For all our readers waiting to learn the winner of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, the suspense is over.
The 2012 winner is Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop: And Other Practical Advice In Our Campaign Against The Fairy Kingdom by Reginald Bakeley. This winning book is your go-to guide to banishing pesky dark fairy creatures who threaten to thwart every last pleasure, be it gardening, country hikes, or even getting a good night’s sleep. It beat out, “God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis,” and “How to Sharpen Pencils,” among others.
Back in March, I announced the contest in this post, Is your book title odd? Check these out and vote for the weirdest one. (You’ll also find links to two posts about writing book and screenplay titles.)
The prize for oddest book title is named after the Diagram Group, an information and graphics company based in London, and The Bookseller, a British trade magazine for the publishing industry. The contest was started in 1978 at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the first winner was “Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice.”
For more information about how the prize started and past winners, check out the Wikipedia page, Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year.
Choosing the right title is an art. Sometimes, titles come in a brilliant flash of insight. Sometimes, not. I write poetry so I’ve had years of practice with titles. With most poems, I can usually find an intriguing title fairly quickly. Not so with my memoir. I’ve spent hours and hours and hours trying to come up with just the right title. In the process, I’ve discovered a few things to think about when choosing a title. But first, I’ll share some of my title failures and why they failed (no laughing out loud!)
My memoir is the story of how, as a child, I used the intuitive gifts inherited from my Norwegian great-grandmothers to transcend my father’s dark legacy. Below are the titles I’ve used along the way, in order of appearance. (I’m sharing the bad first so you can see how I learned from my mistakes).
The Language of Thorns. Okay, yes, I’m a poet. This shows it by being too literary and dramatic. Read more
How often are you attracted to a book by its title? Your title is a chance to capture a reader’s attention (not to mention an agent’s or editor’s).
Consider this guide as you settle on a title for your novel, memoir, or short story.
Double meanings can work. But look out for clichés, and make sure the meaning is what you intend and not too obscure or clever. The title of the movie, “The King’s Speech,” could mean the publicly important speech that King George delivers at the end or his speech — his way of speaking. It works.
Think about the tone and voice of your book. A powerful title will match the style of writing readers find on the pages of your book. Read more