."


  9. What are your plans for the apocalypse? Or should I say, post-apocalypse? Please say 'continuing my blog!'

  10. From a former librarian I can say that numbers are a royal pain. Depending on how good the library software and/or cataloger are there's a very good chance that typing something like "First to Die" into the search box will come up with no hits when there is a book called "1st to Die" out there. Down with numbers, I say. 1,001 is pretty safe, but 7 there's too much room for error wasn't there a movie called S7EVEN?

  11. I've only just worked out that those numbers aren't all negative.

  12. celi.a: INTERN plans to kayak into the 5th dimension. There might not be internet in the 5th dimension. Papyrus, maybe.

  13. I am so enjoying this insider's glimpse into publishing ( a mysterious realm, indeed.) I always wondered what my editor does in all those meetings. Thanks, Intern!

  14. So I guess '11am wear open toed shoes' is still a great title?

    curious where that came from ... check out my blog:


  15. Yes! My manuscript, "Homage 101: Eat, Pray, 1001 Ways to Kill 7 Zombies" is so on point!

  16. What about 1001 7-STEP PROGRAMS FOR A BETTER LOVE LIFE IN 2012?

  17. @Lucy - that is hilarious! Please write that for real.

    Do you think the number trend is also true for websites? I think the concept may be different, since content obviously goes live at a different rate. But http://1000awesomethings.com is doing really well!! And it's not even 1001!

  18. So glad to hear seven and fiction are happily married! I've been working on that number seven for years! ;)

  19. Dear INTERN, please let us know if there is room on that kayak. We've got skillz and all.

  20. INTERN, you inspired me. Well, you inspired me to tell my wife about the 1001 stuff, and she said "Then you should write something with 1001 in the title," and I said "I don't know 1001 things."

    But I thought about it a day and then I came up with my 1001 things, so I owe a debt of thanks to you.

    And to pay it back, I'm going to give you the title of the book YOU can write that will guarantee riches forever:

    2012 101: Your guide to the 1001 ways the world will change in the coming months.

    PLUS, you could probably come up with an inspirational journal out of that book.

  21. i would love to be a fly on that wall.

  22. What about e-speak titles like

    this book is so kewl the title has no caps


    R3ad Me