A Ramble About Titles (Not a Rant)

I was reading through BookBub and saw a lot of On-The-Nose titles. You know, The Billionaire’s Secret Ranch Baby (not a real title) (I hope). The upside of those is that you know exactly what you’re getting, which is good. I mean, I would probably buy A Hot Hockey Romance Where the Hero Looks Like Wentworth Miller. (I would totally buy that book.). But it also seems like it cheapens the book somehow. Not the content, there are probably many great books behind OTN titles. But just the reductive-ness of it. I mean, they didn’t call The Mummy, Indiana Jones Set in Egypt (was that set in Egypt?) And Loretta Chase did not title Mr. Impossible, My Version of the Mummy with a Brilliant Bluestocking and a Hot Aristocrat (that book, by the way, is fantastic) although I would have bought it for that title. Well, I would have bought it because it had “Loretta Chase” on the cover, but you know what I mean. OTN Title Marketing works.

And I thought about our books. Take Rocky Start. Bob and I both like RED, a movie about retired spies who fight back against the bastard who’s trying to kill them (GREAT movie). And I liked the idea of Outsider Art and a second hand store full of junk. Bob liked the idea of a little hidden town full of lethal spies. And he wanted a 55-year-old hero. I liked all of that, too (and I’m noticing a lot of middle-aged romances lately–is that a new thing?–if so YAY). So what would our OTN title be? Middle-Ages Spies Falling In Love Under Fire Surrounded By Junk. No. For one thing, my girl isn’t a spy (middle-aged, yes). I had a great title early on that Bob nixed: The Spy Who Liked Me. I still love that title. Maybe The Middle-Aged Spy Who Liked Me? No, lacks punch. Bob’s favorite rejected title was Middle Prong. Yeah, I have no idea what it means, either, except that I suspect it’s dirty. But Middle-Aged Middle Prong has a nice ring to it. (No, Bob, we are still not using that.)

The whole title thing is really important. I’ve had titles forced on me that I hated, Manhunting and What the Lady Wants being the top two–one sounds predatory and the other sounds greedy–and I don’t think I’ll ever do an OTN title, but I can understand their appeal to marketing. Other titles quirks (mine): Single words (you need more than one word to create meaning) and obscure meanings (Middle Prong).

So titles. What do you think? What are the best ones you’ve seen? (I still love Expecting Someone Taller.) What titles led you astray? Ever met a title you hated? And how do YOU feel about OTN titles?

92 thoughts on “A Ramble About Titles (Not a Rant)

  1. I love the French title of Milan Kundera’s best known book: l’insoutenable légèreté de l’être. I read the book but don’t remember anything about it, not even if I liked it but I love the title!

    Of your books titles, my favourite is Welcome to Temptation. Bet me comes a close second. Thinking about it, there are probably my favourite books of yours too 😀

    So do I like titles because I like the books. Difficult to tell!

    I do know that I never pay much attention to covers either. I just want the story.

    1. The Kundera book has essentially the same title in the original Czech and in English, although I don’t know Czech at all and my scant French is not enough to judge if the title has some additional attractiveness in that language. (And I’ve never read the novel.)

      I don’t seem to have strong likes or dislikes among Crusie titles.

  2. Off topic, but I had to look up”Middle Prong”: “Middle Prong Wilderness area is 7,900 acres of steep, rugged high-elevation ridges ranging from 3,200 to over 6,400 feet. The area gets its name from the Middle Prong of the Pigeon River finding whose headwaters are located in the area.”

    The OED says this usage is “U.S. Regional” beginning in 1725.

    By 1927, it had, inevitably, reached “U.S. Slang” as a noun, confirming Jenny’s suspicions about it being dirty.

    Following the logic of the 1927 inevitability, as early as 1942, it’s a transitive verb.

  3. Elizabeth Peters, The Last Camel Died at Noon. (In the Amelia Peabody series.)

    Which of course immediately brings to mind Ken Follett’s The Key to Rebecca.

