On Lawn Mowing and Book Titles

This isn’t my neighbor’s lawn mower, it’s just what it sounds like in my head

In a crazy twist, today my concentration is interrupted by a neighbor mowing her lawn….apparently endlessly. Why a crazy twist? Because my last posting was about snow (less than a week ago!), and now we’re into lawn mowing season.

So, instead of revising the last 1000 or so words of my WIP, I find myself nursing a headache, looking desperately for noise-canceling headphones, and thinking up a new title for my book (my working title, soon to be a querying title, is…well… not working).

As I was contemplating and making lists of alternative titles, I came across a very cool website that analyzes a book’s title. In fact it claims to be able to tell you the likelihood a title “has what it takes for bestseller success.”

The program, developed by a statistician, looked at 50 years of New York Times Bestseller novel titles and compared them to less successful titles by the same authors. According to the website, the program is successful in 70% of cases they tried.

Here’s one of the best things about the “LuluTitlescorer”: you need to enter grammar and parts-of-sentence information about your title. Thus you get two things in one: a fun grammar refresher AND a title scorer.

Once you enter the title and all the requested variables, you click on “Analyze My Title,” and voila it tells you the chance between 9% and 83% that your book’s title will fit bestseller success!!

For me, the four I tried were 10%, 26%, 44% and 69%. Pretty decent odds… just one more piece of information as I zero-in on a title. And something for me to think about while I finish the revisions, because—hallelujah—the mowing just stopped!

Here’s the link to the LuluTitlescorer! If you try it, I’d love to know how your title(s) fare… so come back and tell me!




  1. Oh my gosh… I have to do this! And I must know which ones got the 10, 26, 44 and 69 percents! Thanks so much for sharing. Illuminating, and I’ll try it out too.

  2. Okay, Julia, against my better judgment — because I am totally in love with my book title — I entered BABY GRAND into the LuLu best-seller decider (or whatever it’s called). I was unsure how to answer a few questions, because my title means so many things, but I trudged along and got a 26.3 percent rating. I figured, ‘Oh, well,’ but then I went back and changed a few of my answers to the questions and got a 69.0%. LOL! I guess all that matters in the end is if YOU love the title of your book. Just like I feel you shouldn’t chase the trends of publishing (vampires, erotica, etc.), so should you not chase the magic best-seller title formula. 🙂 Thanks for posting! It was fun!

  3. I’m with Melissa – curious to know which of your titles scored which points!

    The caption on your photo was hilarious! And I can totally relate. We live next door to an older couple whose 50-year-old son still lives at home. (Yes, you read that age correctly.) It’s obvious that yard chores are one of the duties he’s supposed to perform to keep his privileges – bcuz when he doesn’t, that’s when the old dad starts yelling. Sonny Boy seems to love to do this in the most obnoxious ways possible.

    Such as, clearing the driveway at 11 p.m. or later with the snowblower from hell (their driveway is right next to my bedroom window). Power-washing the roof in the middle of the night. Even mowing the yard after dark. Incessantly. Like your neighbor, it seems to take him DAYS to finish one suburban-sized yard.

    I really feel for you, trying to work on your WIP with all that noise pollution. My neighbor always knows EXACTLY when I’m about to work on something important. ;~)

  4. Wow, how cool. I know what is going to be taking up my time tonight! Thanks for the link!

  5. Hee hee! Love that Julia – have just done my current novel WIP title and it said 35.9% – don’t intend to change it though! What a fab idea though! Hope you are headache free now, and also hope you’ve come up with a good new title for your WIP. Lovely post Julia!

  6. What a fun link.I’m going to pass this on to all my writing friends, so they can be distracted from their writing today. LOL!

    I’m not sure if I answered all the questions correctly, but Sword of Mordrey got a 69%.

  7. Nancy Kelley says:

    The title scorer is tons of fun. His Good Opinion ranks at 61.1% chance of being a best seller. Does that mean I owe some of my success to the title?

    I can definitely sympathize with you regarding the noise. The maintenance crew at my apartment must know exactly when I have time to write, because that’s when they start with the leaf-blowers.

  8. Ann says:

    I’ve never heard of a title scorer…that is SO cool! I’m not writing a book, but I pulled a title out of my head and tested it – it gave it 55%! Second Wife, First Love was what I chose….what can I say? I dig romance books!

  9. Melissa, It’s a fun exercise, isn’t it? I’m so curious about your titles too!

    Dina, I do love my (original, working) book title, but got some advice to change it to something more evocative and “grabbing.” I think I’ve done that. And I love the new title, too… so as you say, that’s what’s important: to feel satisfied in yourself as a writer!

    Milli, Those late night lawn/snow clearers… eek that would drive me CRAZY!! It is just so amazing to me that someone would care so much — of course MEH and I? We’re not really the impeccable yard types, and that’s something that can drive the incessant-workers EQUALLY crazy. To each his own (as long as it’s QUIET!) I say. 🙂

    Christina, Glad you enjoyed the link, and hope you had fun with it! Thanks for your comment and your visit to my blog!

  10. Abi, 35.9% is really great!! My newest title is coming in at 41% — and I think I’ll leave it as is, at least for now. I’m sure (if/when published) it will go through another consideration! Yes, headache gone this bright day AND more importantly no outside noise, KNOCK WOOD!!

    Cynthia, Yes, a fun link (not as fun as write like a man/woman, though, hahaha!). Hope your writer friends had lots of fun. And that is AWESOME about the Sword of Mordrey! Very cool!!

