I don’t know about you, but I am fed up with all of the vulgar book titles, song titles, and TV show names. You might say I am p*ssed off or I think that this type of vulgarity s*cks, but then I would be playing right back into these authors’ hands.

If you know me, I am far from easily offended and have been known to curse with the best of the bunch, but I try to keep it private. And, if I do curse in front of my son, the $.25 fine per instance quickly adds up.

No, what I am talking about are books such as Your Marketing Sucks, or If Women Ruled the World, Sh*T would Get Done, Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life or Kick Ass Copywriting. These are business books written by authors who ostensibly want to be viewed as experts, sell a boatload of books, get paid to speak, and sell other products and services. My take? I think these brand names will backfire and here are my reasons:

  1. It’s a Cheap Attention-Getter – Creating a title with a curse word is as if announcing to the world, “I couldn’t think of any other way to bring attention to my book so I just threw in a four-letter word.” Yikes! And, now, these books no longer stand out because the ploy has been copied too often.
  2. Your Email Will Hit the Spam Filter – I have enough issues trying to ensure that my email and newsletters make it through tough spam filters, and I don’t have any bad words. Imagine how hard it is to ensure that every email that has your book title on it were blocked? Virtually no recipients would ever get your message.
  3. The Media Might Hesitate – Publishing a book is literally like a tree falling in the forest; no one hears about it unless you make a ton of noise. With a funky title, certain family friendly channels, networks, and time slots might quickly take a pass on your interview or book review. Of course, the gamble is that the outrageous title will make up for the lack of official press appearances, but I wouldn’t take that bet.
  4. Your Speaking Gig Potential is Diminished – As the author of DUH! Marketing, I had to correct the perception that I insulted my audience; I can only imagine a meeting planner’s reluctance to book a speaker whose book already contains a four-letter word. Meeting planners are notoriously risk averse; they will not risk their reputation on booking you if they fear you will pepper your talk with foul language.
  5. Corporate America Might Turn Its Back –Authors often speak of consulting as the Holy Grail of Publishing: the secret weapon that opens the door that might otherwise remain locked. With businesses suffering body blows from this economy and purse strings severely tightened, it will be hard to pass the due diligence review with a foul word in your brand name.
  6. It Limits Brand Extensions – Great authors think not only about their current title, but how to successively name the entire series so that it’s clear that all of the books belong to them. Examples include Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jeffrey Gitomer’s color-named series, Little Red Book of Selling, and Little Gold Book of Yes Attitude, and Sue Grafton’s alphabetically named series: A is for Alibi, B is For Burglar, etc. If, after publishing your first book with a vulgar-named title you decide to depart from that strategy, how do you name the second book so that it fits under your brand? The answer: it is extremely difficult. 

My advice? Think long and hard about creating your brand. Naming is to branding as location is to real estate; it is the essential foundation you need to build an empire.

Liz Goodgold, Red Fire Branding