Clever Titles Do Not Sell Books

I’ve written five books and am about to release my sixth. I never thought Id write one book.

I have had an interesting journey with book titles. Titles are very very very important however as stand alone elements, they don’t sell books. People buy books for a variety of reasons the chief one being a friend who recommends it to you or if the title immediately indicates that the book will solve a problem for you

My friend Paul wrote The Shack, which so far has sold 20 million copies in the past 8 years and been read by at least 100 million other people who were lent a copy by their friend. What does the title say? Not much, but the image on the cover says ‘mystery” inside and that promise along with the incredible word of mouth the book has received has been enough to prompt millions of people to take a chance.

While spending the 2-3 seconds humans typically allot for reflecting on a book title, the subconscious question we’re really asking is “is it worth it?” People’s relationship with time is our fiercest opponent when it comes to motivating them to take a chance on a book. The title can tilt them. All other things being equal, the title is the proverbial toe in the door.

For example I recently read (consumed is more apt) a book titled “Markets of One”. I liked the interplay between the word Markets (plural) with the word One (singular). That title suggested that getting people to buy new ideas, (a topic of great interest to me) really is just as I suspected a highly individualized process. The main title was enhanced by the fore title, “113 million” which I only noticed as my mind scanned the page for other reasons to suggest that this book might satiate my curiosity about human behavior. (Which it did and which is why I now recommend “Markets of One” as one of the most important books I’ve read in the past 5 years)

I offer this as backdrop as to why I’ve decided to stick with the much disputed  for the title for my new book.

My co-author Doug Murren and I have had front row (well… front section) seats in the development of evangelical Christianity over the past 45 years, most of them spent as pastors. Consequently we think we see patterns that explain why our current version of Christianity is uniquely welcoming to bullies and how to put a stop to it. That’s why the subtitle Why The Church Welcomes Bullies and How To Stop It will be prominently displayed. That’s the rational promise we’re making to thousands of religious people who have suffered in silence from religious abuse and feel alone. We are also hoping to “telegraph” a message to our non- religious friends who have watched Christians sit silently by as some of our leaders publicly abuse power and wonder why we allow them to get away with it.

But why the image…? Why not just title the book Question Mark.

(FWIW we do anticipate that QM will be the title people will enter when searching on Amazon or BN)

This is a very relevant and reasonable question, especially given my track record of book sales, which if nothing else has proven that a clever title does not a best seller make. I mean how cool is this title? – The Resignation of Eve what if Adams rib is no longer willing to be the church’s backbone? – that cleverly titled book probably sold fewer than 2000 copies. You know why? Pastors don’t feel threatened (yet) by the promise the book made. As clever as the title is, it’s not clever enough to overcome what James Davison Hunter refers to as “agency” or the role cultural elites play in determining what gets to market and who gets to “see” it.


The ? is clearly (if not cleverly) meant to link the most recent public soap opera involving a religious leader with the topic of religious abuse. Why?

This book was intentionally produced in 90 days so that it could address issues people are feeling in real time. As an author of non-fiction material I detest being told I have to wait 1-2 years for my thoughts to “go public”. The Internet has permanently disrupted that process. Consumers won’t wait because they don’t have to. Not only that, for more and more public thinkers and speakers, books will cease to be the first way people engage with your ideas. That will more likely happen via a blog, YouTube, podcast or even a small “house concert”. In the near future your “books” will be relevant “after” people sample you via another form of media. Your book will not be for people who want to “take a chance” on you but for people who are asking you to “tell me more”. In other words your book will become an adjunct to you rather than an introduction to you. That’s why I intend to produce “90 day books” a line of books that are produced as events transpire so that readers can get a deeper dive into the idea or issue they’re curious about from a person they like and trust. That’s the human process.

The current process we inherited locates that trust in an institution called a “publishing house” which determines that such and such author is worthy of their brand signaling that you can take a chance on them. Now the roles have been reversed. Whatever services publishers ultimately end up providing authors in terms of taking their ideas public are yet to be determined. Publishers that figure out why they should get a percentage of income for services rendered will survive the others will die.

This book was produced in 90 days because during that time the topic of religious bullying has been given historic levels of visibility through very public displays of hubris by Mark Driscoll. Without Driscoll this would be another “me too” book on spiritual abuse.

