>Killer Titles


I’ve been thinking about book titles lately, because of the very good news that I’ve got a new book coming out next year from Press 53, a great small press that also published my first book, In an Uncharted Country. And while I’ve had a working title for that book for a long time, I suddenly came to doubt it, and came up with an alternative. And then another. And another.

So I was intrigued this morning when I saw GalleyCat piece, Three Elements of a Killer Title, which links to a blogger’s discussion of the subject, Three Criteria for a Killer Title. (Apparently GalleyCat didn’t think Katie Ganshert’s title was sufficiently “killer”.)

Her three criteria/elements are:
1. It has to represent the story
2. It has to be intriguing
3. It has to sound good

Okay, I can’t really quarrel with these, but I’d add a fourth element. A really killer title has to be memorable. That’s what I’m looking for. So that’s my 4-part test: appropriate, intriguing, euphonious, and memorable.

So, where does that lead me in my own decision making? I think I’m sticking with my working title, which has been WHAT THE ZHANG BOYS KNOW. It’s a novel in stories about the Zhang family of Washington, DC. The title is striking and memorable, I think, and it certainly represents the story. It also suggests intrigue (what do they know?), and I like the rhythm of it, so to me it sounds good.

Of the 12 stories in the book, 6 have been published, and I’m now making a push to get as many of the remaining stories published as I can before the book comes out next fall. And then, be on the lookout for this book!

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