Our Favourite Book Titles
We dive into what makes a great LifeBook title and why that matters.
What’s in a name or, more specifically, a book title? I think it’s a fair assumption that most of us have at some point daydreamed about writing our own life story. For our LifeBook Memoirs authors who have made that dream a reality, most, if not all, have enjoyed choosing the title of their book. But why is a book title so important?
We all know (and have probably read) some of the classics: Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye … the list goes on. Whilst the old saying, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’, might be good advice, there’s no doubt that as readers we are initially drawn to book titles. After all, the title is most likely the first thing that will draw a reader in. So, what makes for a great book title, and how does an author create intrigue to encourage a reader to delve in?
Unlike some of the constraints that most published authors face when choosing a book title, at LifeBook Memoirs our authors have much more freedom to get really creative. Or not. Sometimes, the simplest of book titles can still be as effective.
Given my sense of fun, I personally would opt for a light-hearted and perhaps quirky title which, in a few lines, would capture who I am and the experiences I’ve had. Easier said than done? As a fun experiment, I decided to put a few of my loved ones on the spot and ask them to think of a title for my own (as yet unwritten) autobiography. After a vast amount of coaxing, here’s what they came up with:
‘Charlie Drama Rhymes with Llama’
‘The French Connection’
‘It’s All Greek to Me’
So there you have it. I think they did quite well! But let’s now turn to some of LifeBook Memoirs’ experts to see what they think makes for a great LifeBook title and to glean their insights on unleashing your own inner creativity.
Over to you …
Kate Parry, editor:
“A good title should in some way capture the character of you and your story. There are lots of different kinds of title – for example, yours could range in tone from funny to poignant, from austere to lavish, or from pragmatic to fanciful – but it should echo the tone of the story you have told. There is no perfect length for a title, but short, punchy titles are more memorable. Think about who you have written your book for; what will be meaningful to them? Do you want to entice your readers with a hint at what lies beyond the front cover?
Overall, the title of your LifeBook is part of your story and it should reflect who you think you are and the story you want to tell, but don’t feel pressured by the task. You can be as imaginative or as straightforward about it as you want to be because the most important thing is that your title feels natural to you.”
Ben Creeth, editor:
“It’s great if an author can think of a title which summarises their life. However, it usually isn’t possible to summarise a whole life in a single phrase, and I don’t think authors should always aim for that. More important is that a book title should be brief, memorable and representative of the author’s personality. A funny title will remind an author’s loved ones of their sense of humour; an understated title can convey an author’s humility. Although our ghostwriters and editors are happy to suggest titles, I think that ideally they should come from the authors themselves – they are a vital slice of their personality.”
Having closed the chapter on 2022, another fantastic year, we thought it might be fun to revisit some of our authors’ book titles and ask the team at LifeBook Memoirs HQ to vote for their favourite.
First place goes to …
Cobras and Chrysanthemums by Patty Davey
“This author grew up in India, and she wanted a snake and flowers on her front cover. Our former editor Halima helped with the title, and another editor, Ania, designed the beautiful book cover.” Josie Turner, project manager
“The author wanted something a little different and special, and the title really gave me something I could work with, visually, for this design. I applied the title quite literally to the cover treatment, and luckily the author liked it!” Ania Kalinowska, editor
“What a fantastic, original title! I picked this one because it sounds intriguing and enticing. A combination of dangerous (cobras) and delicate (chrysanthemums) made me want to stop and find out more about the person behind the book.” Magda Mikulin, senior interviewer recruiter
“My favourite book title is Cobras and Chrysanthemums because I love the juxtaposition between the snake and the flower; it’s immediately intriguing as I want to open the book to find out just how these two things have affected the author’s life!” Heather van Graan, bespoke project manager
December Roses by Cindy Forbes
“This has always been one of my favourite LifeBook titles. It stems from a poem by the English priest and poet Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy named Roses in December. The original line, ‘God gave his children memory that in life’s garden there might be June roses in December’, essentially means that as long as memory endures, we will be able to look back and recall the events of our lives. It’s a quite beautiful and poignant line and one that encapsulates what we do and why we do it. In thanking her project team in her acknowledgements, the author, Cindy Forbes, said that her book might have remained only as a dream, but now there are ‘December Roses’ for real.” Steven Edwards, senior editor
Four Weddings and a Funeral by Rosalind Lunt
“Rosalind’s book title got my vote because I found it very intriguing. I really wanted to know more about her story. After all the difficulties Rosalind has been through, I thought it was very moving that she took a light-hearted approach with the title of her book.” Jasmine Gooding, project management team administrator
Big congratulations to Patty, Cindy and Rosalind, our fabulous book title winners in 2022! We have enjoyed revisiting our authors’ wonderful book titles and we hope that you might have found some nuggets of inspiration here to help you create a title that’s just perfect for you and your story!
Charlotte Sinclair, LifeBook Memoirs project manager
We are here to answer any questions you may have about our private autobiographies.