There's a discussion going on on the Dorothy L listserv about puns in titles. It was started by someone who said she hated puns in titles and would never read a book with a pun in the title. This sentiment has been shared by others.
I have puns in my titles, as you can see from the book covers over to your right. They are tattoo shop mysteries, so they play off the word INK.
I did not want puns in my titles, I'll be totally honest here. Puns in titles worried me, because I associated title puns with books about knitting needle toting amateur sleuths who knocked the bad guys over the head with an old copy of Jane Eyre. Having a pun in my book title would mean I was not a serious writer, that the words underneath the cover would be fluffy and light.
I write tattoo shop mysteries. They are not fluffy and light. They have an edge to them, and I felt the titles should reflect that.
I sent 50 title suggestions to my editor when I wrote the first one. I even had First Offenders readers make suggestions. I got some good ones, too, and none of them were puns. My editor hated them all. Every. Last. One. I was almost done with the book and it had no title. My husband then made a suggestion: THE MISSING INK. It was so stupid I knew my publisher would love it. They did. And there I was, writing a book with a pun in the title.
But you know, that book isn't any different than the one with the title WHAT DIES IN VEGAS. It's the exact same book, but with a different title. It's still a little edgy, and it still has murder.
There are other mysteries out there with puns that are remarkably good. For example, Julie Hyzy writes fabulous books about a White House chef who solves crimes, with titles like EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS and HAIL TO THE CHEF. Roberta Isleib's golf mystery series have titles like FINAL FORE and SIX STROKES UNDER. And Kate Carlisle's bibliophile mysteries are titles HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER and IF BOOKS COULD KILL.
So I ask you to keep an open mind. The publisher wants the puns because they think they can sell more books. It doesn't have to be a reflection on what's between the pages.
Are you an anti-pun snob? And if you aren't, what's the best book title pun you've seen?