Top Trends in #BookTitles

All the Books We Cannot See: When Book Titles Follow Trends


I talk books with a whole lotta people, and usually, I can navigate discussions without completely embarrassing myself. But not so long ago, while musing about book titles over email, I failed to make the connection that my book companion was talking about ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, you know, that 531-page World War II novel by that multiple award-winning author, Anthony Doerr. That one. That little-known, rarely talked-about book, that oh, let’s see . . . WON THIS YEAR’S PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION.

That one.

She had just finished reading it. Me? I must have been tired (was it a late-night email exchange?), or maybe I was distracted (so many books, so little time) . . .

Doesn’t matter.

I so utterly failed to realize that what she was talking about was THAT SPECIFIC BOOK that I completely confused and cluttered our conversation, until finally, she realized the synapses weren’t firing in my brain, and very politely indicated that she was referring to Doerr’s novel.

Oh. Duh. (“I totally knew what you were talking about!”) Not.

How embarrassing.

And frustrating! Because I know this book – heck, it’s sitting on my desk waiting to be read. So why did I flub up the conversation? Was there something wrong with the neurotransmitters in my brain? Did the receptors across my synaptic cleft suddenly decide to take a freaking nap?

Maybe it’s not my fault.

All three of these books released in 2014 within 90 days of each other, all with very similar titles, and very similar covers. Two of them are even about war.


And then there’s this:

the girl on the trainthe boys on the boat

And how about this? Two books by (very) different authors, both titled: THE DOUBLE. But thanks to book cover design, one Double, really is double. So together, they read: The Double, The Double, The Double. Which, to my mind, is a triple. Or maybe it’s six. I don’t know.


Here’s two books living lives after life. When placed side by side, you can read them this way: Life after life after life after life.


(Hat tip to Emily Temple’s March 8, 2013 Flavorwire “The Doubles: 10 Pairs of Great Books With the Same Titles” for catching the LIFE AFTER LIFE and THE DOUBLE similarities. Photo credits belong to that article.)

My point is, I don’t think it’s entirely my fault that I momentarily “spaced out” about a book title. Especially when some writers do it to us intentionally.

The way Jojo Moyes does it, AFTER YOU, sounds almost polite. Or maybe not, if you put both of her titles into dialogue.

“After you?”
“No, me before you.”

after youme before you

So I’m not crazy. Am I? The trouble with some book titles, especially when done to chase a trend, is that they create a crowded marketplace filled not with: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, but all the BOOKS we cannot see.

But don’t take my word for it. Almost two years ago (so the list is still growing), published “The Book Title with 91 Imitators” based on an article that originally appeared in the February 3, 2014 issue of New York Magazine. The article chronicles the mind-blowing flood of books with the word GIRL in the title. The list is astonishing. Nearly 100 ‘girl’ titles and counting.

Here’s a sample:

I’m thinking this girl should find another hobby. She’s clearly not good at flying.

Now, don’t get me wrong. They look like fabulous books. My apologies to the writers who are experiencing their third incarnation of the same point – first in New York Magazine, then in Vulture and now on my book blog. But doesn’t it make you wonder what Stieg Larsson would say about all of this? He’s probably spinning in his grave because he was the boy who was the first GIRL. But then, wait a minute. He’s part of the problem . . .

thegirlwiththe dragonthegirlwhoplayedthegirlwhokicked

Or, maybe, Stieg’s not the problem. He was simply the first to brand it.

Stieg was Swedish. The above titles were chosen for the English-language market. The original title for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTO is: Män som hatar kvinnor, “Men Who Hate Women.”

Too bad for the men who hate women. The word GIRL sure sells a lot of books!

Just ask JoJo. That girl sells a whole lotta books. But with all this AFTER YOU and ME BEFORE YOU going around, it seems someone got left behind . . .


Great news! I found her. She’s at the Barnes & Noble.

Many thanks to the astute readers of this blog post who are leaving great comments in my comment section, causing me to return to this post to add:

David Benoit at the The Wall Street Journal chimed in on this topic back in November (11/16/15). Here’s his spin on the matter: Loved the Novel About a Girl on a Train? You May Have Read the Wrong Book: Thrillers with similiar names cause some confusion; ‘THIS is not that book!’


Thanks for bringing the WSJ article to my attention, Wendy Janes. And thank you, Pauline Wiles, for pointing us to this August 27, 2015 BookBub article by Hannah Reynolds: What Are the Most Popular Title Trends in Your Genre? Reynolds created word clouds for titles in each genre. Interesting to note, the words ‘love,’ ‘bound,’ and ‘cowboy’ all feature prominently in the erotica genre. I feel bad for the cowboy taxed with servicing an entire genre. With all of these girls on the bookshelves, he’s bound to get tired.

Although, he best stay clear of this one . . .


I suspect once we’ve exhausted THE GIRL ON . . . THE GIRL WITH . . . and THE GIRL WHO . . . titles, we’ll eventually declare that title structure to be over, and done with. Or, gone, so to speak.


Or maybe we’ll simply toss that ‘girl’ toward the back end of the title, rather than the front, as seen in ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jess Andrews.

Now that [BLANK] and [BLANK] and the [BLANK BLANK] book I just mentioned has been made into a motion picture, even the moviegoers – who may not be aware of the book – will become attuned to that type of grammatical construction for popular titles.


Dedicated followers of title trends, take note: the [BLANK] and [BLANK] and the [BLANK BLANK] title construction, and the [BLANK] and [BLANK] and [BLANK] and [BLANK] construction may soon be gracing your bookshelves on a slew of new books.

etta and otto and russell and james

I thought it looked fresh when I reviewed Emma Hooper’s ETTA AND OTTO AND RUSSELL AND JAMES. Although, it’s sometimes hard to remember which name comes first. Is it James? Or Otto? No, wait. It’s Etta. Etta comes first. (Great book, by the way.)

Unfortunately for me, who sometimes lapses into moments of faulty synapses over all the books I (apparently) cannot see — like the aforementioned Pulitzer Prize-winning ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE — I sure hope the coming year brings all the right books, IN ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES. So I can see them. Otherwise, I’m going to need new glasses.


Another Update to this Post:


This update added February 22, 2016 with gratitude given to trendsetting author Francine LaSala who, in 2012, titled one of her books The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything long before using the word ‘girl’ in a title was popular. Francine tipped me off to this February 22, 2016 NPR discussion: The ‘Girl’ In The Title: More Than A Marketing Trend. Click to read the article OR listen to this seven minute Morning Edition.

3 Book Cover Designs – 3 Different Markets: THE EVENING CHORUS by Helen Humphreys


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Same book. Different countries. Different book covers. Which cover do you like best? What are you reading this weekend? What I’m reading is hot off the press. THE EVENING CHORUS by Helen Humphreys, released two days ago in the United States by … Continue reading

Crowdfunding, cover reveal, book giveaway…


“On Hump Day About Books”
Today’s Post: Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Q: What day is it?
A: It’s Wednesday! Hump Day.

Great day to talk books and start thinking about the weekend because we’re halfway through the work week, and that, my friends, is reason to party!

FRIDAYCHOSEN010Okay, so. I just stepped off the plane from four days in New York City where I attended BookExpo America, the largest book event in North America. (Yay me!) I have lots to tell you about that trip – but I’ll have to do that in another post (or two) sometime in the next week because my editorial calendar is quite full with hot news in books I want to share.

So let’s begin.

HOwToLoveSanFranOriginally written in German, HOW TO LOVE SAN FRANCISCO, a novel by San Francisco based author, Johanna Lehmann, is a unique travel guide wrapped-up in a modern chick-lit love story set in San Francisco. The German edition was in the top three position in it’s category on, was a semi finalist at the Tuscon Festival of Books, won the ‘2013 Writer’s Institute’ and made Johanna a top 50 non-fiction author on Lovely Books. Johanna and her team have one chapter translated into English and have launched an Indiegogo campaign to get the rest translated.

Now wait a minute. Stop. Back up the buses.

