The Man with the Lousy Title

GOLDBERG_Iron_On_Badge_FINAL THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE  is by far my most critically-acclaimed book, but the ebook sales aren't as good as I think they could be. My theory is that the clunky title is to blame. So I'm seriously considering retitling the book and coming up with a new cover. The stage play version of the book was called MAPES FOR HIRE, but I'm not wild about that title, either. 

If you've read the book, and have some ideas for a new title, please let me know!



17 thoughts on “The Man with the Lousy Title”

  1. Why not just “THE IRON-ON BADGE”?
    It’s unique and straight to the point and tone of the story, is it not? The Iron-on Badge is my favorite part of the sentence, and I’ve never heard anything quite like it before.

  2. Just be sure to indicate clearly that it’s a new title for a previously released book. A friend of mine (who I think is also a friend of yours) got all sorts of grief from fans when her publisher released her earlier titles with new titles and new covers.

  3. This story belongs to a sub-genre where the Hero starts out wanting more only to realize that he or she already has what is good for them. Other stories in the genre are “Don Quxiote,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Sex and the City 2.”
    In SATC2, Carrie wants more from Big, who just wants to lie on the couch watching TV with her, and when she strives for more she fails and then realizes it’s great to have a man who wants to lie on the couch with her every night. Similarly, Harvey Mapes wants a to be more than a PI and wants a better romance. He comes to realize that his own life is fine and that the girl in his life IS his true romance.
    However, the problem with this sub-genre is that these stories build to an anti-climax. The Hero wants more, but does not get more. Instead, the Hero loses his or her illusions and wakes up to the truth about his own feelings. As a result, the Hero is a person with very mistaken views about himself, and the process he goes through of realizing his own foolishness makes him seem like a bit of a fool.
    Mapes in particular starts off by rejecting the clichés that adhere to his job and his love life only to embrace them as the ultimate fulfillment of his existence. Cliché, he realizes, is truth. The middle class lifestyle ain’t so bad. This woman who cares about him, it’s something special he should appreciate. What was he thinking all this time? So what would be a great title to describe this type of journey?
    I’m not sure. It’s a touch nut to crack. But I am sure the cover of “The Man With The Iron-On Badge” is too graphic. Too much blood. As for a title: “Mapes and Murder in Bel Air” sounds okay, and is a bit provocative, and stimulates curiosity. Who is Mapes? What’s so special about this murder in Bel Air? “I think I’ll download and see”!

  4. I am leaning heavily towards WATCH ME DIE…it feels nice and cheesy in a Gold Medal paperback kind of way. A lot will depend on how MAN WITH.. performs over April. I have some ads for the book running on Kindle Nation, one last gasp to goose the sales under the current title. If it fails, I’ll relaunch with the new title and a new cover.

  5. Are you sure? “Watch Me Die”? Who would want to watch another person die? I don’t want to watch character’s failing and dying, but overcoming and succeeding despite the obstacles. Tragedy as a genre has never been widely popular, except at certain moments in Western Culture like the later Elizabethean Era, say, from 1595 to 1605 AD. Even Shakespeare only wrote four pure tragedies out of about 37 plays.
    Why not inject some real energy into the title? “Mapes and Murder.” “Watch Me Win.” “I Solve the Crime and Find Love.” “Cliches are Life and Death.” “Outside Murder, and Inside.” “Murder Solutions are My Business.” “Think and Solve Murders.”
    Anyway, I’m afraid that if you go with “Watch Me Die,” that’s what’s going to happen: the book will die at the box office! Not something anybody wants to see! But of course you might see it differently!

  6. Lee, I’ll throw in my two cents here and say:
    1. Your titles, and covers, are fine.
    2. Sales a cyclical. They go up and down.
    3. The best way to sell more ebooks is to write new ebooks, not tweak old ebooks. The old ones will sell more copies when you get some new ones live. And if they don’t at first, get MORE new ones live.
    A rising tide lifts all boats.

  7. I like THE $200-A-DAY MAN as a descriptive title but as a librarian I greatly dislike dollar symbols and hyphens.

  8. Have to agree with Konrath. Readers who like your work will read all of it, so the more of it there is to stumble across the more likely they are to discover you. Also, “critically acclaimed” and “most popular” don’t always share the same bed. 🙂


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