Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are Book Titles...Subliminal?



For the last Undercover Wednesday of November, I wanted to be all scientific and intuitive and thought provoking…

...

Okay. Stop laughing, people. You look ridiculous when you snort like that.

...

Ahem. Anyway, I decided to explore the phenomena of BOOK TITLES today! I should first mention that my purpose here isn't really to help anyone come up with a snazzy, kickass title. I mean, I'm a spy. Not a title doctor. But I hear if you pay Copil, like, five cents, he'll spit one out for you like a momma monkey searching for lice on her youngin' -- but you didn't hear it from me! My purpose is to see if I could find any discernible patterns in the YA titles that made it all the way to publication. And also, I'd be remiss as a spy if I didn't suspect something else going on in all this book-naming business…invisible ink messages, anyone???

So.

THE MISSION:
Find out if subliminal messages exist in book titles.

THE STAKES:
Free will. The power of our mind. Coolness factor. Duh.

THE TOOLS:
Goodreads
Wordle

THE OPERATION:
There are seriously TONS of books published each year…way too many for me to analyze effectively. So what I did was collect the titles from the YA books released this month (which would be November for anyone still suffering from a Thanksgiving carb coma). Then, I simply Wordled...And fooled around with the font, colors, format, etc., but that's not really the point, yeah?

THE INTELL:
What I found out was pretty interesting. Out of all 56 books released* this month, there were two words that featured prominently in my Wordle cloud:

DARK

and

LAST

Dark and Last, y'all. DARK. Opposite of light. LAST. Opposite of Beginning. Both words are pretty…depressing, no?

I suppose you could say both words are also dramatic. They give an immediate image. Provoke atmosphere and feeling. When we write for teens, we want all those things. We want to punch the air and hope the ripple effect knocks down a few telephone poles, or at the very least, to mess up Susie-Perfect-Hair's sculpted coif, amiright?

But when there are literally dozens and dozens of books lined up on a shelf, be it physical or virtual, do teens really pay attention to the title? Or is it just about cover love? ;)

(I don't know the answer here, so I'm hoping y'all will discuss in the comments!)

Here are some other interesting tidbits I found out from the 56 books.

There were:

5 titles starting with the letter F
4 starting with L
8 starting with The
19 one-word titles
5 alliterative titles
7 played on fairy tales or references to "story"
12 titles with darker themes (violence, death, pain)
17 with 3 or more words 

I'm sure there are other patterns, but I'm still trying to survive my 50K NaNo goal and failing horribly...WHICH REMINDS ME!

Y'all know today is the last day for NaNo, right? Which also means you have THE REST OF TODAY to enter our awesome NaNoTeen giveaway for 10-page crits from all of our YA Confidential Spies! This is a major prize, people. MAJOR! *channeling my inner Posh Spice*

So don't forget to enter the giveaway if you haven't already (and remember to follow the rules) AND let us know in the comments how you feel about current titles in YA books. Are there any trends you notice? Do you think DARK and LAST actually means something more or is it just a November thing because Mother Nature basically shuts her blinds and turns her iPod on to Evanescence during this time of year?

We'd love to hear from you!

Until then, Happy Book Title Analyzing and Good Luck for those pushing toward the final hours of NaNoWriMo!


*Titles used were found through Goodreads and may not include ALL books released during the month.

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