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Can I have a subtitle contest?
March 5, 2014 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I wonder if it's okay to have a contest where I ask people to suggest possible subtitles for a book I'm writing. I would give the winner a prize, like send them some food from a mail-order place or something (haven't thought that part through yet because first I want to know if this is a verboten thing to do or not). If it's okay, would I post this contest on Projects? or where? I didn't contact staff because I thought this would maybe not be a hardwired policy question. Thank you for feedback.
posted by DMelanogaster to Etiquette/Policy at 3:02 PM (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'd just ask it over on Ask, skip the prize thing and you can send someone a fruit basket if you want to but not as an incentive, if that makes sense?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:05 PM on March 5


It makes sense, but it makes me feel bad. I want people to know that, if you're going to think about my book at all, I will be appreciating it materially at least in some nice way. Otherwise I feel like an idea leech.

But if you say so...
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:08 PM on March 5


Well the big deal is you can't give out prizes really in AskMe, so that won't work there if you want to remunerate people for giving you a great title. So it might work for Projects but that's really for finished stuff and contests don't quite fit in there. So I'd like to find a way for you to do what you want, but within the general guidelines of what flies here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:24 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


It makes sense, but it makes me feel bad. I want people to know that, if you're going to think about my book at all, I will be appreciating it materially at least in some nice way. Otherwise I feel like an idea leech.

You're not an idea leech if you offer the person who suggests the title you like some kind of remuneration after the fact. People make suggestions for free all the time here with no expectation of payment. I'm sure some may decline and other will be pleasantly surprised if they got a MeMail from you offering this. Consider it a nice surprise.

Good luck with your book!
posted by inturnaround at 3:29 PM on March 5


Yeah, don't sweat being an idea leech. Ideas grow the more you share them and generally people love doing so on AskMe, so go for it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:35 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


": an eclectic physiognomy of the soul of [topic]"

There. Send me chocolate chip cookies.
posted by cashman at 3:36 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


You could post the entire text of the work, and wait for someone to post a "Metafilter:"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:37 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Would it work in Jobs?
posted by edgeways at 4:07 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


": Plus some drawings of wangs."
posted by klangklangston at 4:22 PM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Anyone who offers you ideas is doing so because they have extra ideas. Some people here are so chock full ideas that every time they open their mouth, a torrent of ideas streams forth.
posted by aubilenon at 5:28 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


One ______'s tale of triumph over adversity

A Memoir in Seventeen Parts

With Helpful Illustrations, Chartograms, &c

As Dictated to Lord Haig
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:43 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


How an x changed the y
posted by box at 5:59 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


A Book of Clever Subtitles
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:00 PM on March 5


"Or, Scylla and Chlamydia."
"The Sale of Two Titties."
"A Gentleman's Adventures in a Hoboken A&P."
"The True Story of Amelia Earhart."
"A Breakfast in Two Parts, Including Scones."
"Or, Why my Neighbor is a Total Asshole."
"How Malcom Gladwell and Steven Leavitt Stole my Idea."
posted by klangklangston at 6:00 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


"A Graphic Tale of a Dog Pulling Off Her Own Giant Scab"
posted by item at 6:03 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


A gripping tour de force
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:04 PM on March 5


A young woman's erotic journey to Minsk
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:05 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


"As Dictated to Hitler."
"From Near-Beer to Near Bear."
"I Spent a Lot of Time on This."
"The Unauthorized Hug-ography."
"Subtitles are for Schmucks."
"subhead tk"
"One Weird Trick for Getting People to Buy Your Book."
"Includes Pretty Much Every Picture of Dolph Lundgren."
"Good for Leveling Tables and Benches."
"Books Have Words You Read Them."
"Less Fun Than Katamari."
"You Wouldn't Download a Book."
"Loosely Based on a Dream About Tom Clancy."
"Soon to be a Major Motion Picture!"

what do I win?
posted by klangklangston at 6:06 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Updated & revised edition, with foreword by Bill Murray
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:08 PM on March 5


"$title 2: Electric Boogaloo"
posted by kaibutsu at 6:15 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


$title 3: the en$titleening
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:18 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


"A Tale of My Escape from the Gulag"
"Banned in 68 Countries"
"Straight from the Horse's Mouth"
"A Deadly Love Triangle"
"They're All Dead and I Got the Last Bottle of Booze"
"Every Woman You Sleep with will Thank You for Reading this Book"
posted by double block and bleed at 6:31 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


$title 4: $title in space
posted by kaibutsu at 6:50 PM on March 5


$title 5: Son of $title
posted by Rock Steady at 8:00 PM on March 5


Mail Order Bride Fraud
posted by Pudhoho at 8:16 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Oops! A subtitle...

