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What's in a Title?

The headline read "Pope says no to married priests." It grabbed my attention, in part because my brother is a (celibate) priest, and in part because a friend's son-in-law is, in fact, a married priest. So what would the article have to tell me...

Nothing at all about married priests if seemed! It described how the Pope had addressed various items brought up in a letter to him--how he supported environmental issues and wanted groups to move forward, etc. But, it said, he didn't address the suggestion that allowing married priests might be a good idea in that particular situation... so maybe he sort of said "no" by default, maybe...

And I felt cheated. I should have known better. Headlines are clickbait for readers. Click more and the owner of the site earns more. So who cares the article matches the headline's attraction?

Book titles might look like clickbait too. We want the reader to pick up the book or click on Amazon's "look inside" to learn more. But we don't get paid by the click. We get paid if someone buys the book; if someone decides the contents are worth paying money for. So... best not to cheat the reader; best to give them some reason to believe the title will make sense when they've finished the read.

I called my first book Divide by Zero. I think it made sense. The first pages introduce a very conflicted character--a man divided against himself perhaps. Then Infinite Sum--a woman who felt weighed down by a wealth (a sum?) of tribulations. Then Subtraction and a man who felt as if everything he'd had was taken from him. I think the titles made sense, though the novels didn't sell. And I'm wondering, perhaps...

Perhaps book titles need to be clickbait AND make sense; who's going to click on math when they're looking for fiction? Could my editor have helped?

Editors don't normally edit your titles for you. But you're welcome to ask. Because editors love words, and we do like to help.

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Read Reviews of Sheila Deeth's Books

If you've written a review of one of my books and would like me to include it here, please let me know. I love hearing from readers. All quotes from reviews used with permission. CHILDREN'S STORIES: Excerpts from reviews of Genesis People: Imagine a group of children sitting mesmerized when learning about the Creation of the World. (Fran Lewis, author of the Bertha Series of books) How I wish I had found Genesis People when my boys were young! (Ginna Vickory) I think they would have understood the verses better and had fun (Gina Carn) Adults will also see with new eyes and understanding. (Myrna De Mots, preschool teacher) ...fact-based stories capable of entertaining both the young and old alike. (Joyce Bergstrom) Writing with spiritual stimulation from true Bible stories, Deeth exercises “holy imagination” and takes us on a journey with fresh insights into biblical characters, their original surroundings and God’s heart for his people and the whole of creation. (Carl Lee

Ethical Editing

Someone told me recently "Ventilators kill people," adding, "70% of people put on ventilators die. They're killing people." So I argued with her. But what if she'd written an article and hired me to edit it? What if her article began exactly as above? What would I do? My first "edit" would complain that "Ventilators kill people" is stated like fact while, since it's not common knowledge and it's not yet supported by facts, it can only be opinion. I'd suggest she change it to read " I think ventilators kill people." Then, if the article contains an argument to prove her statement, she could end with "So, ventilators kill people" as her conclusion. Next I would complain about the 70% statement, arguing that writers should not deliberately mislead their readers. Looking for minimal edits, I'd suggest "70% of victims put on ventilators die" or "70% of people put on ventilators still die,"