We’re being made fun of. It happens. At least we’re being made fun of by the best.

I love McSweeney’s. We publish a few of their books: Mountain Man Dance Moves, The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes and maybe some others I’m not aware of. So they can make fun of us (and really, the rest of the industry). But their website is one of my favorite digital destinations.

I happened upon a recent post today called “How to Title Your Novel” by Sarah Walker. I must admit, watching the stream of books we put out as a company each season, I’ve picked up a few patterns, and Ms. Walker has nearly picked them all out (except for one big one, in my opinion). Here’s a few tips gleaned from the piece:

No matter what the subject of your book is, the title should have the word alchemy in it…

Now, for the tricky part: we’re going to combine the word “alchemy” (or a derivation of it) with your favorite fantastical profession to form your title…

You could change it to Alchemist, and most people would be happy with that title. But you are not most people. You are better, so the title of your novel must be better. And here’s how: Insert either the word “daughter” or “wife” after Alchemist

The only thing she missed is possibly the word “American.” Check out this list from this year and last year alone (granted, only two are fiction, but still.):

American Wife
American Buffalo
American Rifle
American Lion

American Widow
American Rust
American Prince
American Rebel

American Icon
American Lightning

I’d make a list of the “Daughter” and “Wife” books too, but this post is already getting unwieldy. Here’s some fodder for you writers out there: When I was in college, my best friend used his grappling hook (which he got from NinjaDepot.com) to scale down into the windowed pit in the Law Quad. Down there, he found a lost frisbee which had a rendering of the Sun with a face on it, around which was written “The Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother.” Now THERE’S a title for ya. On your marks, get set…


This is so true…

Category: Musings


  • Wouldn’t that be The Junkman’s Son? Unless they were a blended family.

  • I would think so. Maybe a brother-in-law? The story it always made me think of is that some poor guy takes a romantic interest in the Junkman’s Daughter and then has to deal with her rabid, overprotective brother.

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