    Both of those titles make me want to read the books.

    1. She had some very cool titles in that series which I believe were translations of hieroglyphs. One day I want to go on a long holiday and re-read all the Amelia Peabodys in order.

  4. OTN titles make me nostalgic for my early days of romance reading and little paperback harlequins. I definitely have specific expectations for such books. I think that is the draw. You get exactly what you are expecting.

    I like the lyrical titles. Mary Stewart uses bits of poetry, I think and they are so evocative. Same for Charles De Lint. I mean, Somewhere to be Flying, Spirits in the Wires, Airs above Ground… Maybe it’s more about the sounds together than any particular meaning. They are almost musical, magical, and a little sad… The Last Unicorn… It’s a whole story there and you get a whiff of what is coming.

    For titles that I don’t care for, Ilona Andrews writes great books. Love the characters, love the humor, but the titles are just… meh. I have read most of their books multiple times, but I couldn’t tell you which Kate Daniels goes to which title. Aside from Magic Binds. That is the one where they get married. Otherwise, magic does something. Sweep something. Couldn’t tell you which is which or what order they are in. Meh.

    1. Same for me with Kristan Higgins. I have NO idea which title goes with which book, and I have read almost all of them.

    2. Oh! That’s a good point about Ilona Andrews titles. I feel the same about Patricia Briggs! Love their books, couldn’t tell you my favourites’ titles…

  5. The cover illustration of the edition of Manhunting that I first read (more, likely listened to), essentially the same cover as on the current Kindle edition, defuzed for me any idea that the title sounded predatory, suggesting something more like a coming deflection of ambitions.

    It’s hard to disentangle impressions of titles from memories of the books, and perhaps from how old I was when I read them. Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky sounded intriguing, and logical once you understood it, but in retrospect it speaks more to the transport technology than the plot or theme. His Double Star is a pun that conveys that the work is sfnal, even though the star in question turns out to an actor playing a double role. Some of Le Guin’s titles taken from Taoism are just mysterious-sounding. The Dispossessed, on the other hand, hints at a thematic relation to Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed (its English title—the original Russian was the rather different Demons [Бесы]), but unlike the Heinlein titles, it does not hint that the novel is sf (perhaps intentionally, since Le Guin had capital-L Literary ambitions and wanted science fiction to be taken seriously by the literati).

  6. When it comes to OTN titles, the one that inevitably springs to mind is “Pregnesia.”

    1. Dick’s titles are the best. “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale “is also a great title. Much better than “Total Recall”.

    2. I read that book because of the movie Blade Runner that was supposed to be based on it – couldn’t find anyone really who was in both, and found the book confusing because I was looking for a story that wasn’t there.

  7. IMHO OTN titles lack imagination & I don’t like them. If I liked the author I would read the book regardless of the title but still…

    I hadn’t thought the way you suggested about Manhunting or What the Lady Wants but I see what you’re saying. I love the rest of your titles. My favorite titles go with my favorite books: Fast Women, WTT & Faking It, Tell Me Lies, Agnes & the Hitman, Maybe This Time.

    Kristen Ashley titles well, I think. Right now I am doing a very, very slow reread of the first book in her “Burg” book series: For You. A serial killer thinks of himself as killing people to avenge wrongs he thinks were done to the protagonist. He is killing for her thus the title For You.

  8. I like OTN titles – although to some extent they’re talking to existing fans – if you pick up a book called “The Greek Tycoon’s Pregnant Wife” it’s because you know and like HPs and baby plots. Someone who doesn’t like those things knows to stay away.

    There’s a post on tor.com by Garth Nix explaining that if the title/cover doesn’t match the genre, then the book has to be hand sold in order to find readers, therefore sales. He recalls that the publishers of “Here be Dragons” were giving out trophies to booksellers who managed to sell copies because it was a history book that sounded (and looked) like a fantasy novel so struggled to find readers.