In our opinion, given the cultural relevance, to not associate the topic of religious bullying with Driscoll would be intellectually dishonest and pastorally irresponsible.

In our book we avail ourselves of the very public record of Driscolls’ fall into grace (our hopeful reframe for him). We are not reticent to call out his abusive patterns since anyone can access them the same way we did using Google. However our larger point is highlighted by the subtitle – the systemic reasons a young man like Driscoll made it to the very top levels of influence in modern day Christianity. Why didn’t his mentors spot his dysfunction earlier in his development? Why are other young men currently being groomed to take his place? Why is the church complicit? Why don’t religious people police themselves rather than waiting for “the world” to notice and then when they do, claim that we’re being persecuted or shooting our wounded?

These are the systemic issues we address but would have no audience for were it not for the actions of one very influential and very ill young man named mark.





17 thoughts on “Clever Titles Do Not Sell Books

  1. Great post. Thank you for sharing your thinking and process.

    You stated that Markets of One is one of the most important books you’ve read in the last 5 years. Can you share a few others that would make your short list?

    I’m looking forward to your book Question Mark.


    Author of soon to be released book: Joyful Journey: Listening To Immanuel

    We (4 authors) wrote it in 3-4 months (depending on how you count) so it would be ready for the conference we will be speaking at.

  2. Sorry

    Just noticed your question

    Other books

    To Sell is Human

    A Failure of Nerve – Edwin Friedman

    To Change The World – James D Hunter

    Question Mark is now available on Amazon

  3. While the spy cameras are undeniably impressive,
    truth be told they may be rather passé, therefore you’ll wish
    to explore some other top wireless spy gadgets. He immediately started work while using advertising agency Dentsû
    and won the Taiyõ Prize in 1964. Best pocket pussy up pussy
    what Be bound to order them in case you don’t have them in your own home already.

    Men will not necessarily will but entering the backdoor is really
    a zoom that will cause extreme pleasure. Pills, capsules, liquids, granules
    and powder (extracts) are available inside the market
    and sold beneath the label of libido enhancer.

  4. The 8900 4, 8 and 16 channel DVR are going to handle up to 4 RCA audio
    inputs on and 1 RCA audio output. As with many different 20th-century technologies, the history
    of Xdh cctv dvr began in WWII-era Germany.

    Cctv dvr email CCTV IP Cameras are the best Solutions for
    Preventing Theft Burglaries as well as a spy camera is frequently utilized to
    adopt videos undetected as surveillance.

    The camera may also be wireless, within this case the camera transmits a signal to some receiver that is connected for the DVR or VCR.

    The best dvr procedure or digital video recording can be be
    sure the high quality with the image is incredibly good.

  5. It enables romantic interactions for teens available just
    the way it is for adults. But it’s advisable to
    abstain on the usage of such creams during menstruation or in the event you have any
    vaginal infections. best pocket pussy am pocket pussy find It was, he advised, “a person’s job, suitable limited to husbands and doctors”.

    Many illnesses might not even be recognized by some for an illness
    which could interfere with someone. The band became touted as “The most hated band in Phoenix history”, in accordance with an article from the Phoenix New Times dated March 7,

  6. These beds produced of pine wood solids develop a more organic appear.

    These beds produced of pine wood solids develop a more organic appear.

    Queen regalo bed rail new frame ikea These beds produced of pine wood solids develop a more organic appear.

    These beds produced of pine wood solids develop a more organic appear.
    These beds produced of pine wood solids develop a more organic

  7. ?Type A is backward compatible with the Single-link DVI (DVI-D,
    DVI-I and not DVI-A) which is popular in computer monitors and graphics
    cards. Numerous buyers claim they’re able to acquire every one of the stations which they want and that they may be
    saving big money of money on satellite and cable charges.
    How to make a hdmi to rca to hdmi cable cable

  8. home security cameras costco security alarms in Phoenix may help safeguard houses by scaring off potential criminals with loud audible alarms
    and window decals placed in very easy to see places.
    Once you’ve determined the explanations why you need to own security window bars, you’ve got to determine the structure suitable for your property.
    Home security cameras connected to computer Installing
    security products and systems is undoubtedly an effective solution to prevent burglary

    We render security services in entire America thus reaching every home and
    providing a good environment on the families. The basic component of a security system is really a trigger that can alert the safety company along
    with the authorities when triggered.

