Nathan Bransford, Author

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Ultimate Book Title Contest

My love of query trends is well-documented, and people are often asking me what I see a lot of (whether they want to avoid or capitalize on trends depends on the person). One thing I'm prepared to declare official: the absolute most common titles include the words GATHERING and RISING. I always joke about how the ultimate title is THE SISTERHOOD OF THE CLUB CODE, but I think we're going to have to change that to THE GATHERING OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE CLUB CODE RISING.

Anyway, here's an early You Tell Me since we're going to be celebrating America's birthday tomorrow (stay awesome, USA!): You Tell Me a million dollar book title, something that will send people scurrying to the bookstores. And heck, let's just go ahead and make it a contest. It doesn't have to be a parody like THE GATHERING OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE CLUB CODE RISING, it could be something more straightforward like THE HOMEBOY PHONE (I'd buy that in a second) or THE BLACK SWAN (that one is taken, but is extremely awesome).

The winner (chosen at my sole and completely irrational discretion) will get their own query critique, and, of course, the bragging rights that come with winning a contest on a random blog.

Let the games begin!


Brian said...

If I Did It (You Would All Be Dead Now) by Tom Marvolo Riddle

leatherdykeuk said...

Screwing the Bank

Anonymous said...

Can I submit more than one?

Chanterelle Billow Crest (ennui of a chef involved in the Manhattan project)
The Eighth Day of the Week (a self help book about time management)
Rumors of the Iron Eagle (memoirs of a US/USSR double agent)
The Invisible Piñata (a romance between a US border guard and an illegal alien)
Toll on the Wire Rode (political satire about internet censorship)

AWP :)

Christopher M. Park said...

Hmm, a million dollar idea... based on two other million dollar ideas... how about HARRY POTTER'S SECRET?

John Levitt said...

"How To Tell If They're Secretly Gay."

Alternate title:

"How To Tell If You're Secretly Gay."

Reid said...

Here's a few...

"The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape"

"The Final 48, or The Five People I'm Going To Meet In Hell"

"How To Kill A Consultant"

Jillian said...

Silent Moon

Peace Undisturbed

Capturing Yesterday

The Pickle Jar

A Crack In the Pavement

brian_ohio said...

"Clue Number 32 - Cold Vomit"

"Nancy Drew Her Semi-Automatic"

"Balloon Smugglers"

"A Smoked Cheese Pig and a Whole Lot of Nothing"

"A Pair of Dice in Paradise"

millhousethecat said...

She Uses a Machete to Cut Through Red Tape

Borrowing from the great band, Cake.

dmh said...

Purgatory: It's Okay

Jack Be Nimble

After I Killed My Sister, I Ate A Small Piece of Cherry Chip Cake

Eliza said...

I've just developed a crush on Brian.

Determinist said...

Just give people what they want:

"Make Millions by Sitting on Your Ass"


"Get Rich by Playing Video Games"

Something like that. ;-)

Scott said...

Alien Hookers of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And one I'm actually playing around with:
Happy Cheerful Goth Kids: The Musical

Conduit said...

I briefly considered changing the title of my most recently completed novel to (drumroll, please) ...

Graveyard Sunday

...because I thought it sounded kind of cool, but it doesn't actually suit the book.

Related to The Black Swan, a friend of mine often berates me for an insightful observation I once made on the banks of a river...

Swans are Bastards

It's just that me and swans don't see eye-to-eye. I intend to write a book exposing their evil one day.

Katie Alender said...

"Spice: A Tale of Two Spouses"

Okay, I don't know if it's a million dollars' worth of title. How about:

"The Men of Greater Influence"

Jordyn said...

Standing Still In Time
Learning to Break Free
The Secret to Nothing
The Pilot's Daughter
Waiting for the Moon to Rise
Doodles on Napkins
Yesterday and Forever

joycemocha said...

Geesh, I'm bad at titles....

How about:
"A Surfeit of Tap Dancing Ski Divas"
(a mystery, of course!)

"Evil Exposures"
(could be mystery, could be sf, could be horror)

"To Dream in Multidimensional Colors"
(now that *has* to be a Lovecraftian pastiche!)

McKoala said...

The Year of Sweaty Glands

Dave said...

My Six Ex-Wives

Of course it's a fantasy.
My best real titles (not entries)
- the football movie: Black Sunday
- teen slasher movie: Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowlerama
- war: War of the Rats
- humor: The Tail of the Giant Rat of Sumatra; a Hemlock Stones mystery.

McKoala said...

Threading the Mallet

Mel said...

Life Sucks, Then You Die: A Love Story

McKoala said...

The Year of Saving Bertram from the Secret Code of the Rising and the Gathering

Therese Walsh said...

Here are 5:

Smudge: A Ghost Story

Desolation Row

The Death of God


and one from my son:
Mediterranean Peanuts from the Black Lagoon

Jordyn said...

I can't edit my last comment/entry. I wanted to change the titles, but whatever. I'll just put some here. I probably have too many. Oh well.

Behind Bars: The Paris Hilton Story
(oh no, that one probably IS going to become a book. gag me.)

Bernita said...

The Moon Is Down( I know, I know - already taken.)
Nutcracker (has great possibilities.)

Anonymous said...

Snow Silent Tomb

by Colleen Rowan Kosinski

Anonymous said...

Also: The Soul Jar

Both of titles are possibilities for a fictional book I am writing about people in comas.

Colleen Rowan Kosinski

Liz said...

Parity Vacant

I saw this spray painted on an overpass decades ago and it stuck with me. Always thought it would be a great book title.

Anonymous said...

When I Said 'I Do' (by Hillary Clinton)

Anonymous said...

Your Guide to Getting Laid---
when you want, how you want, and by whom you want

tirra lirra said...

10 Ways to Skip Taxes and Avoid the Slammer

astairesteps said...

The Perfect Book for People Who Aren't

subtitle: aren't.

Phil Mickelson said...

Why I Hate Tiger Woods

Anonymous said...

The Bed We Made...Ill-Fated Decisions of Our Gvernment and the Price You'll Have to Pay

Fred said...

She Never Has to Know

Anonymous said...

The Gorgon Memoirs
The Gospel According to Cavendish
Oy, "M" Theory!
The Moonshiner's Sonata

Crystal Jordan said...

Contests, woot! I can't resist!

Song Sworn

Ennui: French For Life Sucks And Then You Die

Oh, Hex!

The Accidental King-maker

*Parody Entry*

Rising Sisterhood: A Series of Unfortunate Club Gatherings About The Code of The Magical Pants

takoda said...

This is great! I wish I logged on earlier.
My entries are:

1) The Dream Thief
2) Feathers, Moons, and a Wish for Huyana
3) Tick Tock
4) Random Stings
5) Extraction

How many can we do? And when is this contest over?


Anonymous said...

OOps, Dream Thief is already a book. Sorry---

Anonymous said...

Tick Tock is also a title--sorry again. But Yay for me, because I love Dean Koontz and just ordered it off Amazon.

I'll stop now. Good luck to everyone!


astairesteps said...

If You Say Nothing's Wrong, I'll Believe You

(Great gift for your bride-to-be)

Have an agent; just entering for fun said...

How To Make Your Literary Agent A Million Bucks (And Make Yourself A Few Dollars In The Process)

The Death Wish of Mickey O'Shannon

Not In My Backyard - A Self-Help Guide To Keeping Your Yard Squirrel-Free

Lorelei said...

Here's one I've used:

The Evening and the Night

earl scott said...

How to Live Like Donald Trump Without Looking Like Him

leighla said...

Back Fat and Unwaxed Lips

Topaz said...

Endless Vicissitudes: A Handbook to Your Teenager

Archimedes' Secret

takoda said...

Okay, last one!

"An Inconvenient Sleuth"


jjdebenedictis said...

