What makes a bad title?

by Janeen Eckhart

Switched at Birth!

Switched at Birth!

This is how bad a title can be.

(By the way, Steve, thanks for telling me about this forum.)

I actually received a bad title notification!

I guess you know your title is really bad when an agent's assistant calls you up and whispers (I presume, because the agent was nearby), "You know that's a really awful title, don't you?"

So of course now I'm embarrassed to tell you what it was! But I'll tell you anyway...

"Rhonda's Homecoming."

So I guess my first question is, "Does anyone know why that's SUCH a bad title?" I mean, I guess I can see where it's not great, but I'm not quite sure I see why it merited an emergency warning!

Of course, my second question is, "What should the title be?" So I guess I should tell you something about the book.

Do you remember that real-life Switched at Birth story some time back? That was what got me thinking. That was about real-life adults, but I wanted mine to be about teenage girls. Well, one of the teenage girls in particular: Rhonda.

(Maybe I should be saying Copyright Janeen Eckhart 2009 right about here. Oh, and if you steal it, you can kiss your karma goodbye!)

Of the two girls, Rhonda is the one who's not particularly happy, and being a teenager she OF COURSE blames her mother, a totally single parent.

The two families meet after they learn what happened. The other girl is sweet and completely attached to her two parents. To Rhonda, on the other hand, the grass definitely looks greener on the other side.

To make a long novel short, circumstances contrive to actually give Rhonda the chance to experience life with her birth parents. And while they ARE terrific, Rhonda ends up going back to her mom, and with a new appreciation for her mom. THAT was supposed to be Rhonda's Homecoming.

Okay, so does anyone have a better title? (Of course you do, since mine is apparently the worst title in the world.) I have lost all confidence in my own ability to pick one!

Comments for What makes a bad title?

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I know something about bad titles!
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Janeen, thanks for posting! And, just a warning to Writer's Block Writers Forum participants: I reserve the right to attach a dorky image to your posts, just like I did to Janeen's!

Janeen, you actually asked two questions: "What should my title be?" and "What made Rhonda's Homecoming such a bad title?"

I have a guess on the second question.

It's not that the title is awful per se, it's just that it says NOTHING about your unique subject matter. In other words, looking at it from a marketing standpoint...

You've got a brilliant, catchy premise for a book. That's what should probably be hyped. The word "homecoming" is so generic - applied these days usually to festivities surrounding a football game - that it suggests little about the book.

If you have an exciting, unique premise, that premise probably belongs in the title. It'll make agents and publishers more likely to read it; it'll make readers more likely to buy it.

Oh, and by the way, I know something about bad titles. My first movie was titled (against my wishes) The Last Seduction.

That would be bad enough - it really said nothing about the story - but the movie was successful enough that the producers sold someone the right to make a sequel (without me!). And the title of that sequel?...

The Last Seduction 2

That's right! The Second LAST Seduction.


Why my title is so bad
by: Janeen

Steve, that totally, totally makes sense. Like totally! I can't explain why it never occurred to me.


Still looking for titles, people!

A title
by: Randy

How about, "You Really AREN'T My Mother!"

More titles
by: Cecilia

Choice of Parents
Mistake of Birth
The Hospital Called...
Wrong Womb ;-)
Secret Identity
What Makes a Mom

My final title
by: Janeen

I've decided to go with, "Switched at Birth; Switched BACK at Fifteen." It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but for the purpose of marketing to agents and publishers, I'm hoping it will be perfect, since it really sums up what the book is about.

Thank you everyone!

Another post on titles
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

I think that choice makes sense, Janeen.

Just wanted to let readers know that we have another discussion on not bad, but good titles.

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