If you’re a writer and you’re reading this and you’ve approached me for coverage about a crowdsourced book campaign and I’ve said no, you’re right, my covering Johanna’s campaign on my book blog isn’t fair. You see, I don’t typically cover campaigns to raise funds for the launch of a book on my book blog, but I’m making this exception because:

  1. It’s an interesting book that bridges travel genre with fiction genre and I think my blog readers will be intrigued by that.
  2. It occurred to me that many of my blog readers (who are readers only and not in the book business) may not know that writers can run campaigns to fund their projects. (Some writers do, some don’t, it depends on their circumstances.)
  3. This author has an interesting “global” story to tell during an exciting, watershed moment in publishing history where borders are being dropped and small press indies are on the rise; a time when an author from Germany, living in San Francisco, writing across two genres, releases with success in Germany, then moves full circle toward releasing the book in English to the U.S. market through crowdfunding.

So, here’s Johanna Lehmann’s story:


Hot book news for this Wednesday: Kathleen Irene Paterka’s new cover for ROYAL SECRETS. I covered the release of this book last July, the day after the His Royal Highness the Prince of Cambridge was born (perfect timing, eh?). Kathleen is the author of many women’s fiction novels, including ROYAL SECRETS, and her popular James Bay series: FATTY PATTY, HOME FIRES, LOTTO LUCY, and FOR I HAVE SINNED. She’s also co-author of the non-fiction book FOR THE LOVE OF A CASTLE. To learn more about ROYAL SECRETS click HERE. Get to know Kathleen and her books by visiting her on Twitter @KPaterka, her website (currently getting a makeover so you might want to wait) and her Facebook page.

ROYAL SECRETS by Kathleen Irene Paterka
Genre: Women’s Fiction Price: $2.99

Barnes & Noble 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00035]

Be the first to know: On June 17, 2014 Take Two Publishing will be releasing their 4th novel, BETWEEN OCTOBERS by A.R. Rivera. To celebrate its release, they are giving one lucky reader a paperback copy. Enter to win at the bottom of this post. Contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Good luck!

About Between Octobers:

Grace Zuniga, a yearling widow, is convinced she could never fall in love again. She has surrendered to her quiet life on a quiet street in a world that revolves around her two young sons—until the moment she steps into an elevator.

Evan, also known as Rhys Matthews, is a typical Hollywood playboy. He’s used to women falling all over him, but Grace is different. She makes him believe in love at first sight and in himself. She’s thoughtful, beautiful, and intelligent—the opposite of his usual type and the woman he never knew he always wanted.

It’s an ordinary October day when the two meet in an elevator and embark on a romance that is anything but ordinary.

The following October, Grace is living out a normal day until she suddenly finds herself trapped and struggling to get away from a faceless woman. Terrified, Grace can think of nothing but her motivation—her sons, Evan, all the mistakes she thought she had time to make up for, and a love she will give anything to keep. Stumbling through her bleak circumstances, Grace relives the past year and thinks of all that has happened between Octobers.

Click here to be brought to the BETWEEN OCTOBERS book trailer on Youtube. 

Mark your calendar for June 17th and the release of BETWEEN OCTOBERS. To celebrate, enter to win a paperback copy of this novel by A.R. Rivera.

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What day is it? It’s Hump Day!


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“On Hump Day About Books” Today’s Post: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 What day is it? It’s Wednesday – HUMP DAY! The perfect day to talk books using the new #HumpDayBooks hashtag. Tweet-ready tweets are provided, and if you have news about books to share … Continue reading

What Day Is It? It’s Hump Day!


“On Hump Day About Books”

Julie Valerie’s “Hump Day Books” Post: March 12, 2014

What day is it? It’s Wednesday – HUMP DAY! The perfect day to talk books using the new #HumpDayBooks hashtag.

Let’s Get This Party Started!

March 12th – March 19th = CASH PRIZES
March 26th = LINK PARTY!

Today’s the first Hump Day Books blog post so I’m tossing 30 bucks (US dollars) into the pot to get this party started with two $15 Amazon gift certificates given to one lucky tweeter and one lucky commenter. Next Tuesday (ahead of my Wednesday post), I’m going to try my hand at shooting my first Vine video by shooting two six-second videos of my random drawing for these two $15 cash (Amazon gift card) prizes. Watch for coverage of my Vine video experience – the topic of next week’s Hump Day Books post.