Eaten By Rats
posted by Pudhoho at 8:28 PM on March 5


": One Weird Trick"
posted by carsonb at 8:55 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I Am Not A Merry Man: The Worf Story
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:22 PM on March 5 [11 favorites]


Well. Sometimes timing is uncanny, ya know?

My schoolkid daughter wanted a funky business name. Just for fun... she's 15, she does arty stuff in her spare time, we kicked around a few ideas, nothing gelled, so I asked Metafilter.

The perfect name was suggested, and my daughter jumped on it. As a surprise thank-you gift, my daughter created a custom-made bag based on the username of the member who suggested it.

The bag finally landed in Scotland (we're in Australia) today/yesterday/whatever-day-it-is-on-the-other-side-of-the-planet. And it would appear that the lovely Penguin Pie was thrilled with it.

TL:DR - don't offer a prize upfront, pick the best answer and then mefimail them begging for their address, assuring them you are not a stalker, and send the prize. (I don't know who is happier with our outcome, me, DisGraceful Designs, or Penguin Pie.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:28 AM on March 6 [9 favorites]


"As subtitled by the MetaFilter Hivemind" would be appropriately meta I think.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:05 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


If it's a popular history/science/biography, it's going to be "The hyperbole that kept the book off the remainders table an extra month" by the time your publisher is done with it.
posted by pracowity at 4:32 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Is there any way that you could have the printer randomly print a subtitle with each printing from the complete list created by the hive?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:49 AM on March 6


If my subtitle is chosen, I would prefer not a tangible reward, but a shoutout in the foreward or where you thank you family and friends for putting up with you for the 3 years it took to write your book.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:16 AM on March 6


10th Regiment, that's called Variable Print On Demand (VPOD) and is much in use in the business world (e.g when you get your little book outlining all your insurance policies from your provider, you're going to get the bits relevant to you; whoever's next door gets a slightly different version, but they're both coming out of the same print run). I'm disconnected from that world now, but even then I never heard of VPOD being used for retail consumption.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:17 AM on March 6


: An Even More Heartbreaking Work of Even More Staggering Genius
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:19 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


: I won a fruit basket
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:21 AM on March 6


: Good to Read While You Poop!
: Good Enough to Be Assigned to all Your Freshman Classes
: Understanding Why Some Pages Taste Like Cheese
: Darth's His Father
: The Untold Story of a Father's Love and a Daughter's Discovery
: Pretty Much the Best Book Ever
: Or Why Readers Buy Based on Subtitles
: Herman Melville and my Crippling Opium Addiction
: Turn to Page 245 for the Naughty Bits
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on March 6


MetaFilter: wait for someone to post a "Metafilter:"
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:08 AM on March 6


: Boston vs Custard and Why Not
: Made from 50% recycled ideas
: A harrowing tale of lost socks
: PDF available on Piratebay
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:16 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: By MetaFilter's Own®
: Understanding the cognitive dissonance of psychotherapeutic beatings
: A framework for contemplating post-contemporary deconstruction
: Towards a better lubricated tomorrow
: A plan for invading Seeland
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:20 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: Exploring the relationship between Pre-raphaelite tenets and vegetarian ethics
: The Hegemony of Defeat
: Reconfiguring Consumerist Fetishism
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:22 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: Based on the Blog
: Now You Can Be Internet Famous Too!
: Revised, Edited and Contradictory Edition
: Taste It All
: A Romantic Treasury
: Excellent Source of Vitamin C In Each Serving
: Billing Notice Enclosed Please Open Immediately
: Phrases and Inspiration From the Littered Desk of [AUTHOR]
: They Said I Needed A Subtitle
: Inspected by 86
: Remove Before Washing
posted by carsonb at 11:34 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


"A Memoir in Seventeen Parts"

I read this as "A Memoir in Seventeen Pants"
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:13 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


"My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts"
posted by timsteil at 12:17 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


You send the winner a banana. Fruit flies like a banana.
posted by maryr at 12:26 PM on March 6


: identified identities and contested contestations in (a) virtual space(s)

(Turn of the century Routledge-stylee) or

:why I'm right, you're wrong, and everyone else is Satan

(Ann Coulter/Glen Beck-stylee)

By the by, I've always wanted Michael Gerson to write a memoir titled My Life As A Ghost For Bush. Not that I'd read it, but I would admire the title from afar.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:37 PM on March 6


You send the winner a banana. Fruit flies like a banana.

Yes, but literary gadflies like, well, gads I suppose.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:44 PM on March 6


: You'll laugh, you'll cry, it'll change your life
: Based on an astonishing Daily Mail story
: With 20 edible appendices
: Flesch Reading Ease: 17,852
: A Walmart exclusive
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 1:24 PM on March 6


This would be a lot easier if we knew the title of what we're subtitling.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:11 PM on March 6


: You'll Never Make it to the Exit
: I Got Mine, Jack
: A Simple Guide to Swedish Verb Conjugations
: Dumpster Diving for Fun and Profit
: Bedazzle Your Jacket in 68 Easy Steps
: $20, Same as in Town
posted by double block and bleed at 3:17 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


What Happened Next Will Astound You!
posted by Pudhoho at 3:24 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


This would be a lot easier if we knew the title of what we're subtitling.

But not nearly as much fun as just making shit up.

ps

: Shit I Just Made Up
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:47 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: Leveraging Your Meatspace Social Network
: An Expert's Guide to Admiralty Law
: Win the Lottery, Guaranteed!
: Easy Spells for the Young Witch or Warlock
: Learning Ordinance Disposal the Quick and Easy Way
: Candling Cured My Cat -- Can it Cure Yours?
posted by double block and bleed at 5:30 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: The Best of Garfield's Mondays
: Guitar Tabs for Every System of a Down Song
: How Magnets Work
: The Infallible Guide to Dating a Pope
: We Herd U Liek Mudkips
: Why No One Will Ever Love You
: Made You Look
: Why You Never Have to Wear Anything but Chinos Ever Again
: The Definitive Woody Allen Erotica Collection
posted by klangklangston at 5:34 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


": Win the Lottery, Guaranteed!"

When I was back in Michigan, I stumbled upon what must be the easiest publishing job ever — Lottery strategy guides. They've got a handful of headers about your birthday and other shit (day of the week, what won last time), and it's all just columns of ostensibly random numbers. People were paying three dollars for them — more than a lottery ticket! It's such a weird niche — I assume people can get the same info on the internet — but one that I can't see dying any time soon. (Maybe that's what newspapers need to do: Devote a page to lottery results. They could call it "Stock Quotes" or something.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:38 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


: We Herd U Liek Mudkips

oh holy fuck that just made me feel olllllllllllllllllllllld
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:45 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: Being an Encyclopedia of Divers Eldritch Beasts
: The Heartwarming True Story of Love in a Toll Booth
: Based on a Lifetime Special Movie
: Tea and Crumpets with John Wayne
: A Relentless Investigation into Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar
: A trip across the world's Post-Bieber landscape
: Navigating Life's Storms with Grace and Chocolate
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:01 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


:The Complete, Unabridged Guide to Porn on the Internet
:Comfortable, Flattering Shoes for Any Season
:Writing The Perfect OKCupid Profile
:How I Lost Twenty Pounds in One Week by Watching YouTube Videos
:Three Easy Steps Any Liberal Arts Graduate Can Use to Secure a Rewarding, Fulfilling and Obscenely Financially Lucrative Career Right out of College (with no student loans to repay!)
posted by misha at 6:23 PM on March 6


: The Rituals of al-Ahbagh-Guttiruun, with commentary by Erich von Daniken
: The Collected Works of John Doe
: Help I Am Trapped In A Subtitle Factory
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:46 PM on March 6


:West Coast Style!
posted by jeisme at 6:57 PM on March 6


: How to Train Leeches for Fun and Profit
: A Dialogue Between Wittgenstein and Pee-Wee Herman
: My Life as Whoopi Goldberg's Toe Polisher
: A Guide to the Small Farms of Liechtenstein
: Understanding the Gibson-Temple model of Topological Computation in n-dimensional spaces
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:07 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


: Defenestration for Dummies
: The Nitpicker's Guide to Sliders
: Coca Cola Recipes Declassified
: [quip not found]
: The Official Novelization of Gilligan's Island, by Alan Dean Foster
posted by mordax at 9:56 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


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