What’s in a title?

The year is now nicely steaming along. Even my dread of Sunday and their difficult afternoons have past. We watched the documentary on David Hockney. A great piece of film making. A work of art on its own. We went to bed at midnight after we heard rain pelting down joyfully on our metal roof. During the documentary a hauntingly beautiful piece of music was being played. I was overjoyed to recognise it instantly as, una furtiva lacrima, by Donizetti. Last week I could not remember Mahler’s slow movement in Death in Venice. All in all, not a bad ending to the Sunday, really. Also, the encouraging words by Hilary that the episodic memories are the ones to leave us last was so heartily taken in. Thank you Hilary. I am still here.

Over 70,000 words have now been cobbled together waiting for a title of which I thought of asking  your opinions. How important is the title? The book, (or rather my book,) will be published by hook but more by crook. I am now overloaded by words. I will let them rest and allow time  for some bedding down. In the meantime a search for a title with hopefully some input by you!

Helvi thought of ‘Migrant’s Vignettes.’ This what I have titled it for the time being.

The book  kicks off with a lengthy introduction. ‘Those first two years on Own block of Land’ before it jauntily starts in earnest with many shorts bits of all that entails a migrant’s life. One of those bits is called ‘Erectile dysfunctional benefits.’ I rather like that as a title.  It has an optimistic timbre and pitch about it, together with a hint of a societal medical quandary. It also seems to give hope. They say sex sells. I mean, men especially are obsessed with their potency, flagging or otherwise. Doctor’s surgeries are chockers with balding men seeking to renew their prescriptions on Viagra while pretending to read a well thumbed Women’s Weekly.

What about women though? Would that title be enticing enough? What age group of women would be drawn to such a title? Don’t forget that women outlive men. Eventide Home and Autumnal Haven for the aging are often sadly lacking in men. Have they have all succumbed to the worry of their dysfunctional erections? Would a book with such a title be stocked in retirement homes? Perhaps a quiet read in the evening for those women whose men had left them so prematurely? Would the book give them some solace?

In 2015 the WordPress annual report stated that during the year  A nostalgic look back at my Colonoscopy was the most read and responded to, with 121 views. That says a lot about what draws readers to my pieces, doesn’t it? There clearly is a hunkering after the good old days. How would that go down as a good title? I personally think it might be too medical. Then again, the word ‘nostalgic’ conjures up yearnings for what has been.  The previous title with the word ‘erectile’ included seems to have rigidity or an unyieldingness about it. What do you think?

What about artistic merit or integrity reflected somehow in the title? So much to ponder.

I would be so grateful if you could spare some time and advise.


Tags: , , , , ,

42 Responses to “What’s in a title?”

  1. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    I think that book titles aren’t important at all anymore, mainly because these days most books are bought and ordered online. Reviews and ratings are what we look for now.

    But..if your book will end up in a bargain bin (one of my favorite places to meet new authors) then you better have a title that interests me. 🙂

    I know, I am no help 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I do look at titles. I am a sloth when it comes to on-line books. There is so much about pass words and having to follow prompts obediently. I have a kindle and bought my first book on-line and I have the receipt of having paid but my kindle still has the original ‘War and Peace’ on it! Should I shake it a bit?
      I bought ‘Border-Line’ by Hilary Green.
      I have to just download the free kindle from Amazon and it will all be revealed.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. rodhart (@roderick_hart) Says:

    I prefer Helvi’s suggestion to ‘Erectile dysfunctional benefits’. It better describes the content and also cannot be mistaken for a medical treatise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Intricate Knot Says:

    I think the title of a book is crucial. A good title draws the reader to your book. Pretty important! I really like “Migrant’s Vignettes” only I’d probably change it to “A Migrant’s Vignettes.”

    Looks like your New Year is moving along!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Mary Cathleen Clark Says:

    A book’s title is the first thing I notice. The second is a colorful, interesting cover. And yes, sex sells–or lack of it. I like “Erectile Dysfunctional Benifits”. You could lead off with that story. One can’t help but notice that title. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres Says:

    I think titles are very important. Not critical, perhaps, but close. I also think that you’re the only one who can — or should — provide the title. To put it another way, the title’s between you and your book. If you don’t know what it is yet, mull. Ponder. Stew. Listen. It will come.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. gerard oosterman Says:

    It will come. I am not sure if the book isn’t too long. ‘A biography’ is pompous and ‘memoirs’ too, seem a bit pretentious. They are just snippets of a normal life.
    I will see! Thank you for your input.


  7. berlioz1935 Says:

    I don’t like “Migrant” either. It is not a migrant who is observing life, but Gerard. I think your stories are Gerard specific. Are they all set in Australia?

    Sure, you are a migrant, but a reluctant one. Your parents replanted you into a new environment. The classical migrant seeks out a new shore himself. One can feel displaced without migrating to a new continent. You would have noticed the odd thing or two even in Holland.

    “Vignettes” is a good word. I think you are a quirky observer in the “lucky country”. Is there a “red line” going through your stories? What is the overall connection? You see things a red-blooded Aussie would never see because all is so normal for him.

    What does it mean for you to live only meters away from the holy ground of Australian cricket, Bradman Oval?