1) Crapweasels

2) A Vivacious Man

3) Nirvana Lemmings

4) The Flying Pig Boutique

5) Ow

6) Of Inkwell Eyes and Gothic Mandibles

7) Jukebox of Humiliations

8) The Peanut Butter and Jelly Demon


would-be-writer said...

Under the Bleachers
by Seymore Butz

Heidi the Hick said...

(Okay, try #3. Darn kids keep using my computer)

Crushed By The Weight Of A Hundred Thousand Words

(because I'm really feeling that way)

or The Hundred Thousand Word Conspiracy Code

Anonymous said...

Sick with the Sun

Tsana said...

Mostly Human

anne said...

The Secret Bride

Jane said...

Problems with a Dead Mother

The Cat in the Pyramid

The Secret Life of Queen Hatshepsut's Cat

Luc2 said...

"Popcorn persecution"

Anonymous said...

'And Finally ...' by God

'My Father, the Alien' by Bill Gates.

'How To Exorcise Evil Hamsters'

don killuminati said...

seeking the unseekable
a memoir

reality said...

This is for my MS under revision: a novel based on the official red light area in Pakistan:

Daughters of Joy and Sorrow

Lighter Side of Black

Deceptive Music

Behind the Open Door.

Anonymous said...



Annamae Neptune said...

The Slackers Guide to Changing the World

Cynical Writer said...

Don't Read This Book

Madeleine said...


Laurel said...

The Secret Book of Secrets
What Nobody Wants You to Know
Your Mother Never Told You
The Book of Useful Lies
How to Get Away With Everything

Josephine Damian said...

The Live Forever Diet (or has that already been used?)

Chumplet said...


The story of four women who regularly meet in the lunch room, torturing their colleagues with the smell of fresh toast while they discuss their lives, their loves and their hates.

Anonymous said...

It's already been used (created) by Mary Oliver for a poem but with an appropriate quotation, it would be a cool book title: LINGERING IN HAPPINESS. ("and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years, will feel themselves being touched")


Laura Kramarsky said...

1) Cell Phones for Drug Dealers: (How to Stay Ahead of the Law series, Volume 1)

2) Here's Blood In Your Eye (An Ocular Mystery)

3) Kaleido-scope: The Changing Role of Medicine in America

4) Bloody, Burning Monsters: A Pop-Up Book for Psychopathic Children

Twill said...

No, Paris Hilton's book would be called Surrounded by Bars for the double value.

I *so* want to see Happy Cheerful Goth Kids the musical.

Writers' Support and Inspiration said...

"Losing Weight on Five Pounds of Chocolate a Day"

Michelle Moran said...

Laurel... that's great! I'm really liking The Book of Useful Lies!

sylvia said...

"A Perfect Query"

Writers would queue up to get a copy! It's a sure winner. ;)

Happy 4th!

Ithaca said...

The Dead Hand Pill

Anonymous said...

I can't take complete credit for this title (in fact, I'm not sure I want to take any credit at all!) because it was dreamed up by a small group of publishers' reps at a rather boozy soiree a number of years ago. Not that publishers' reps are in the habit of drinking to excess, mind you, or even that they might make fun of their publishers' titles, but we all thought that "The Joy of Sex Scratch-and-Sniff Pop-up Book" had a ring to it that would also open the door to a great series.

Jacey said...

Cherry Popsicles and Jello Shots

Anonymous said...

Da Vinci and the Deathly Hallows

Stephen Parrish said...

How to Finish a Thought: For People Who

Lestockng said...

My title, "Now."

LizR said...

You guys are cracking me up. Okay, here are mine:

“Worm in the Rain”

“Clear as Night”

“Herding Cats”

and what the heck,
“Finders Keepers” (my current YA WIP about a young teenage boy who is taken from his family when the father he never met gains custody of him)

On the lighter side:


“Breathing the Life Back into Your Marriage: The Theory and Practice of Genital Resuscitation”

“A Monkey Could Do It: The Secret to Following Trends and Writing Marketable Books”

“OMG LMAO WTF BBQ – Understanding Your Preteen in the Age of the Internet”

Happy 4th!


