Editor Neil Clarke is editing a number of magazines that accept short stories, including Clarkesworld Magazine, a Hugo Award-winning and World Fantasy Award nominated science fiction and fantasy magazine, and Forever Magazine.
He recently reported they had just crossed the 50,000 point in their submissions system sometime in April, and thought it might be fun to do a quick analysis of the most popular story titles submitted. Turns out that, although some 88% of the titles authors used were unique, others were rather popular.
Here is Neil’s list (the silly comments underneath are my first thoughts when I saw the titles, I’m afraid):
- At 1st Place – with 18 entries, was the following single-word title: Dust
Do I detect a Howey influence here?
- 2nd Place – with 16 entries: The Gift, Home, Hunger, Homecoming
The Hunger Games come home.
- 3rd Place – with 15 entries: The Box
Which reminds me of the need to think outside of it when picking a title.
- 4th Place – with 14 entries: Monsters
- 5th Place – with 13 entries: Lost and Found
Throw in a Paradise there and you get Milton’s work. Abridged.
- 6th Place – with 12 entries: Sacrifice, The Hunt, Flight
I’m thinking of an Elton John influence here.
- 7th Place – with 11 entries: Heartless, The End, Alone, Legacy, Adrift
Wasn’t there a song called Alone by – ironically – Heart?
- 8th Place – with 10 entries: Red, Reflections, The Visit, Broken
I think “The Visit” was the original title of my “I Come in Peace” short story – the very first thing I got published. Good thing I changed the title…
- 9th Place – with 9 entries:
The Other Side, Rebirth, Voices, Genesis, Awakening, The Collector, Disconnected, The Wall, The Prisoner, Deus Ex Machina, Hero, Skin Deep, Memories, Skin
- 10th Place – with 8 entries:
The Machine, The Tower, Coming Home, Rain, Going Home, The Dark, Inheritance, The Door, The Choice, Happiness, Perchance to Dream, Last Call, The Fall, Night Terrors
As someone pointed out on Clarke’s site, a great idea might be to combine these into single titles. Anyone willing to write The Dust Monsters’ Broken Gift Box of Reflections?
Hopefully, my children’s book’s highly original title, Runaway Smile, will entice you to read it online for free!
I know what NOT to title my next short stories LOL ;D
Lol – same here 😀
Looks like I’m going to have to go back to the drawing-board for my stunning, sometimes shocking, collection of short stories called “The”.
Maybe “And” is more progressive… or should that be “&”…
Have you considered an em-dash? I hear they’re all the rage nowadays.
Ooh, that’s an idea. And if I combine it with a total lack of punctuation in the actual text, I’ve got postmodernist deconstructive ironic pathos, or something…
I love it when you talk dirty!
Titles are so hard to come up with, I’m not surprised that so many people come up with the same ones. A good list of titles not to use, I think. 🙂
Lol – absolutely! I had to go through a number of titles for my second collection of short stories before I ended up with Infinite Waters. Every time I searched Amazon for one of the previous titles, I would get dozens of hits…
Enjoyed this post. Definitely sounds as though some research should go into finding a book title.
It rather does, doesn’t it? 🙂
This is really interesting, because there was a thread in my writers group recently talking about extremely long book titles (novels) that ended up with movie options and a new name… so maybe the title needs to be proportionate to the length of the work. 😉
Lol – or the producer’s pocket 😀
Fun post, and something to reinforce the idea of picking an original title for your work or at least researching what you choose. How about The Machine in the Box in Lost and Found?
Genius! Just take my money and send me the book 😀
Oops, I got cooking dinner and almost forgot to share. Doing it now…
Lol – thanks! 😀
lol, i had a related article posted on LastRites blog concerning titles if you care to check it out: https://www.lastwritesdmd.com/whats-in-a-title-by-michael-thomas-knight/
An excellent post! Thanks for the link 🙂
Several times, I have Googled either names or titles I have considered writing down, and several times, I have had to change mine. I don’t want to have to contend with someone saying they thought of it first, and I copied them. Once, I even found out how to contact someone who used a term I wanted to use, though in a different light than she did, to make sure I could keep it.
I bet, if someone worked a bit at it, they could write something incorporating all the titles into one story. Might be interesting…
You’re too kind to do that! I’m mostly worried that someone looking for my book will never be able to find it.
Of course, I know marketers who would probably advise you to take advantage of others’ audiences to promote your book faster. Which is why I’m thinking of naming my next character Harry Fotter 😀
You could make him have a drinking problem, and always having to relieve himself. Someone else would walk up behind him while he’s at it and say, “Yer a wizzer, Harry! And a thumpin’ good’un, too.”
I have a couple of novels on my shelf with exactly the same titles by different authors. Most confusing. How can one stand out in the crowd when you can be mistaken for someone else? Great post!
Thanks! My feelings exactly 🙂
Interesting. I wrote a short story Ghost Ship. There’s probably a ton of those now that I think about it. Ha ha. For books I at least do an amazon search to make sure its unique.
Same here! 🙂
Thanks for my morning laugh! But “Lost and Found: Throw in a Paradise there and you get Milton’s work. Abridged.” made my day!
Lol – thanks! 😀
Reblogged this on Progressive Rubber Boots.
Titles are tough since there’s so much out there. Sometimes completely different stories work with the same single word title, which gets frustrating. This seems to happen with songs too. There’s ‘one’ on my iPod that is the same title, three different songs, and three different artists. Believe the combination is Linkin Park, Distrubed, and P!nk. Guess it’s a good thing that you can’t copywrite a word.
Lol – don’t you be giving Disney any ideas now 😀
That would be terrifying. They’d copywrite the words ‘and’ and ‘the’ then we’d all be in trouble.
An excellent example of how important it is to choose a compelling title.
I am starting the first chapter of ‘The Dust Monster’s Broken Gift Box of Reflections’ immediately!
Best wishes, Pete.
Lol – hope you enjoy it 😀
There go all my great titles I was saving for my bestseller list.
Downloading your book. Thanks! Will leave a review! 🙂
PS: It isn’t free right now. Time differences?
Erm, it’s free to read online, if you’re talking about Runaway Smile. I’d be happy to email you a copy of that (or any other of my books), if you wish!
I love reading and I love giving reviews. So that would be great.
Awesome! Which of the books would you like? I’d be happy to send you all of them, if you wish 🙂
Cool. If they look good, I’ll put them on my blog on Friday and we’ll see if you can glean some reviews.
Super kind of you; thanks! I’ll email them right away 🙂
Lol – sorry to disappoint you! Back to the drawing board, I’m afraid 😀
Thank you so much; you rock!!! 😀
Its so easy to research stuff now… why dont peope think of researching titles?
I wanted to call my new collection of short stories, “the twist in the tale.” A quick search on Amazon put that idea to rest fast enough 😀
Let that be a lesson to us all!
Reblogged this on Books and More.