    Sorry, I can’t be more specific. But it may help you making up your mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    I have written the words and now we shall see, Berlioz. I know it is Gerard’s story but that will be acknowledged when or if it gets off the ground. All this passes the time and keeps me excited.

    The stories are bits of memories and faded happenings seen through sceptical eyes with a fair sprinkling of clear sighted despair. Some say, they are a bit funny as well. I hope so.

    As for the Bradman oval. We walk around it almost daily. Milo often cocks his leg against the picket fence. What does he tell me with that? And even though I was appointed an ambassador for promoting the oval and cricket, much to my shame, I don’t understand the game at all. It obstinately refuses to even allow me a beginning of understanding, let alone a smidgen of sympathy. I usually tell people “it is a marvellous game.”
    All my grandsons tell me; “We hate cricket.”
    I have a willow wood cricket bat in the garage, that’s about all.

    Some of the stories happens away from Australia and deals with working in Holland wearing a suit.
    You probably read some of those bits already here on my blog.

    Thank you so much Berlioz. I appreciate your input.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. elizabeth2560 Says:

    Titles are important. Use no more than four words or it is too many for people to remember.
    Think: “Eat Pray Love”. “Gone With The Wind”.

    It is also important to think of a catch-phrase that will go on the cover of the book.
    example. Eat Pray Love (Title).
    One woman’s search for everything (catch-phrase)

    So yours could be
    “Becoming Australian” (title)
    “A migrant’s vignette of the road to Oz” (catch-phrase).
    “From them to us” (title)
    A Migrant’s Vignette (catch-phrase).
    A migrant’s vignette
    My journey from there to here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Elizabeth, and some very good titles and suggestions. I am not sure about using the word ‘migrant’ in the title. As Berlioz pointed out, the migrant era has gone into the night a long time ago in Australia.
      Refugees are now the new migrants, at least in the rest of the world.
      I will wait and see what pops up in the title quest. It all sounds very literary, a bit of self indulgence..?.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Big M Says:

    I wouldn’t brush up against any erections, or colonoscopies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      My days of the colonoscopy are finished, Big M. I miss the friendly nurse with, ‘please Mr Oosterman, draw your knees up a bit more’. And then afterwards; that glorious reward of the ham and cheese sandwich brought on a trolley.
      Erections? ach…so much in the past to ponder about!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yvonne Says:

    I reckon the title and cover design are very important!

    Right now, I’ve got downloaded onto my reading devices “Justice is Blind”. The catch phrase is “And her dog just peed in my cornflakes”. I couldn’t resist the catch-phrase!

    I’ve just read Hilary’s book, I quite liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. gerard oosterman Says:

    I have read some of Hilary’s book and also finally managed to buy Rod’s book. I am now in the process of raising my computor on a piece of railway sleeper to get a better view of all the words, more in line with my vision. H reckons I was slumping and getting a crook back.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Julia Lund Says:

    I always find titles difficult to come up with. I think having a working one is a good idea and always name mine, even though they can change. Perhaps a phrase from one of your tales will leap out at you? Come up with a list of possibilities and let them stew for a while.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Titles are difficult for me. They either come naturally right away or I have to rack my brain for one. So I’m not much help in that area.

    70,000 words you have? Congratulations! That’s wonderful. Best of luck to you with it.

    Lovely song!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Andrew Says:

    Around the world in 80 years. Or, Heaven is Helvi. Or, Lieber ein Holländer in Australien als auf der Autobahn.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Andrew Says:

    Well it worked for Rudi Carrell 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Master of Something Yet Says:

    Given the preference for people to browse online these days rather than in a bookshop, maybe you need to find out Google’s most searched for words and incorporate those into the title? For Australia, I’d suggest anything to do with sport. If you want to sell in the US, try something like “I wanted to be a Jedi”.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. auntyuta Says:

    I like Helvi’s title. A possibility might be to call it ‘sketches’ instead of vignettes? But on second thoughts a literary person reading the title should really know the word ‘vignette’ or be able to guess the meaning. So there is no problem with this title.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I have taken out the ‘Migrant’ from the title and reduced it to the singular ‘Vignettes’. Thank you Uta.


      • auntyuta Says:

        Examples of Vignettes

        “By the Railway Side,” by Alice Meynell
        Eudora Welty’s Sketch of Miss Duling
        Evan S. Connell’s Narrative Sketch of Mrs. Bridge
        Harry Crews’s Sketch of His Stepfather
        Hemingway’s Use of Repetition

        The above examples of vignettes I found here:


        There is also this Etymology:

        From Old French, “little vine.” According to William Harmon, the term vignette is “borrowed from that used for unbordered but delicate decorative designs of a book and it implies writing with comparable grace and economy” (A Handbook to Literature, 2006)


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I am very impressed by that, Uta. Especially that last bit. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Glad to be of use. Title is soooo important (I speak as someone who has got this wrong in the past). How about the Colonoscopy one with addition of ‘…and other stories’?


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it would be a catchy title, I am sure. It might attract doctors and nurses. I have to go back and see if the story of colonoscopy is actually in the book. I know that the last one at Concord Repat.Hospital I had a wristband with Mary on it. And it was only when I was wheeled into the ward for female operations and my gown lifted, that the mistake was discovered.


  20. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I have pondered titles for both paintings and sculptures for over 60 years! They have a tendency to be very important unfortunately.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: