Will Readers Buy a Title They Can’t Pronounce or Spell?

In News by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

Riding-Camp-200x300In The Washington Post, Ron Charles poses an interesting question: “Will readers buy a title they can’t pronounce?”

He writes, “The whole time I was working on my review of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls I froze whenever anyone asked me what I was reading. Sometimes, I’d just hold up the book and let them try to pronounce the title themselves. Other times, I’d call it ‘That Riding Camp for Girls Book.”

“The debut author’s name? Forget about it. Anton DiSclafani. A bad speller like me didn’t stand a chance.”

“That got me wondering how publishers evaluate potential titles. Will an unfamiliar word stick in reader’s minds or turn them off? Will a title that’s difficult to pronounce make readers less likely to recommend a book to their friends?”

To get some answers, Charles spoke to the staff at DiSclafani’s publisher, Riverhead Books, to get their input:

Executive editor Sarah McGrath admitted that “I actually spent a weekend last summer trying to come up with possible alternative titles. I couldn’t imagine giving up ‘Riding Camp for Girls,’ so I searched for possible replacements for ‘Yonahlossee…But every alternative lacked what is the true appeal of the original title: its unique sense of an intriguing, specific place.”

For Director of Publicity Jynne Dilling Martin, it wasn’t the book’s title that was the problem: it was the author. “The bigger fear among many of our staff was Anton’s name. Not on is it difficult to spell ‘DiSclafani,’ but worse, ‘Anton’ sounds like a man’s name, and this novel is about a girl’s horse camp. Would female readers trust someone named Anton to tell a sexy teenage girl story?”

Read the entire article here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.