Babypuncher . . . or Why your novel’s Title needs Impact
The entire point of a novel’s title and cover is to do one thing: elicit as much of a reaction and response as possible from a potential reader. Period.
Perfect example: I chose the title of my book ‘Punching Babies: a how-to guide’ for this specific reason. It’s sold tons of copies over the years because people read the title and most of them laugh with curiosity while others get furious or disgusted.
I’ve actually received death threats over that title, as well have received many negative reviews from people who have never even read the book while telling me I should be ashamed of myself for ever insinuating someone to punch a poor, defenseless, adorable, sweet little baby.
Ironically, on its back cover and on its second page is the logline of the book: how to make writing your novel as easy as punching babies!
I even explain in the book why I titled it so, and nowhere in the book do I ever suggest literally punching a baby.
Punching Babies is an obvious twist on the age-old line, ‘Like stealing candy from a baby’, or translation: something very easily accomplished. But that phrase didn’t contain enough impact for me, and I also have a dark sense of humor. So I thought, What’s easier than punching a baby that can’t possibly fight you back? Ah-ha! And my book teaches the aspiring author how to write their novel in just as easy a way . . . though more specifically how to plot it with the greatest of ease (*I’ve since published two more books on this subject, Pen the Sword and On Writing Well, all three of which I recommend to every aspiring author looking to improve their writing craft, especially so their plotting technique).
The first thing a potential reader notices is your book’s cover. Then its title. Then they turn it over and read its back cover blurb. If they’re still curious they may flip through it and read a few passages before deciding to invest their money and time buying and reading it.
So you want your book’s cover and title to have impact.
Stop worrying about offending people because . . . who cares?
If the great tragedy of someone’s life is that they are offended by an author’s book cover and title then I envy them. Though I pity those who actually take the time not to read the book but instead rush to log on to Amazon or another website and proceed to waste their time giving my book a negative review all based upon their pwecious wittle feewings being offended by the title.
It also amuses me they don’t realize that I don’t care.
I have novels to write.
Because losers focus on winners, winners focus on winning.
That’s why I’m continuously publishing novels as an award-winning and best-selling author while they’re sitting at home and wasting their time complaining online about the title of a book they’ve never even read.
As well they’ve forgotten the old adage: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Here are two negative reviews of Punching Babies taken from Amazon as example:
1 star review by ‘Offended’: Title is Offensive!
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2021
“The title of this book is offensive and needs to be removed from Amazon. I can’t shop here knowing that you encourage this kind of talk!”
*note: not only is this person an unverified purchaser (which means they never bought and so most likely also never read my book), but apparently they specifically made their Amazon account, ‘Offended’, just to give my book this negative review).
1 star review by ‘Compulsive Reader’: Desperate for attention
Reviewed in the United States on September 20, 2015
“Man, what is your problem? Was this title really necessary? Are you that desperate for attention?”
*note: also an unverified purchaser of my book, though at least ‘Compulsive Reader’ posted their review from a real account.
Now here are two positive reviews by actual purchasers and readers of my book:
5 star review by ‘Graeme Kent’: A 100 Page Encyclopedia for all Writers.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 13, 2019
“This is a gem of a book for writers at all stages of their development. I would not have believed that so much practical information could be encapsulated in so little space. This is easily the best writers’ guide I have ever read. Buy this book and use it as your essential guide to a novel writing career.”
5 star review by ‘Lee Man’: My new bible!
Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2019
“This book takes all the books I’ve ever learned from and combines them into an easy, concise doctrine with examples from a well known movie. I love how he took elements from the snowflake method, Save the Cat, Dwight Swain’s motivation/reaction units, Joseph Campbell’s Hero Journey and much more and united it with concrete examples from the movie The Matrix. Very well done!”
It warms my writerly heart that both Graeme Kent and Lee Man not only enjoyed my book but that they learned something valuable from it which may help improve their own writing . . . unlike Compulsive Reader and ‘Offended’ who are probably still toiling away upon unfinished drafts of unpublished novels.
Graeme Kent and Lee Man understand not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and I wish them both much success in their writing careers, whereas and ironically Compulsive Reader and ‘Offended’ let the baby swallow down the drain because they couldn’t look past an innocuous book title and so let their oversensitive emotions get the best of them.
I hate to break it to the latter two but if you are so easily offended then pursuing a writing career (a field in which everyone judges your work) is definitely not for you, and I don’t want to be around for the childish outburst when someone is kind enough to critique any of your writing . . . if, that is, you ever finish it while being so busy cutting your own nose off to spite your face.
Sadly we now suffer an entire generation of these easily offended people who were coddled by their enabler parents and raised into blue- or pink-haired Social Justice Whiners that pout because of micro-aggressions which don’t exist and cry whenever anyone looks at them wrong. They run around screaming false accusations of Racist! and Racism! at anyone who dares hold a different opinion than theirs, regardless the subject, in the desperate hopes of canceling them without realizing they are psychologically deflecting from their own racist tendencies on a subconscious level.
News flash: if you see racism everywhere it’s because you are the racist!
The legendary Dee Snider did a wonderful job of pointing out this psychological proof during his 1984 senate hearing when he was brought before congress to explain the ‘offensive and explicit’ music of his rock band Twisted Sister. Al and Tipper Gore claimed to hear horrible and offensive things such as sadomasochism and bondage in Dee’s songs, to which Dee intelligently pointed out that art is subjective and they have those awful thoughts because that’s what they want to hear.
The ensuing torrid roar of silence after Dee’s rebuttal is priceless.
I suggest every writer fondle into Google’s naughty little search engine “How Twisted Sister Outclassed Congress” then watch the short video for a great time and a little lesson on why some people will project their darkest thoughts onto your art regardless no connection involved but for their own private perversions they keep closeted away while blaming your art as the conduit excuse.
Our current Cancel Culture is a plague of bratty children pretending to be adults. They live with their parents into their 30’s and embrace Socialism because they want the government to take care of them after their parents die or finally get tired and kick them out of the basement.
You know what I say?
And so should you when considering the cover and title of your next book.
Make sure they possess impact, because impact is what gains your book attention and potential readers.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time so don’t bother trying. In fact, sometimes it’s fun to go in the opposite direction and feed those Cancel Culture trolls, because they provide you something valuable: free P.R. for your novel with every complaint they make!