Harry Potter and the Publicist’s Dream

The earth-shattering news flashed around the world last week – I’m sure you saw it. At last we know the title of the seventh, and last, Harry Potter book. I had guessed that it would be called “Harry Potter and the ... Something.” Call it intuition, call it a gift, call it a prophecy, call it blind, dumb luck. But sure enough, the last book will be called “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which means I got more than half of the title right without even trying. And I’m not even a Harry Potter expert.

This breaking news was announced on CNN every 20 minutes, it made the nightly news on the major networks and it was all over the Internet and the talk shows. I also released the title of my new book last week, but CNN didn’t seem to care a bit. NBC told me to get lost, ABC told me to drop dead, CBS said “never call here again!”

Now, I haven’t actually written a new book, but I have written a new book title. And it didn’t take as long as you’d think. Maybe a minute or two. I’m surprised more people don’t write book titles. If your title gets enough publicity, then you might even want to write the book that goes with it. Or maybe it’s wiser to write three or four popular titles before you actually write a book.

My latest title is “She Said, ‘Shut Up!’” It’s part of a series of titles I’ve written about being married, including such potential best sellers as “She Said, ‘Stop Yelling at the TV!’” and “She Said, ‘It’s Right Below The Toothpaste.’”

A lot of people ask me where I get all my ideas? Sometimes they hit me in the middle of the night. Like the title for “She Said, ‘I’m Not the Bathroom Cleaning Fairy.’”

As you might have guessed, I am insanely jealous of J.K. Rowling, the woman who writes all the wildly successful Harry Potter books. They say she is now the richest woman in England, richer than the Queen. I have nothing against being rich. Let’s face it, it doesn’t take any talent to be poor, almost anyone can do it.

I tried my hand at writing children’s books, but it didn’t work out. It turns out there is something that J.K. Rowling has that I don’t: She apparently likes children whereas I, oh – what’s the word I’m looking for here – despise them? No, that’s not it. Hate? Loathe? Detest? Dislike? Abhor? No, none of them are quite right. Nothing seems quite strong enough.

But I see children all the time. In restaurants, libraries, churches, at family gatherings and in shopping malls, in grocery stores and at concerts. Just because I don’t have any children doesn’t mean I can’t write books for them. I was a child once; it should be a piece of cake.

Though I enjoyed writing books for children, I could never find a publisher for them. No one would touch “Stop That Nonsense or We’re Going Home Right Now!” “Are You People Ever Going To Say ‘No!’ To That Kid?” got rejected by every major (and minor) publisher. My agent is still sitting on “Quimly, the Dragon Who Ate Loud, Noisy Children,” and “Even If There Was A Santa, He Wouldn’t Give You Anything!” I’m starting to get discouraged.

But the kid’s market is fickle, it can turn on a dime. Sure, this year they’re all screaming for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” but who knows? Maybe next year things will have changed and there will be a big demand for the title I’m working on now, “Say the Magic Words and Then We’ll Let You Out of the Basement!”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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