Titles are important and not just to the matchmaking mamas of Regency romances. They serve an important function for both readers and writers. A good title should give readers a taste of what to expect and leave them wanting more. A bad title, on the other hand, just leaves them wanting.
Like the name of a person, a title conjures up a vision. Imagine Tiffany Kaye rechristened as Prudence Gross; Nick Michaels as Harvey Ballard; or Deveraux St. James as Jerry Schmitt. They become different people.
Tiffany is a wayward party girl. Poor Prudence is a chemist married to her lab. Nick is dashing man-about-town while Harvey sounds like an accountant or perhaps a pro bowler. Jerry chugs beer from a can and smashes the empty against his forehead at parties. Deveraux is a trifle effeminate and daintily sips a Pink Lady.
So, while Madeline Hunter’s Provocative in Pearls works fine, Passionate in Polyester doesn’t. Provocative calls up images of bejeweled beauties, Polyester recalls a fashion disaster called the leisure suit.
Still, bad titles can be entertaining in their own right and there are websites and blogs devoted to the topic. To give the example of just one, Bookfail.com features such classics as The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods and The Big Coloring Book of Cocks. (http://www.bookfail.com/) The latter, sadly, does not refer to residents of a chicken coop. It’s enough to make me put down my crayon.
If a title is bad enough, it may even receive the questionable honor of winning the Diagram Prize, given for the oddest title of the year. Awarded at TheBookseller.com each March, you can vote for it now (http://tinyurl.com/ydk9pgh). If you choose to do so, you’ll note that none of the year’s shortlisted titles are from the romance genre.
To rectify that shortcoming, I offer the following titles for consideration. Should you decide to write the book behind the title, it will most certainly not win a RITA but it may put you in the running for a Diagram.
You won’t even have to give me credit for the title.
No, really. Please don’t.
Books You’ll Never See at Borders
The Hirsute Heiress – Amanda’s doting father, a rich shipping magnate, has taught her everything he knows but as her unibrow and mustache demonstrate, she’s missed a mother’s loving guidance.
The Reluctant Alien – His new bride isn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks. She’s from the wrong side of the universe.
Bowling For Brides – Norris Parker rose from the gutters and alleys of Jersey to become kingpin of reality television but his wife rolls a curve ball when she sleeps with one of the contestants.
Demons in Diapers – At The Nightcare Center, vampires and werewolves alike entrust their young into Abby’s loving hands until an outbreak of demonic possession turns her young charges into baby fiends.
Never Too Trampy – From her too-high heels to her too-blond hair, Cherie Blue is proud to push the limits of good taste but an surprise encounter with the wild side of a button-downed banker makes her antics look tame.
Sex and the Sanitation Worker – Marty, a struggling single mom, knows her early-morning flirtation with her good-looking garbage man can go nowhere. Still, she can’t help wondering about the man beneath those gray coveralls.
Billionaire Booty Call – On that fateful night, Jason sought satisfaction while Marie craved only comfort. Can they possibly find love?
Booty Call Bride: Book Two in the Booty Call Trilogy – An unexpected visit from Max Dunworthy’s grandmother transforms exotic dancer Jacie Mae from a one-night stand into his wife-to-be.
Booty Call Baby: Book Three in the Booty Call Trilogy – With one late-night call from her ex-boyfriend, Sophie was back in his bed. Now she’s having their booty call baby.
If you haven’t had enough bad titles, check out the following websites.
http://awfullibrarybooks.wordpress.com/ — The “Awful Library Books” blog. Full of bad titles and dated cover art.
http://facstaff.unca.edu/pbahls/TitleGenerator.html — One of several romance title generators. It gave me The Italian Sultan’s Insatiable Virgin. Hmmm…
http://www.ugoi.net/nonsense/gothic.html — Specializes in Gothic titles like Silver Misfortune.
http://tinyurl.com/ydjro96 — Gives not one but eight titles each time you click. The Stallion of the Frozen History came up for me.
http://tinyurl.com/y9asl4q — From the Smart Bitches blog, titles with attitude. Nymphomaniac Master, anyone?
www.romancenovelyourself.com — Like it says, you upload a photo and presto, you’re on a romance novel cover. (See earlier postings for examples).