This last Sunday, one statement on a segment of CBS Sunday Morning titled, The Name Game caught me up short. Mostly Charles Osgood looked “at famous book titles, including the stories behind “Catch-22” with legendary editor Robert Gottlieb and “Winnie The Pooh” with British columnist Gary Dexter.” He talked about the naming of famous books like Catch-22 (originally titled Catch-18), The Postman Always Rings Twice (originally titled Barbeque), and 1984 (originally titled The Last Man in Europe).
But what made me sit up was that they talked about the effect the title has on a potential reader. A book’s title tries to encapsulate what’s in the book. In the piece Charles Osgood says, “A title is no small matter, because readers really do judge a book by its cover. … shoppers give a book just two seconds to make an impression before moving on.”
Two seconds. Those first words and the book’s blurb had better be great.
It reminds of the the Hemingway challenge to write a story in six words. Hemingway wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never used.” I also like, Horny professor. Failing coed. No tenure. –“A Short History of Academia,” by Sue Grafton