The secret to having good ideas is having a lot of ideas and discarding the bad ones. Titles have always been difficult for me. Whether for songs (“Out-of-Town Tuna Fish”), albums (Songs from the Zen Baptist Tradition), poems (“Drowning in the Fountain of Eternal Life”), stories (“Let Me Begin Again”) or novels (What Trouble Looks Like), I’ve always agonized over titles. Believe it or not, the above are what was left after I’d thrown out the bad ones.
I’m currently writing a memoir, a thriller and a love story, so I need three good titles.
Here are a hundred-and-one I’ve rejected so far:
1. A Smuggler’s Guide to Body Orifices
2. Changing Your Eye Color with Bleach: A Doctor Speaks Out
3. Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Can Still Leave You Paralyzed
4. Asparagus and Urine: A Scratch-N-Sniff Book
5. The Dummy’s Guide to Counting
6. Change Your Fingerprints and Change Your Plea
7. Cleaning with Fire
8. Dental Problems You Can Cure with Pliers
9. A Child’s Guide to Surgery
10. Calendar Colander: Straining Spaghetti through April and May
11. Christmas Gifts for Your Secret Family
12. Tax Strategies for the Indigent
13. 31 Ways to Attract People
14. 32 Ways to Make People Leave You Alone
15. Ankles: How Many Do You Really Need?
16. A Kid’s Guide to Adultery
17. An Adult’s Guide to Kidnapping
18. Choosing the Right Peanut Butter: A Hollywood Insider’s Guide
19. Your Dreams Determine Your Dreams
20. Diarrhea Diorama: Art Projects Using ALL Your Senses
21. Why All Scorpios are Big Meanies
22. Learn to Read in 31 Days
23. This Hurts Me More Than It’s Hurting You: Suing Your Victim
24. Ex-Boyfriends and Castration: A State-by-State Guide to the Law
25. The Little Golden Book of Arson
26. The Bobbsey Twins and the Lindbergh Baby
27. An Agnostic View of Fish
28. A Book of Common Slayers: Obscure Murderers
29. Toaster Recipes for a Crowd
30. No Little People: How to Stop the Coming Midget Apocalypse
31. Cold Feet: A Guide to Warm Socks and Wedding Wear
32. 101 Euphemisms for Passing Gas
33. Jokes about Foreigners in Their Own Language
34. Ash Trays and Ass Trays: Where to Put Your Butts
35. How Your Imaginary Friends are Out to Get You
36. Where to Go When You Need an Alibi
37. Recipes for Things That Are Not Food
38. Friendship Shouldn’t Hurt: Home Anesthesia
39. Why Just 26?—The Lost Letters of the Alphabet
40. How to Grow Taller Using Just the Items in Your Wife’s Digestive System
41. A Man Walks into a Bar: A Choose Your Own Punchline Book
42. Reading Your Own Entrails
43. Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Life
44. The Dog-Shaped Rug: Let that “Sleeping” Dog Lie!
45. Napster Made Me Do It: 137,671 Songs I’ll Never Listen To
46. The Hardy Boys and The Andrews Sisters: Va-Va-Va-Voom!
47. Downsizing? These 25 Books Will Show You How!
48. Lose Weight through Not Eating
49. Toast Sweat: A Christian Explanation
50. What If Shakespeare Had Been Left-Handed: A Lengthy Thought Experiment
51. Why Does Daddy Cry?
52. What Happened to My Old New Daddy?: Parenthood in an Age of Serial Monogamy
53. Change Your Lightbulbs and Change the World!
54. Tiny House Living on $350,000 a Year: It CAN Be Done
55. Virgin Martini Recipe: How to Make Ice
56. Queen Victoria Never Ate Pasta: The Case Against Globalization
57. It Was Just a Tap: An Emergency Guide to Hiding Bruises
58. Claim Your Last Meal Now!
59. The Idiot’s Guide to Primary Colors
60. No Atheists in Foxholes: Killing the Nonbeliever Combatant
61. Fried Clams Were Not Served at the Last Supper
62. Things to Do When You’re Trapped in a Hole
63. Jesus and Vegas: A Believer’s Guide to Card Counting
64. Don’t Be So Sensitive: A Conservative Guide to Race Relations
65. YIKES: 27 Things to Be Afraid of
66. A History of Flashlights
67. Ali Baba Alibi: If 40 Thieves Got Away, You Can Too!
68. The Snickers without a Toothbrush Diet: Lose Weight Through Losing Your Teeth!
69. What Do You and Daddy Do at Night?—A Pop-Up Book
70. An Illiterates Guide to Tarot Reading
71. Don’t You Want Me Baby: Songs You Only Know the Chorus To
72. If I’d Only Known: Partial Prophecies and Predictions
73. You’ve Got to Understand: A Liberal’s Guide to Recovering from a Mugging
74. I Want Your Used Q-Tips!
75. Some Things to Hide in Your Socks
76. Kissing Your Sister: Stop at First Base!
77. Time Travel Tips for Ghosts
78. Unsolvable: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Bugs Meany’s Disappearance
79. Rabbit’s Feet are Only the Beginning: Talismans Made from Pets!
80. Butt Pimples or Messages from Beyond? A Connect the Dots Book
81. Satan and Satin: Trading Your Soul for Comfortable Sheets
82. Songs That Can’t Be Hummed
83. Cake Decorating and the First Amendment: Is Your Baker Liable for Libel?
84. Drink Your Way to Sobriety!
85. Things You Can Accomplish without Leaving Your Chair
86. A People’s History of People’s Histories
87. Things to Make You Feel Old
88. Feeling Bad? Buy This Book!
89. Untraceable Wedding Day Pranks
90. Feeling Good? Buy This Book!
91. Fighting Fliers with Fliers: Combat on Your Laundromat Bulletin Board
92. Feeling Meh? Buy This Book!
93. How to Tell if Your Dog is a Democrat
94. Ampucoffee: How to Get off Caffeine for Good
95. Our Bodies, Our Shelves: Home Decorating with Surgical Waste
96. Home Tongue Repair
97. Acid Flashbacks as a Legal Defense: Walls Melt and So Do Jailhouse Bars
98. “In My Day” and Other Phrases to Repel Teenagers
99. It’s Not Murder if He Survives: Home ICU Construction
100. Plot Summaries of Famous Paintings
101.Battle of the Elmers, Volume 1: Fudd vs. Gantry