Book Titles

reprinted from with permission

John Gray's book Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus rode the New York Times best-seller list for seven years and sold 30 million copies worldwide. It also spawned at least 10 sequels, a line of nutritional supplements, a relationship coaching service and countless speaking engagements.

You might be surprised to know that this ultra-catchy book title took years to be born. As Gray tells the story, he was writing and lecturing about the chasm between men and women when a joke cropped up from or with the audience, referring to the opposite sex: "Hey, what planet are they from?"

Gray could have chosen Mercury and Neptune, or Pluto and Earth, to spin the joke out further, but he wisely selected Mars and Venus, gradually developing a fable about misunderstandings between residents of those planets.

Over the next few years, he noticed that every time he told that fable, the hairs on his arms stood up, and the audience responded. So he knew he had something. Still, the concept needed shape and rhythm. Had he settled for Martians and Venutians (or would that be Venusians?) or Mars Maleness, Venus Femaleness, he would probably not have become a best-selling author.

A later title of Gray's, When Mars and Venus Collide, clearly would not have worked to launch his series, because everyone would have thought he was writing about planetary disasters.

He's From Mars and She's From Venus might have been closer to ideal, but that might be taken as commentary on two individuals. It lacks the sweeping generality of what he ended up with.

It's hard to improve upon the balance, boldness and sound of Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus, but this terrific title was years in the making. In today's "in an instant, please" world, we may need to temper our haste. Try to set aside the time for your name or tag line to develop and ripen!

*** Marcia Yudkin, author of 11 books on creative marketing and clear communication, offers naming services at Named at Last.  Go to the site to sign up for her free Name Tales Newsletter.