Sunday, April 8, 2018

Can Titles Be Misleading?

As I said in my last post, I have considered using the "behind bars" analogy in my title, but was worried about how misleading that title might be. Now I'm almost certain I will use that in the title, and was given the suggestion of using a subtitle to explain what the book is about.

This article mentions titles that said to be misleading. I now wonder how many kids assigned to read The Catcher in the Rye were disappointed to learn it's not a book about baseball. Strangely, the article didn't include The Prince of Tides. I can imagine some kids wanting to read that one, thinking it's about a surfer, then fining out otherwise. Titles that seem misleading to some people seem like fodder for gags on TV shows, with a TV character making an assumption about what a book is about just based on its title.

I did a search on Goodreads for titles that contain the phrase "behind bars," and though I couldn't go through every single one, I did manage find some (both novels and memoirs) that had nothing to do with prison. Rather, the phrase was used in reference to bars where people go to drink. Some of these coves are pictured below:

Behind Bars
A Slice Of Life Behind Bars

Behind Bars: The Straight-Up Tales of a Big-City Bartender

The search also turned up this result:

Before I clicked on this one, and before reading the full title, I wondered if this one had to do with braces. 

Though I did not click on every single entry, a glance the list did not produce one book that used "behind bars" in reference to braces. Perhaps I am getting onto something.

Have there ever been any titles that you have found misleading?


  1. Oh yes. And some which made no sense until I was well into the book.

  2. My debut novel--I got complaints from readers that the title was misleading. I called it "To Hunt a Sub" and they wanted it to be based on the sub. For me, it was about the hunt. It did make me think, though.

  3. I read a lot of books and can't figure out how they were titled because the title makes no sense to me.

  4. Picking titles is challenging, but it's also a fun part of the process.

  5. Doing a title search is a great idea, Jamie. Many editors do that.