Crowdsourcing a book title

DSCN0101Well, I finally have a literary agent who will shop my book to publishers—the book that this blog is based on (or is it the other way around?). Anyway, THIS agent talks to me on the phone (something I didn’t know agents can do), which is a hopeful sign. But now it’s time to decide on a snappy title for the book. A publisher makes the final call, but I should at least have a good working title.

I asked friends for ideas shortly after I started the book, but that was a lifetime ago. I did get some fun ideas back then, which I mixed and matched, producing some of the following...

    Talkin’ Bout My Corporation: Business Lessons From Rock.

    How to Get Your Team to Rock: Business Lessons From Rock’s Rich & Famous

    Your Kid May Know More About Successful Teams Than You Do: Business Lessons From Rock & Roll

    Business Lessons From Rock: The Six Must-Haves of Great Bands & Really Cool Businesses

(Thanks to Bob L, Holly W, and gulliver for your suggestions. Did I leave anyone out?)

But last year, as I mentioned here in an earlier post, I started to consider the possibility of this title: From the Beatles to [fill in the blank]: Business Lessons From Rock. After all, readership on this blog sometimes quadruples when I mention the Beatles. The book discusses many other top bands besides the Fabs, so I knew I needed a second name, preferably a currently performing band to attract Millennials. The challenge would be finding a talented band that belongs in the same sentence as The Beatles in terms of innovation, inspiration, managing conflict, etc.—which is what I look for in business teams. But several readers had good suggestions, which I’m still considering, such as Green Day, Maroon 5, Foo Fighters, and Walk Off The Earth (a great band that isn’t universally known yet).

But more recently I’ve been thinking about The Dixie Chicks, a band of iconoclasts whom I devote a whole chapter to in my book. (Click here for an earlier post on the DCs.) I didn’t think of putting them in the title because I thought they were in semi-retirement. I hadn’t realized (being a provincial American) that they did an extensive tour of Canada in 2013-2014. This band would be perfect in one sense: their defiance in the face of total condemnation from their country music audience after they dared to utter a discouraging word about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 wins them points for audacity, self-determinism, and free-spiritedness—all useful qualities for business teams, especially in the freewheeling world of hi-tech. (I wonder if these uppity Chicks would have received the same backlash if they were guys?) Hopefully they’ll tour again in the next year—and release another record at some point.

So my first idea was:

    Building Successful Teams: From The Beatles to The Dixie Chicks—What Business Can Learn About Innovation, Passion, Purpose, Identity, Conflict, and Independent Thinking from the Great Rock & Roll Bands

But that’s a tad verbose, so at the moment we may go with:

    Building Top Teams: From The Beatles to The Dixie Chicks, the Six Keys to Success from the Great Rock & Roll Bands

If you have something better to offer, I (and my agent) are all eyes and ears. But knowing the artistic sensibilities of my readership I should add: before letting loose with the poetry, remember it IS a business book not a romance novel. The title has to accurately describe its contents. Thanks in advance for your ideas!

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    1. 1. Definitely mention the Beatles
      2. I like the Beatles and Beyond because it doesn't date the book. Hopefully people will still be reading in 10 years after a thousand new bands have been spawned
      3. It might be nice to put another band in there, though preferable one that alliterates -
      Beatles, ________, and Beyond - Business Lessons from Rock
      4. and then have the rest of whatever you want to say in smaller type, not as the regular part of the title. A sub-script. Because a long title feels exhausting, not inviting. You may call me ADD, but I never made to the end of most of the titles you suggested!
      5. And I'd keep the subscript short, too. People are more likely to open a book with a title that piques their interest and leaves a little bit of mystery that can only be solved by actually opening it. Or buying it.

  1. From X to Y implies poles on a continuum or some specific connection or difference between X and Y. How about, instead, clarifying they're just examples?

    Wording like (though much better than)

    Building Top Teams
    Six Keys to Success from Great Rock & Roll Bands
    including The Beatles, The Dixie Chicks, Walk off the Earth, and More

    I realize that's title, subtitle, and description, but we all remember the Doors pulled off an over-6-minute single in 1967. Just following in their footsteps.

  2. There's some obvious song puns: "Rock the Cashflow" or "Rock n' ROCE" but if there's going to be a song title in there, it's got to be a Beatles one hasn't it? "The Long and Winning Road... BLFR" or "Rushing In TO The Pouring Rain... BLFR." Or you could just be sensible and go with "BLFR: What business and music can teach each other about passion, personality and purpose.'

  3. Just played "Nowhere Man" and thought: Why not work in something along the lines of "Nowhere Plans Go Nowhere: What Business Can Learn About Innovation, Passion, Purpose, Identity, Conflict, and Independent Thinking from the Great Rock & Roll Bands."

  4. Geez, most of these—and combinations thereof—have potential. Might present a publisher with a dozen alternative titles.

  5. Was team-building the core component ?

    Building Your Team Like Rock Stars DO:
    Passion, Purpose, Creative Abrasion and Cohesion

  6. Business book titles do often have long names, with 6 winning ways to do this or 12 secret ways to do that, but Malcolm Gladwell has done well with short names, Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers, David & Goliath, but his audience is not restricted to business persons and he starts with a New Yorker writing history. "Business Lessons from Rock" seems to be the essence of your book and might be the right way to begin the title, as Bill Seiden first suggested in your comments. You can stand in Barnes & Noble business books section and read the titles, perhaps. To make your title businessy, you could add a modifier, such as Winning Business Lessons from Rock, or Money-Making Business Lessons From Rock, but you also have to consider your integrity. :-) You're right that if you use names of bands in the title you have to name bands you discuss in the book and also know your target audience. A Court Reporter at a deposition today told me that she was talking to a younger person about the Beatles, the young person said to her, "You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?"

    1. Thanks, Mark. I blogged about Steve's book 3 years ago. I really enjoyed it. There are at least eight books out that make a link between rock and business (nearly all of which have been published since I started writing about the topic on Tom Peters' website many years ago—but that's my bad.) My agent warned me that many more rock/business books have been declined by publishers. But none that I know of focus on team development—and are written by a management consultant who, as a musician, has opened for—and hung with—two dozen R&R Hall of Fame artists. (That would be me.) :-)

      1. Perhaps the subtitle might reflect your personal involvement and experience, which puts you way beyond pundits who merely observe from the sidelines?

        Building Top Teams: Beatles & Beyond
        What I Learned from 4 Decades in Rock & Roll & Management Consulting

        except, y'know, better.

  7. Thanks, everyone. All good ideas. If we get a publisher on the hook we can show them all these variations. They'll make the final call on it.

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