Lizr said...

Oh, and if we're only allowed to submit one, just use the top one on my list.


jah said...

Barbie's Conundrum

Annamae Neptune said...

1) The Wolf Who Cried Boy
2) Coffin City
3) Survival of the Fittest Slave
4) Recycle My Body: True Stories of Plastic Women
5) Waisted: Addicted to Thin

Eric said...

The Life and Death of Black Steve, King of the Pirates.

Anonymous said...

Ack! We're not border guards! We are border patrol officers or customs and border protection officers!! I am not a rent-a-cop!!

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm Okay But Your Mommy's Dead: The true story of a serial killer

Wherever You Aren't, That's Where I'll Be: A Novel (Women's fic, naturally)

She Wore Chaps On Wall Street (The real story of insider trading and how it operates.)

Over My Undead Body (the adventures of a soon-to-be vampire seeking revenge on the one who infected her)

Some of these are so bad I love 'em. Not sure about mine, though.

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh, I had to mention my favorite real title (and it's a movie): CANNIBAL, THE MUSICAL. Hi-larious.

McKoala said...

I love all these.

How about: Harry Potter 8: Harry Potter and the Rising Dark

Really, anything with Harry Potter 8 in front of it would fly out of stores, so I didn't think that hard about the actual title.

Bethany said...

1.) Till Court Do Us Part
2.) The Groovy Tune of Marty Moon
3.) The Trashcan Thief
4.) The Ink Disciples
5.) Pushing the Big Red Button

Anonymous said...

The Truth behind Colonic Irrigation

Anonymous said...

Winnar: "A Smoked Cheese Pig and a Whole Lot of Nothing"

Laughed a whole bunch after reading this.

Anonymous said...

Memoirs Of A One-legged Man In An Ass Kicking Contest

Anonymous said...

I'm Going To Hell, Will you Save my Place In Line?


Hell: I'll Save You a Seat By the Fire

JDuncan said...

The Book of Snark: Killer Yapp Reads the Snarkives.

(This would likely sell a few hundred at least)

Dunderhead and McGoon: How Sillyputty Saved the World

Ok, may not sell a million, but sillyputty rules.


Tom Burchfield said...

Anonymous: The Truth Behind Colonic Irrigation." Is that by Colin Lavage?

Anyway, my nominoses:

"Well, Just Turn Up the Air Conditioning Then! A Skeptic's Guide to Global Warming."

"If I Were President," by George W. Bush.

"Undisclosed Locations: A Travel Guide," by Dick Cheney.

"My Favorite LSD Trips and Sexual Misadventures," by Pat Robertson.

And (drumroll) the actual title of my next novel: "Damnation Creek."

Mig said...

Why do the Redneck Girls Hate Me?

original bran fan said...

Time Management for Agents: How to Respond to Every Query in Two Hours or Less

by Nathan Bransford

jamie said...

Word Math for Dummies

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

The Daughter's Daughter, Daugherty Daughter's Mother's Daughter's Daughter.

jamie said...

The above by Chris Daughtry

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Metaphysically Clairvoyant Emotions on Man's Constant Turmoil in Seeking to Free Himself from the Inhibitions that Stifle a Creative Philosophy (or Best Strategies for Watching the Scrambled Porn Channel)

Bernita said...

PORN: A graphic novel.

And, judging from the number of hits my blog gets because of an incautious post title: Medieval Porn - would be very popular.

joycemocha said...

New one--nonfiction:

There is No Magic Wand: An Insider's Guide to Special Education from a Parent and Professional Perspective
(disclaimer--actual project I'm toying with--not only am I a sped professional but I'm a sped parent)

jah said...

Racer X's Guide to Keeping the Mystery in your Marriage

Ten Ways to Drive Your Spouse Crazy (into Love with You!)

The Presidential Guide to Inventive Language Usage, Useless Geography, and the Internets
(by The Decider who Decides)

jason evans said...

Since this post made me think of writers as a school of fish flashing sideways at a splash in their midst, my title is:

Fish School Dissected

Anonymous said...

Since you said “enter often”...

The Lion, the Witch, and the Espresso Stand in Oz (a hybrid of Narnia and Wizard of Oz worlds)
Lord of the Ringworms (a pet care guide)
Tome of the Wii and iPhone (for video and techno geeks)
The United Federation of Tribble (for Trekies)
Harry Potter and the Drooping Dumbcane (a botany encyclopedia)


Cheryl said...

The Barmecidal Philanthropist

Marti said...

For search engine optimization I'd go with:

The Secret Da Vinci Kite Potter

takoda said...

I have two more spoofs:

The Devil Wears Nada

The Headless Stupid (sorry to make fun of one of Zilpha's books--I loved this one!)

Everything I Learned in First Grade: sequel to Everything I Learned in Kindergarden

Jude said...

You're Starting To Grow On Me

takoda said...

LOL!!! Medieval Porn and The Decider! Cracked me up!!!!

Ben said...

The Secrets of the Conspiracy Sisters kind of rolls off the tongue.

My self-help suggestion:Blame is not a Game: How to Free Yourself of All Responsibility in your Life

Robert Henshaw said...

"Healing Chiron"

If you're not familiar with Greek mythology, you won't get the sheer smartness of it.

Anonymous said...

"How to Achieve World Peace: A Handbook for the Anarchist"

"The History of Christianity: A Guidebook for the AntiChrist."

"Roadkill. Or... How to save money while grocery shopping."

"Why do you hate me? The tender confessions of Oscar the Grouch."

"Richard Simmon's Guide to Being Manly."

"How to get a record contract." by William Hung.

-- craig.

takoda said...

Based on some of your reading selections:

The Baltimore Crisis

The Baltimorean

The Stars Above Baltimore

Year of the Orioles

In the Slammer (yanno, we are number 2 in the nation for homicide)


JAMR said...

Armageddon Looms...and Other Great Reasons to Stop Dieting

Therese Walsh said...

Three more from me:

Stain on a Dark Note

Death of Seasons

The Gingerbread Coffin

(Obviously I'm in a jolly mood today. ;) )

Merry Jelinek said...

How about:

Friends Make Good Produce - The Cannibal's Cook Book

Hélène B said...


by Paige Turner

A.S. Peterson said...

The Budge-Nuzzard!

Land of the Leapers Wee

My Smells, My Hells

Anonymous said...

The Fabric of Night

-Brandon Jimison

Anonymous said...

I've Caught My Tail, What Do I Do With It Now?

A Feather Is A Letter From A Bird

Josephine Damian said...

Oh, goodie, a second chance!

We'll Always Have Paris... Hilton
written by her boyfriends


But I'm casting my vote for Tom Burchfield:

If I Were President by George W. Bush


writtenwyrdd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

The Lyin' Bitch and Her Wardrobe.

Capt. Nic said...

What Really Saved the World? The Search For Virtual Reality.

spyscribbler said...

The Goodbye Chronicles
The Wrinkled Toes of the Creekside Ballet Company

Jordyn said...

Okay, okay, MORE TITLES. They might all suck, but this is too much fun to stop!







Bethany said...

In All the Dark Corners

Nathan Bransford said...

Annnnnnnnd... time's up.

Tallying up the votes now. Check back tomorrow for the winner!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan!

How about a hot and sexy title!

Disorderly Sex and Uninhibited Bedrooms (Secrets to a lasting marriage)

Destiny Blaine

Christopher M. Park said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.J. said...

"Flakes Bloom"

Let me know if want the manuscript for it, Nate. : )

Anonymous said...

Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand by Dana Kollmann (a book about her CSI experiences)

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