Titles are everything…

I was just talking about my friend Jim Mcleod. He runs a blog that specializes in horror. He’s been working on it for nearly three years now and he enjoys recieving anywhere from 200 to 1000 hits a day on that blog. Just last month – (January) – he recieved a total of 6783 hits – and he tells me that he was somewhat disappointed in those numbers.

What’s his secret?

Well, for one thing he has been working on it for three years. Consistency is important in this business. If you doubt it, just scroll back and read the blog I wrote on just that subject.

For another, Jim lives in Edinburgh – and everyone knows that people with Edinburgh accents just naturally go further in this world.

Finally, though – I believe it’s the name of his blog.

He calls it “The Ginger Nuts of Horror”.

If you don’t believe me you can take a look at his site to prove it to yourself. http://thegingernutcase.blogspot.com/

I remember when Jim first told me he was calling his blog site “The Ginger Nuts of Horror” I informed that he was a few crackers short of soup. I mean, you would have to be absolutely foolish to name a blog something as numb-nutsian – (pronounced so it rhymes with run-putts-CN) as “The Ginger Nuts of Horror”.

What the hell do I know anyway?

************************

I do know about titles.

I put a lot of thought into the titles of my stories, novellas and novels. I mean – just take a look at the title “Long Horn, Big Shaggy: A Tale of Wild West Terror and Reanimated Buffalo”. It just sort of rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?

Or what about my story “Nailgun Glissando” – a story that was written from the title out?

I stumbled across the word “glissando”. I had to look in a dictionary to find out what it meant. I loved the sound of the word “glissando”. And then, when I added “nailgun” to the front of it I came up with a title that stood up off of the page and grabbed me by my throat and shook me hard until a suitable story fell out.

That story sold to Dark Discoveries magazine. Then it was reprinted in my collection Do-Overs and Detours (Dark Regions Press). And I’ve just found out that it has been selected for an upcoming Best of Dark Discoveries collection – due out sometime further down the road.

All of that mileage, all of that money earned – from that two word title.

Don’t believe that titles are important?

Well, let me tell you about my first ghost story collection.

When I pitched it my working title was A CHOWDER OF GHOSTS.

How numbnutsian can you get?

Thank god my editor, Sandra McIntyre had the foresight to kick me upside the head several times until I saw the light.

In fact, she asked me “How numbnutsian do you have to be to think that naming your ghost story collection after soup is going to get you readers?”

So we batted around about sixteen or twenty different titles before finally settling on one particular title. I wish that I had kept all those titles but they are locked up in an old crashed computer that is undoubtedly been recycled to death some time ago.

We called the collection Haunted Harbours.

As a result this book has sold about 8000 or more copies since its release in 2006. That is huge for a Canadian book and it is FREAKING huge for a regional ghost story collection.

And you know what? The book is still selling. When I sit outside a bookstore for a signing – and you really ought to scroll back to my blog entry on book signing techniques if you want to learn something – I always make sure that I have a supply of Haunted Harbours on hand.

Why?

Because if I’ve got all of my collections on that table and the person has to choose between them and doesn’t know me or my books from a hole in Blackburn, Lancashire – they will most likely choose Haunted Harbours.

Partly because of the cover – which is brilliant – and someday I will really have to post one of the original designs for the cover – which wasn’t brilliant.

And partly because of that name.

It sings.

I’ve heard so many people whisper that title to themselves as they stood there in front of my signing table – while I gestured hypnotically and whispered that all-powerful mantra “buy-my-book-buy-my-book” over and over and over to myself – right before they picked up Haunted Harbours and said “This title sounds cool and absolutely un-numbnutsian.”

Right before they bought it.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

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