    Nancy, 61.1% is amazing!! I’m not sure the success is due to a title, but I’m thinking it certainly can’t hurt in marketing, and for a self pubbed book, maybe even moreso? (so glad you’re enjoying success, by the way!!) Glad to say, no noise today, BUT I know the leaf blowers will be out soon 🙁

    Ann, Okay, you are OFFICIALLY HIRED as my new title person. I LOVE Second Wife, First Love! And although my book isn’t strictly a romance book, it does have a big dose of love in it, and I don’t think it will disappoint you in the romance department 🙂

  11. What fun, Julia! I ran my WIP title through the questionnaire and it has a 44.9% chance. Whoo-hoo!

    I live in Brooklyn, so quiet is a relative term. 🙂 Lawn mower? Bring it on!

  12. Emma Pass says:

    Great post, Julia! My book title is 44% – absolutely no question of changing it, though, so I guess I’ll just have to live with that. 😉

    Sorry to hear about your trial-by-lawnmower – hope it’s stopped now and you’re able to get on with some writing again!

  13. Jackie, 44.9% is SO great!! My newest title is at 41% and I’m very happy with that…. much happier than I am with the proliferation of lawn mowing. Today, mower #2! I’m sending them to your neighborhood 😉

    Emma, I think 44% is great!! My first one I tried was just 10%…. combine that with my chance as a debut novelist making it onto the bestseller list? Bad news 😉 Your title is so unique (and I love it) that I don’t think you need a program to predict success! It’s going to do so well!!

  14. This was fun, Julia! I ran two WiPs titles through it and got 69.9% for the first and 42% for the second. Not bad!

    I’m SO excited for you that you’re on the last 1000 words! You’re so close 🙂

  15. Natalia, That’s so great!! 69.9!!! Wonderful!! So much better than not bad! (And 42% is better than not bad, too!!) As for the last 1000 words, it’s a thrill… and it’s so very very close to what I want it to be. Now I can hardly wait for the next step!! Thanks for cheering me on! 🙂

  16. CMSmith says:

    Don’t forget to google the title too (you probably already know this).

    I did that and found a song with my book title, but I went ahead and used it anyway because it was very meaningful to me. (And I never expected or dared hope for best-seller status). ]

    Unfortunately, every person and their brother uses the phrase “Dancing in Heaven” in obituaries. I had no idea. I get a constant stream in my Google Alerts.

    You are getting so close. It’s very exciting.

  17. CMSmith says:

    I boosted my courage and put Dancing in Heaven in – only 20%. But Dancing in Heaven — a sister’s memoir is 55.4%.

    Thanks for the link. It was fun.

  18. Dorette says:

    How cool!!! Well, it is fun to see these calculations. Julia, thanks for sharing it! My first novel didn’t score as high, but my WIP scored a 69% – and made me wonder what gets a score in the 90’s? I entered some best seller titles to see how they fared. Anyone else?

  19. I hope that law mower has stopped! Just curious, is the title that received a 69% rating your favorite one?

  20. So cool!!! I love coming up with titles. It’s the other 80,000 I find way more tedious. 😉

  21. So cool!!! I love coming up with titles. It’s the other 80,000 I find way more tedious. 😉

  22. Fun! My WIP title got a 69%, so I guess that’s a good sign. Now if I can just nudge the rest of the WIP into that statistic…

  23. Christine, Wow, 55.4% is awesome!! Woohoo! I agree, a fun link — I also googled the title I’m using and there’s no book (or anything) with that title. We shall see what the future holds; for now I’m just hoping for an agent! 🙂

    Dorette, That is IMPRESSIVE at 69%!! I also wondered about 90-percenters and will definitely go back and try some, great idea! Thanks so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog!!

    Jen, Yes, the lawn mower has stopped (and started back and then stopped again… sigh). As it turns out, the title I’m using is a 41% one… but that’s okay, it’s got other things going for it! 🙂

    Nina, Ah-ha, the novel naming gene must go along with the baby-naming one — you love picking names, that’s right!! But as you say, there are the other 80K words… 😉

    Tracy, 69% is impressive!! Excellent! And I’m with you, I need to figure out a way to nudge the whole WIP to the same level, too… let me know when you figure that one out 🙂 Thanks for your comment and for your visit to my blog!

  24. That’s a fun tool. I might see how my stalled novel’s title would do. And on the bothersome lawnmower noise. My thing is the blowers. The make me crazy…..

  25. JM Merchant says:

    The Pirate’s Daughter got 39.5…but my grammar is very rusty so it may change once I’ve brushed up a bit. But I’m not changing the title either 😀

  26. Jamie, Argh, blowers are the worst — after the lawnmower? Yep, the blowers were out too…. then I was really at my wit’s end… Let me know how your novel’s title does!

    Jo, I LOVE your title so much. That grammar part really is challenging, isn’t it? I had to look a couple things up, yikes. 39.5% is great! I wouldn’t change the title, either. So cool!

  27. Linda Hoye says:

    What a fun site! My book title didn’t fare so well–10%. Ah well….I’m not intending it to be a best seller anyway.

    By the way, here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve been waffling between snow, rain, and warm weather too. My poor daffodils are so confused!

    • It’s such a fun site, I agree — I’ve tried a lot of different titles — and although my current WIP’s new title is at 41% chance, my next is at only 20%… just one more piece of the puzzle. Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog! (p.s. We FINALLY have our first daffodil blooming — just this morning, so agreed, confusing and weird weather on this coast, too!)

  28. Lisa ahn says:

    Woot! I just put in my title and got a 72.5% chance of having a best seller. Do you think it will help if I put that in my query letters, ’cause I’m in double-digit rejections and needing some sort of magic potion!

  29. Lisa, 72.5% chance is AMAZING!! I think the title I’ve settled on is a 41%-er, so we shall see…. hmmmm…. And about putting it in the query letters? It’s never been in any of the books I’ve seen, but I’m assuming stranger things have been put into SOME queries, right 😉