  9. Burglary in houses with CCTV method is far less compared to houses with not.
    If a car is carrying female employees, these vehicle
    CCTV systems might be of great use by giving details of vehicle interiors
    at a point of time. cctv dvr vs nvr dvr with text alert Simply search to get a professional cctv
    installer and obtain the job completed in an easier way.

    Unlike VCRs, DVRs record video to some computer hard drive and other
    media say for example a CD or DVD. A study commissioned by
    UK’s Home office said that the locations CCTV security systems
    are installed, crime rates have come down owing towards
    the surveillance.

  10. This method involves killing the hair by running a power current from the shaft.

    This means if the head of hair is growing down your face, you must drag your razor against your face in an upward manner.
    Electric razor brush Let your husband educate you on how to shave provided,
    obviously, his face hasn’t been ruined by a razor blade.

    Most people might not exactly realize which razor will
    probably be the greatest created for our guys.
    Since alternatives are acquireable, it can be wise to make use of a rechargeable battery operated shaver,
    a wind-up mechanical shaver, or even the old fashioned razor blades.

    ?The capability to handle numerous tasks is said to become
    one in the factors that explains why services supplied by these farms are fast and well-organized.
    third electric razor under 100 Sky News is perceived to own made a very brave move if it plunged head-on for the blogging

  11. Buying a la z boy sleeper sofa may
    be fun, but realizing it does not match your family area can be quite frustrating.
    When unsure, try cleaning a microfiber sofa in a inconspicuous area which has a white cloth before
    trying a alternate cleaning method inside a visible location. In addition, sofa
    beds could be heavier to lug around and if you are purchasing a top
    quality sofa bed, the purchase price is going to be a hefty one.

    You’ll locate the vast majority of sectional sofas with two to three cushions which
    to sit and a cushioned back region. Other versions will include a tailored duvet or
    quilt as a sofa cover, under which your friends and relatives
    can sleep.

  12. As such, you can find many different kinds of recorders available inside market today for
    instance Set-Top Box, Portable Digital Video Recorders, Stand Alone
    Recorder, and such like. Less obvious to be aware what direction your camera is pointing to.
    cctv quezon city japan tsunami This is usually something that a lot of people may make
    wrong using.

    Protection must be comprehensive and will cover all kinds
    of files, computer domains and more which might be vulnerable to fight.
    It could then be accessed having a simple computer and monitor.

  13. Popular Toddler Development Toys: As this is enough time when your son or daughter grows and develops quickly, his requirement is complex.
    Also, you might want to do a rethink on swapping your sex toy together with your partner.
    Nerf are alpha
    trooper With youngsters, you don’t have to spend a whole
    lot of money with regards to buying childrens toys,
    they’ll be happy with almost anything since the world is pretty a novice to them.

    Durable Dog Toys are hard to discover, but you can find options available.
    His cloth made cape is a lovely feature which is quite different from your
    plastic ones which might be usually present in such toys.

  14. While the spy cameras are undeniably impressive, truth be told they may be rather passé, therefore you’ll would like to explore a lot more top
    wireless spy gadgets. Abortion Pill is known as an herbal
    viagra undertaken orally to help you generate abortion caused by way of a shortage continuing
    development of childbearing. How to make a pocket pussy big Porous materials like cyberskin and rubber require
    a little more care as bacteria can hide in the pores.

    You can just use lubrication, or if you would like to get as close alive-like
    as you possibly can, you then can invest in a very pocket vagina.

    Process-1 Soak two sponges with water and wring them out.

    ?A person should never be able to imagine his life without having the daily news.
    Pocket pussy some fleshlight Any The
    key we have found not simply to give them newsworthy tidbits,
    truly be readily available for interviews and questions when others
    normally aren’t.

  15. This happens when toys produced from India and China have tested
    and verified for high lead content. Whenever there’s
    holiday or birthday, parents will buy some toys for the baby
    as being a gift. Nerf Using n force The
    toy military comes together with other war related accessories.

    Children this age will find the toy intriguing instead of frustrating and will benefit through the lessons they teach.
    Many toys such as music bell, plastic toys and vehicle toys all have this problem.

  16. Excellent website you have here but I was curiuous
    if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed
    here? I’d reallly love to be a part of online community where
    I can get advice from other experienced people that share the saame interest.
    If yoou have anny recommendations, please let
    mme know. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *