What is it with publishers and book titles these days? They seem to have run out of creative steam or else are frightened to do anything other than follow the crowd. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you obviously haven’t perused the crime and thriller section on Amazon recently. Title after title have the same basic theme: sister, wife, friend, husband, daughter. As I write there are four books with wife in the title in the top forty. If it’s not the mention of a relative or such then there’s a preponderance of I, you, she. Then there’s the ridiculous way a subtitle is added. Usually something like “the most gripping, addictive thriller with an absolutely amazingly brilliant twist that you won’t see coming” (hint, you won’t see it coming because it is either totally implausible or the writer has played a trick which it is impossible to guess).
Confession: my latest book The Boneyard even has one of these silly subtitles, despite the fact that I asked my publisher to put “A DI Charlotte Savage novel” since this was used on the previous five books.
What’s going on?
I like to think these titles are not the first suggestions provided by authors and are the result of marketing winning over creativity. There’s a follow-the-herd mentality and editors are reluctant to stray too far from the path. Far safer to just stick to the same-old, same-old then if the book doesn’t sell they won’t get the blame for being original. Still, I think we are approaching saturation point (the silly title threshold) and there will be a backlash. I already filter out these titles as I browse through, knowing they’re unlikely to provide me with an original story.
As an illustration, my favourite book in the top 100 on Amazon at the moment is The Dry by Jane Harper. No wife, husband, you or I to be seen, just an intriguing title for a great novel (although the publisher has added “The Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year 2017” as the subtitle).
With that said, I am pleased to announce the title of my next book will be: My Brother’s Wife’s Daughter’s Sister’s Father’s Brother: A shockingly tautological thriller with a twist which will leave you breathless (as you run round in circles).