Mark your calendars. On the last Hump Day of every month, I’ll host a Link Party. A Link Party is sometimes called a Blog Party, Blog Hop, Linky (Tools) Party, etc. On that day, stop in to add your name and a post from your blog or website to the Link Party then enjoy Hump Day hopping around in the book-lovers blogosphere, leaving comments and connecting with others.

I’m also hosting a Susan Meissner giveaway – a signed paperback copy of her newly released novel, A Fall of Marigolds, published by Penguin NAL. (Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.) In a moment, I’ll connect you to Anne R. Allen and her post about building your platform through commenting on blogs. Susan Meissner used the comment section of book blogs to run a blog tour giveaway during her recent book launch. You can see how that’s done in a blog post of mine that includes 61 comments about her book. Some of those comments were written by me, the book blogger, but notice in those comments the value of book bloggers continuing to speak about aspects of the book when commenting to readers. If you’re an author featured on a book blog, keep an eye on those comment sections and take part in the book discussion as if you were in the book blogger’s living room discussing your book with a book group. Comment sections are a great marketing venue for authors and I think most book bloggers would agree: they’re a bit “untapped” by authors. Read Anne R. Allen’s blog post and visit Susan’s post on my blog (great book, btw!) to see how Susan ran a giveaway using book blogger comment sections.

So let’s get started. You might want to read first, then go back through to share and click items that interest you. My goal is to connect book lovers with each other and foster conversation.

I hope you enjoy.


I never miss a Sunday post on Anne R. Allen’s award-winning blog. No seriously, I mark my calendar and never miss a post. It’s part of my social media and book marketing weekly “routine”. Having just enhanced my own blog’s comment section with a “commentluv” premium package, this March 9 article: Are You Ignoring This Simple Platform-Building Tool? How to Comment on a Blog  made me shout “Woo-Hoo!” Finally, someone’s writing about the importance of comment sections and the untapped opportunities they present for increasing visibility on Google and other search engines. I run a blog that’s heavily embedded with outgoing links to authors, publishers, booksellers and other book bloggers. “Riding the search engine wave” of a blog like mine is a wise investment of an author’s time. But don’t take my word for it. Read Anne’s article on her blog: “Anne R. Allen’s Blog … with Ruth Harris.” | Facebook | Goodreads | WebsiteFollow @AnneRAllen and @RuthHarrisBooks Tweets for this content can be found at the bottom of this post. |

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Courtney Seiter (content writer at Buffer) caught my attention two weeks ago with this 9 Facebook Changes Social Media Marketers Need to Know article. Number five on her list caused me to ponder (ponder is such a cool word, isn’t it?) the importance of having a great book trailer when marketing to readers through Facebook. If you click on the words ‘book trailer’ in my previous sentence, you’ll find a nifty article by Chuck Sambuchino for Writer’s Digest: How to Make a Book Trailer: 6 Tips. Building on what Anne R. Allen said in her blog post about the value of commenting on blogs – in the comment section of Sambuchino’s article, you’ll find a link to a Jeff Goins book trailer for “Wrecked” that is simple and easy to produce. (Jeff Goins didn’t leave the link – that would be a bit spammy. Someone else did.) See how great comment sections are? Untapped marketing opportunities! I find great nuggets of information in comment sections all the time.

Follow @CourtneySeiter and @ChuckSambuchino | Tweets for this content can be found at the bottom of this post. |

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– Hump Day Book News –

Tweets for this content can be found at the bottom of this post. |

FLNov22BigpaperbackOn BookBub: Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey will make you laugh with gusto, shed a few tears and leave you with a feeling that life is good. Finding Lucas is on BookBub @BookBub today, March 12th, and is only .99! Grab a copy of this critically acclaimed romantic comedy by Samantha Stroh Bailey Amazon | Kobo |  Samantha is also the owner of Perfect Pen Communications, a full service writing, proofreading and editing company that transforms your writing into a superbly polished piece. She is a published author, journalist and former English teacher with over 15 years of writing and editing experience. She also has a Master of Education in Applied Linguistics. Follow @perfectpen | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog | Website |

a questionable friendshipNew Release in Contemporary Women’s Fiction: A Questionable Friendship by Samantha March explores what really makes someone a true friend, a support system, a sister. How much trust goes into a friendship and when is being a friend not enough? Brynne and Portland’s story will attempt to answer those questions, and show that happily ever after isn’t in the cards for everyone. | Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, and blogger. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus. Authors interested in booking a blog tour (or virtual tour) for their book go here: CLPBlogTours | Samantha owns an independent publishing company Marching Ink and has three published novels: Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship. | Follow @Chicklitplus  | Facebook | Goodreads | Website |

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UK author Emma Garcia’s first novel, Never Google Heartbreak, releases in the States this month by publisher Bookouture. What’s a girl to do when even the Internet doesn’t have the answer? Loosely based on the author’s own experiences of being in her thirties and single in London, of being dumped, getting over it, falling in love and getting married. | Mark it “Want to Read” on Goodreads. | Releasing June 2014 in the UK, mark Emma’s second book: OMG BABY! | Follow @EmzaGarcia | About Bookouture ( Digital imprint offering big publisher expertise, small publisher flexibility and great royalties. Submission guidelines here. Follow @bookouture |

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Raj_cover0923Newly Released: The Absolute Being of Nothingness by Glenice Raj is a story of a single, dizzy yet lovable woman Gwendolyn, who tries valiantly to make a success of her professional and love life, yet her penchant for getting into trouble leads her into a comic absolutely mental merry little dance. Published by Tate Publishing, a Christian-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors. Follow @TatePublishing. Go here for Tate Publishing submission guidelines.  | Follow @gleniceraj | Facebook | Add this book to your Goodreads shelf | Website |

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Book Blitz - Deadly Bloodlines

Author of For the Love of Jazz, Elke Feuer, born and raised on Grand Cayman, helps other writers in Cayman through her organization CayWritersDeadly Bloodlines, book one in her Deadly Series is scheduled for release in March 2014. Elke is on tour March 13-15. Enter to win a copy of Elke’s first book, For the Love of Jazz by visiting her website. | Follow @ElkeFeuer | Facebook | Goodreads | Website |


Fire up those Social Media Dashboards!

I love Social Media Management Dashboards. You can schedule tweets to release throughout the day, whether you’re at your computer or not. Copy and paste these tweets into your HootSuite, TweetDeck or Buffer dashboards. Tweets with the hashtag #HumpDayBooks will receive extra attention every Wednesday.

Don’t use HootSuite, TweetDeck or Buffer? What do you use? Tell us in the comment section and then link your comment to your Twitter account. Through commentluv (notice the red blog button on my right sidebar?) even your most recent posts can appear next to your comments.

Tweet-Ready Tweets
(Simply copy and paste!)

Are You Ignoring This Simple Platform-Building Tool? @AnneRAllen @RuthHarrisBooks #HumpDayBooks

9 Facebook Changes Social Media Marketers Need to Know @Buffer @CourtneySeiter @Julie_Valerie

How to Make a #BookTrailer: 6 Tips #HumpDayBooks @ChuckSambuchino

Laugh-out-loud funny, Finding Lucas is on @BookBub and only. 99! #chicklit #kindle #kobo @perfectpen

New Release #Contemporary #WomensFic: A Questionable Friendship by @ChickLitPlus #HumpDayBooks

UK author Emma Garcia’s 1st #romance #novel releasing in States #HumpDayBooks @EmzaGarcia @Julie_Valerie

New #Chicklit: The Absolute Being of Nothingness @GleniceRaj #HumpDayBooks

Book Blitz March 13-15 for @ElkeFeuer! #HumpDayBooks

Author @SusanMeissner the featured author on #HumpDayBooks. SIGNED COPY @Julie_Valerie

Leave a comment!

I’m now a premium user of “commentluv” – so commenters to this blog post can link their comments to their own Twitter handle and have a list of their recent blog posts appear next to their comments.

Let’s get connected.

That’s the idea behind this whole Hump Day effort.

Interested in setting up commentluv on your website? Click on the red blog button on the right sidebar of my blog and you’ll zoom right over to their website.

Hold up. Don’t leave now.


Cash Prizes (drawing for two Amazon gift cards) for those who comment and tweet now through next Tuesday.

Awesome “Hump Day Books” signed book giveaway below.


Thanks for reading. Happy Hump Day!


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