    I’m currently ambivalent about “When Women Were Dragons” because that’s a seriously cool idea, but the cover looks lit fic which I don’t like so I haven’t made the next step of checking out the blurb. If the title is “A Week in the Snow” then that’s what I want. A title like “Quiet Walks the Tiger” is more ambiguous but intriguing enough to make me pick it up because I like both actual and metaphorical tigers. My personal pet peeve is titles (and covers) that suggest Christmas and then the book barely has any Christmas themes.

    One of my recent favorites is “Never a Duke” because it manages both to cash in on the romance craze for dukes at the same time as being quite upfront that the MMC is untitled.

    1. I recently read about When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

      Goodreads says: “A rollicking feminist tale set in 1950s America where thousands of women have spontaneously transformed into dragons, exploding notions of a woman’s place in the world and expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are.”

      They give the genre as ‘fantasy feminist. Sounds intriguing.

      1. I tried it, but it was one of those “feminist” books that’s all about men, and nothing about the transformative experiences of the women. Bleagh.

        Maybe it got better, but I have a rule that if I make it to 35% and I don’t like it, I stop.

        Learning to DNF has made my reading so much more enjoyable!

    2. Any duke in the title is a pass for me. There are way too many dukes in Regency land.

      The only dukes I like are Heyer’s Sale and Stella Riley’s Rockliffe.

      1. I hope I can include one link without going to moderation jail. Evidently there were only 27 dukes in Regency England. Even considering the death rate in childbirth and such, I would not imagine that more than two or three of those dukes were unmarried and of an age young enough to interest romance readers. (And how many romance dukes are even widowers?) My suspension of disbelief has hit overload and I generally avoid any title with the word Duke in it.

        https://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/accumulation-or-the-problem-with-too-many-dukes/#:~:text=Apparently%20in%20Regency%20England%20there,were%20a%20lot%20more%20common).

        1. Romance is such an escapist genre, and it seems for every reader who is over dukes, there are many, many more still clamoring for them. The last book in my Vic Rom series features a duke as the hero and in the title, and it is hands down the book that has sold the most copies. If I were still writing in the genre, I’d definitely write about a few more dukes!

        2. I once DNFed a book about the daughter of a rich marquis who somehow had no suitors. The chances of that were … nil.

  9. When I see a severely OTN title, I assume that it’s a 160-page Harlequin that I would read in about 60 minutes, and since I generally don’t read those anyway (because of the tropes involved), the title has no effect on my purchasing. If something about a description rings for me, I can deal with a bad title. That said, I have narrowed my eyes at historical romances with titles that are punny riffs on pop music lyrics and have declined to even read the book descriptions because I assume, perhaps inaccurately, that the books will be rife with other punnery and anachronisms. But that’s mostly me not responding to what passes for Romantic Comedy.

    Some titles, like ‘Boyfriend Material,’ are OTN without being a detailed list of tropes. The book is very much about what ‘boyfriend material’ might be, and whether the MCs fit the description in their own eyes (never mind their friends or families or employers), and the heavily weighted social assumptions surrounding the description, and the extent to which adult humans can find themselves tailoring their behavior in order to fit the description even when the tailored behavior is inimical to their mental health and thus to the success of any relationship.

    I think I like a title that, as briefly as possible, tells me something about the book that I will actually find in the book. A reference to a character, an event, a plot point, a theme. Dominic Lim’s ‘All The Right Notes’ is about a musician. My book ‘Face The Music’ is about dancers. It’s taken from the song lyric ‘let’s face the music and dance,’ so I’d call it OTN, though I don’t expect every reader to get the reference. 🙂

    My titles often land for me during the development process, i.e. before I start really writing, and sometimes the idea for a title serves as my writing prompt when I have little else to work with. Like my novella ‘Screw Your Courage.’ I wanted to use that phrase in the context of a M/M romance, so I needed a real challenge for one of the MCs, which led to a story about private-school teachers risking their jobs to push back against gender-based discrimination. And the MC is a Shakespeare geek, so.

    1. I don’t think Boyfriend Material is OTN.

      My Billionaire Boyfriend and His Commitment Issues is OTN.

      A title should reflect the book’s themes, ideas, content, it just maybe shouldn’t be a synopsis.

    2. I think maybe the purpose of OTN titles isn’t so much a plot synopsis as trope short-hand. I read a fair number of category romances with those very OTN titles and the plots can very widely, but the titles help discoverability as lots of readers are looking for particular tropes.

      The only short-hand I can think of that indicates middle-aged is “silver-haired” or “silver fox”. Maybe there haven’t been enough books with older MCs to codify the naming conventions.

    3. A friend of mine and I used to make fun of those Harlequin titles all the time and at one point she wrote some kind of joke novel with one of those titles. I don’t remember much about it, but it was pretty much word salad throwing in princesses, puppies, babies, cowboys, what have you.

      1. It just struck me that A Princess of Mars (1912), the first John Carter novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, has princesses, puppies (or baby calots, the Martian equivalent), babies (of Tharks, hatched from eggs), cowboys, horses, aristocratic ex-Confederate officers, noble savages (stand-ins for Highlanders?), and plenty of what have you. A lot of these tropes have evidently been around for a while!

  10. Favorite titles — Spindle’s End by Robyn McKinley. It’s a sleeping beauty retelling that’s gorgeous. I bought a collection of essays for the title once, “I was told there’d be cake” and it was a fun essay collection, but I can’t actually remember anything besides the title now. I still love “Welcome to Temptation” as a title.

    I’m currently trying to come up with a better title for my vaguely witchy contemporary romance before I start querying agents. My working title was just “Mike and Zelda” which *I* love but it’s been pointed out to me that it’s not the most marketable/ SEO title.

    Currently going back and forth between “Mike and Zelda’s Starlight Breakfast” and “Saints and Sinners and Tarot Card Readers”.

    Making up titles is the worst.

    1. Actually, I like “vaguely witchy contemporary romance” as a title.
      I think it ought to be a category in Amazon. I have one of those too. At the moment it’s called the witches garden.

    1. I really dislike the ones with the subtitles, like “Desperate: a charming, witchy, paranormal, age-gap rom-com with a surprising twist”. Apparently it gets found in searches more easily, but it’s still terrible.

      That said, I like it when the title says something about a book. Like “How to be a Normal Person” which is a m/m asexual rom-com with neurodiverse characters (has some pacing problems, but probably the funniest book I’ve ever read). Or, yeah, “Faking It” which is about forgery and con artists and bad sex.

      Another one whose book titles don’t usually mean anything is Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books, many of which have interchangeable titles. I haven’t read many of her angel books, but I couldn’t tell you which ones I read, either.

      And as an indie author, I have to come up with my own titles, usually with help from my writing group, thank goodness.

      That shit is hard.

      1. I love “How to be a Normal Person”! My favorite TJ Klune I think. Also liked the sequel, “How to be a Movie Star” (different couple).

  11. I like the Crusie titles. I like the Bujold titles. I like most Honorverse titles – every other one was a play on Honor Harrington’s name: The Honor of the Queen, War of Honor, Mission of Honor, Honor Among Enemies, Field of Dishonor.

    I am no judge of my own titles: Chocolate RULES!, Chocolate Kisses, Chocolate Sighs (Sighs Matter), Chocolate Sunday, Chocolate Knights and Chocolate Daze, Chocolate Sauce, (the Chocolate Morsels series.) First Impressions (a PERN FanFic of sorts.) Set Here a Spell (a fantasy for the Virago Blue/Chicks in Chainmail challenge). Three stories with “Smokin’ Hot” in the title. Not last, but last mention – Going Down, set in an alternate universe where the south won the war of northern aggression. An almost-a-romance where the skipper of a Confederate nuclear sub woos and wins two co-wives. did I mention that the victorious CSA is a polygamous country?

    Bob laughed. “Yes, I do. Look, I’ve seen the stats from the 2000 Census. Average family, 2.4 husbands, 3.1 wives, 7.7 kids, a kennel of dogs and a passel of cats. I know I’m an anomaly, not even one spouse. That’s pressure, too. But I have hopes.”

    I’m fond of puns in titles.

    Patrick M mentioned Heinlein. Starship Troopers contains starship troopers, the mobile infantry. Have Spacesuit Will Travel has a spacesuit, and Kip ends up travelling to the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. Citizen of the Galaxy? Well, he is, pretty much. Thorby Baslim-Krausa Rudbeck – slave, space trader, billionaire executive, spy.

    1. Have spacesuit will travel was a favourite Heinlein in my youth. I read in French in those days but I woukd always check the original title which was given on the second page and I remember loving that one.

  12. A number of my favorite titles are listed above. I do like “A River Runs Through It” as a title but maybe that’s because I love the book or maybe it’s because a river runs through the book.

    There are some OTN titles that leave you no idea what you are really getting. The Time Traveller’s Wife comes to mind.

    1. Then it’s not on the nose.
      The Time Traveler’s Runaway Billionaire Wife and Secret Baby is OTN.
      The Time Traveler’s Wife is just evocative, it doesn’t tell you the plot.

    2. I think its OTN if you’re a science-fiction reader. I think its misleading if you’re a romance reader – which is why cover also helps, because the OG cover clearly steers the reader away from romantic expectations, whereas I can see the film tie-in cover potentially catching people who expect an HEA.

  13. I don’t care for detailed OTN titles, but I do like the title to have some kind of relevance to the book. I’m reading a series right now; the books are good, but the titles stink. One is called Sassy Witch. Huh? The protagonist is a witch, and I guess she’s sassy/snarky, but this is like the ninth book in the series. We already KNOW she’s sassy and a witch. The title means absolutely nothing with regards to what the book is about. I find it annoying, and it makes the individual books all blur together.

  14. I came across a reference yesterday to Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido, which pulled me in when I read it years ago. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet also works for me, as does Katie Fforde’s Living Dangerously (featuring a protagonist venturing out of her comfort zone).

    There are so many meaningless and unmemorable titles out there – but then, so many stories are published now, it’s a challenge to come up with something new that works. I should think on-the-nose titles for cliched stories would end up having to be numbered (The Fake Boyfriend 237, etc).

    1. I love Brother of the More Famous Jack both as a title and a novel. It dovetails nicely with both the sense of humor in the book and the theme of family dynamics and preset expectations. And as a fifth child who was overawed by her more successful siblings, I felt as though the book was written for me.

  15. My favorite title will always be “Welcome to Temptation”. It works on every level and could refer to a vast range of topics. After all, isn’t life itself just crammed packed with temptations?

  16. I have not read any of these books — but they are on my TBR list because I am intrigued by the titles:

    Jimi Hendrix Turns 80
    Ms Demeanor
    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
    Soon I Will Be Invincible
    Saving Fish from Drowning
    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  17. OTN works for me because of the overwhelming amount of content available. I also took a few courses on self-publishing (Mark Dawson’s The Self-Publishing Formula and Theodora Taylor’s Universal Fantasy course), and both explained the benefits. The market is crowded and lots of shoppers are now trained to use the title as their mini-summary or sneak peek. In the past, I would have hated this, but it actually makes it a bit easier to sift through the mess.

  18. I prefer titles with a little mystery to them, but they still have to relate to the story somehow. I read about an author that preferred their titles to be a snippet of dialogue from the story, which I thought was brilliant and have tried to follow. Jenny, was that you? I feel like that was you for some reason.

    And yes, middle-age romance is DEFINITELY a thing now! There is a BISAC section for it called Romance/Later in Life, but you’ll also find it called seasoned, gen X romance, mature age romance, etc.

    1. I read some romance, but probably not enough to detect trends in the genre. I *have* noticed that there are, and have been for a few decades, a lot of mystery stories with middle-aged female crimesolvers that have a romance element. (Even earlier, of course, of course, were middle-aged and older female crimesolvers with no romance for them, although sometimes for younger characters in the same novel.) In science fiction, for a while circa the 1990s there was a sort of male wish-fulfillment trend of throwing in a romance element between a middle-aged man and a much younger woman. Of course, Laurie King put that kind of young woman age disparity into the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes stories for possibly female wish-fulfillment.

      1. I have no stats to back me up, but my belief is cozy mysteries are 99% middle-aged or older female crimesolvers. 🙂 But LB Dunbar and Freya Barker have made excellent careers with strictly romances featuring heroines over 40, and there are plenty more who focus on that age group (including little old me).

        I like the term Generation X romance because that’s the target. Those of us who grew up reading Harlequins who still want to read about love and sex but need it to relate to our lives as they are now…divorce, widowhood, grandchildren, aging parents, careers, retirement, etc.

  19. Some of my old favorites have pretty good OTN titles. The Mrs. Pollifax books are mostly good for that. The Cat Who… books give a good hint to the story. Some of Nora Roberts’ books in my favorite series are OTN: the Born In series and the Weddings series. I liked Manhunting. It evokes something desperate, but focused, in that customary mating dance. What the Lady Wants is also the theme of that book, but OTN would be What the lady Wants and Must Be Given. Some of Heyer’s books are good at that: The Masqueraders, for instance, and some are really bad, being a single word that is a woman’s name. I’m rambling.

  20. I like titles that stand out and imply a bit of humor on the part of the author even though there is nothing funny in the books. Examples are Adrian McKinty’s “Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly”; or Kate Atkinson’s “Started Early Took My Dog”. Titles like that guarantee that I will read the description.

    On the other hand I hate OTN titles. In fact I stay away from books with OTN titles even if I like the promised trope. I find them embarrassing and certainly wouldn’t want them on a bookshelf — even though everyone knows that I read romance novels and have them on my bookshelves. Maybe these titles would reveal a bit too much about the reader who bought them? In any case I think they do a disservice to the authors because there is surely some good writing in there.

    I find the titles on sports romances to be pretty good: not really OTN but you get an idea of the sport involved and maybe even of the plot. Titles like “Strike Zone” and “Squeeze Play”, etc. You know you’re getting a the story that takes place in the world of professional sports.

    Finally, I stay away from any book with the word “Duke” in the title. It seems historical romance has to have a duke as MC — the historian in me knows there weren’t that many dukes to go around…

    1. “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
      “A Biography of Patty Duke”
      “The Duke Who Loved Me: Reminiscences by the wives of Marion Morrison AKA John Wayne”

  21. PLEASE tell me: What’s the actual title of the Loretta Chase for which the OTN title would have been, “Mr. Impossible, My Version of the Mummy with a Brilliant Bluestocking and a Hot Aristocrat.” I’m now intrigued and want to read it.

        1. It’s part of her Carsington series and I heartily endorse all four books in it. And the fifth which is about the two kids in the third when they are grown up.
          But it doesn’t matter what order you read it in.

    1. It’s just ‘Mr Impossible’ – I highly recommend it. I haven’t seen The Mummy, so for me it had echoes of Middlemarch – the intelligent young woman in service to her much older, self-important scholar husband. Though in Loretta’s story she’s escaped him. I read recently (on her blog?) that she’s used classics as springboards, but writes her heroines to escape the straitjacket of C19 convention.

      1. And thank you, Jane, as well. I appreciated your comments on the story. The fact that both of you recommend it is reinforcement that it’s worth some of my (precious and limited) reading time.
        One of the best things about this blog is that it’s led me to many good books I probably wouldn’t have found on my own.

  22. I quite like OTN titles. Also subtitles that say something like “unputdownable” or “thrilling” or “deeply emotional”.

    Titles are meant to signal to the reader if this book is for them. I read those titles and instantly know that this book is not for me.

    I hope authors keep using them.

  23. I won’t read OTN titles. I brush past them in the email BookBub sends me every day. I’m pretty sure the billionaires secret baby is a real title.
    A fun exercise might be to go to chatBot and put in some details and see what kind of title it comes up with. Thanks for the details on that Loretta Chase. I don’t read her but I want to read that one.

    1. Yes, it is.

      Billionaire’s Secret Baby

      The plan was to talk some sense into my ex’s big brother… not have the billionaire heir’s baby.

      I should have left. Instead… I got in my birthday suit, wearing nothing but his favorite red lipstick. I know… I was asking for trouble.

      With no one else around and our emotions at an all-time high, there was no hiding from what we both always wanted.

      Until it was over, and my high school crush… crushed my heart.

      I told myself It never happened. It was late in the woods, and no one heard me screaming his name.

      I moved far away from our small town and started a new life.

      When that started falling apart, I needed to return home.

      The moment I arrived, there he was… in my newly inherited coffee shop. His deep green eyes pierced through me and drew me close to him as if we had never parted.

      It turns out… he’s still secretly crazy about me. But I have a secret of my own that will change his life forever and may tear his family apart.

      But… I can’t keep running. It’s time to face the music.

      1. Awpk! There are at least 13 titles in Kindle that are Billionare’s Secret Baby, or that plus a/the, and several with … Babies plural. Even one Billionaire Cowboy’s Secret Baby. Nearly all with beefcake covers. Also, the author of the one that Gary J linked to seems to specialize in OTN titles. Billionaires are clearly way more popular than even dukes.

  24. As I said back in the Sept 1 blog I would happily read “Innocent Sheik meets the Ruthless Gold Digger”.

    I think it’s the tropes that bother me not the titles.

    1. As a former boarding school teacher who had a very innocent Saudi prince in her class, I can well imagine such an encounter. By the way, there are gazillions of princes in Saudi
      Arabia.

  25. I saw someone reading a book on the train once, called ‘Around the World in a Bad Mood’. Still one of my favourite titles.

    I also like titles with double meanings, like the Dick Francis books. And some of Christopher Brookmyre’s crime novels have great titles like ‘A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away’ and ‘All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye’.

    1. Those are the Jack Parlabane books by Christopher Brookmyre. I bought the first one based on the title alone, Quite Ugly One Morning. They’re darkly hilarious.

  26. Must Love Dogs: I didn’t read it, but this title totally appeals to me!

    I’m okay OTN as a quick screen. For example, I skip the billionaire ones because I’d rather read about a strong woman than some rich dude who is, in real like, probably a psychopath.

  27. ‘They’ used to say that the word ‘sex’ in a book title would instantly triple its sales, or something nutso like that.
    The show Sex and the City might not have been as instant a hit if it was called Four Spinsters in the Big Apple.
    Perhaps potential readers are hoping any book with sex in the name has an OTN title!

    1. But those four spinsters had such fabulous clothes… I never watched the show, but I am a sucker for costume design. Personally, I think that is as big a draw as the plot…

  28. Any title or description that includes the word ‘claimed’ is an instant reject for me.

    I’m not interested in woman-as-coat. At all.

    🤢

  29. I pulled a book My Butt is Christmassy, a kid decorated his butt. Kid’s books have all the fun. There’s a special place in my soul for the ones with fart and poop in the title.

  30. I don’t read books with OTN titles. It’s like they’re trying too hard to sell the book because the book isn’t that good.

    I’ve read a lot of your books, but “Welcome to Temptation” is a favorite. Now that is a great title. There is obviously a double meaning, but it’s not until you get well into the book that it’s clear how apt that title is.

    I like titles that give a feel for the book without broadcasting the plot.

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