A Bad Title Acts As Reader Repellant: How I Named My Book

In Tips & Tricks, Writing Inspiration by Roz Warren | |

First Published on Women’s Voices For Change

Every writer (and every reader) knows how important a good title can be.  The right title can make a potential reader eagerly reach for your book, while a bad title acts as a reader repellant.

When I needed a terrific title for my new collection of funny essays about books and library work, I waited with hope for inspiration to strike.

A Bad Title Acts As Reader Repellant- How I Named My Book - Beyond Your Blog Guest Post By Roz Warren

When it didn’t, a friend suggested that I use the title of one of the essays in the collection for the book‘s title. The two best candidates?  “A Nun Walks Into A Library.” And  “The Joys of Library Work.”

In my heart, I knew these weren’t quite good enough, but I ran them by a publicist pal just to be sure.

“You can do better,” she said.

But, alas,  I couldn’t.

Titling has never my strong suit. Writing a publishable essay? I can do that! But coming up with an amazing title for that essay? Not so much. Thank God for my editors. For instance? Once when I handed in a humor piece with a humdrum title about a Florida woman who claimed to have undergone surgery to acquire a third breast, editor Deb Harkins quickly renamed it  “A Tale Of Three Titties.” How perfect is that?

This new collection would be my 13th humor book.  And while I’d managed to come up with a title for my first book (Women’s Glib: A Collection Of Women’s Humor) myself, when I handed in the manuscript for the book that followed,  I still had no idea what to call it. So my publisher held a meeting. “We need a good title for this book. It’s a  collection of cartoons by women about men,” the staff was told.  “Upbeat. Fun. A little snarky, but loving.”

“Men Are From Detroit, Women Are From Paris?” suggested one of the secretaries.


So it sometimes takes a village to name a new book. Thinking back on this, I decided to try something similar.  I have a bunch of clever Facebook friends. Writers. Humorists. Columnists. Librarians. Maybe they could help me out?

I went on Facebook and asked my friends to help name my new book.  Suggestions poured in. Within 24 hours, I had some great titles to choose from:

I went on Facebook and asked my friends to help name my new book @WriterRozWarren Click To Tweet


“That’s more like it,“ enthused my publicist pal when I ran them by her.

Next? I turned it into a contest.  “HumorOutcasts Press is publishing a collection of my funny essays about library work,” I posted. “Which of these proposed titles do you like best?”

RELATED: Is Your Title Vital or Does it Just Sit Idle? (With Editors’ Input!)

I gave them a day to respond. The clear winner?

OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES. Suggested by writer Risa Nye.

I knew that Risa’s title was the perfect choice when I revealed it to my writing group — a dozen middle-aged writers around a table — and they burst out laughing.

OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES, A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR has been out for three months now and is selling steadily. I‘m sure that its fun, zippy title is part of its success. (Thanks, Risa!) Even the editors of the longstanding women’s health book franchise OUR BODIES, OUR SELVES Tweeted that when they first heard the title, they were amused.

I hope to be able to come up with a brilliant title for my next humor book. But if I can’t?  I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

Roz Warren is the author of Our Bodies, Our Shelves, A Collection of Library Humor. This essay first appeared on Women’s Voices For Change.

About the Author

Roz Warren

Roz Warren is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. Her work appears in the New York Times and The Funny Times, as well as inGood Housekeeping, The Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Vegetarian Times, Seventeen Magazine, Broad Street Reviewand on Women’s Voices for Change. Roz’s latest humor book is “Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor“