by Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller
If you're an author struggling with the title to your new bestseller-to-be, take a few lessons from the masters.
A book by British newspaper columnist and author Gary Dexter tells the story behind the titles of 50 landmark books. In Why Not Catch-21?, Dexter details the struggle to choose just the right number of catches to arrive at 22. Interesting story! First readers of Utopia by Thomas More thought it was a story of a real place, but there were clues in the title and the storytelling that discerning readers came to understand and that you can learn from. Why did Melville call his groundbreaking work "Moby Dick" instead of just "The Whale"? This and more is spelled out.
The full title of the book is Why Not Catch-21? The Stories Behind the Titles and it fully explains the work. As the preface explains, the book is based on a weekly column Dexter wrote for The Sunday Telegraph called "Title Deed." I want to do some research and see if it's still running, because it provides fascinating insight into how authors think and work, and how books are created.
- Update: I Googled "Title Deed Sunday Telegraph" and although I received several links, all showed truncated results hidden behind "High Beam Research" which requires membership for full review. You will, however, see examples from the column on the Title Deed link above.