Ben Gilman

Terrible autobiography titles and how they were created (maybe)

There’s nothing like a wander through your local WH Smith… fortunately. The shelves groan under the weight of autobiographies by the most prosaic of people. One thing about these works is perfectly consistent: their invariably bad and often downright terrible titles. I’ve collected some of my favourites and imagined the conversations at the publishers that led to their titling.

Shane Richie – Rags To Richie

- The pun-generating machine is broken, what are we going to do?
- Stand back, I’ve had an idea.

Julie Walters - That’s Another Story

- We need a well-known phrase about stories.
- How about this one?
- Perfect. I’m a big fan of the way it implies the best stuff isn’t in the book.

Fred Dibnah - Did You Like That?

- OK, starting point, let’s use the catchphrase.
- I’m a bit concerned it sounds quite menacing out of context.
- No no, we’re fine, pair it with this picture.
- Not sure that’s helped.

Richard Branson - Losing My Virginity

- It’ll work but it could be stronger. Ideas?
- Any way we could get ‘Dick’ in there too?

Coleen Nolan - Upfront & Personal

- Two words is where it’s at. Two words and an ampersand.
- Colleen is so upfront but also it’s a very personal take.
- Bingo! Let’s ignore the fact that it sounds like a soft porn movie.

Shirley Maclaine - Sage-Ing While Age-Ing

- This book about getting older is great but we really need a title that emphasises the aspect of age.
- Here we go.
- Pretty good – but I’m a bit concerned the rhyme could be missed.
- Superfluous hyphen or two?
- Let’s book in a coffee to chat about your promotion.

Sanda ‘Pepa’ Denton - Let’s Talk About Pep

- OK, titles… any ideas?
- A Dash Of Pepa? Pepa-Spray?
- Hang on, I’ve got it.

Tori Spelling - sTori Telling

- That’s great but the pun isn’t clear enough. Make the S lowercase and let’s talk sequels.
- Uncharted TerriTORI?
- Let’s take an early lunch.

Inspired by these fine titles I’ve decided to put pen to paper on my own story. In my own words. Shocking. Heartwarming. Life-affirming. Serialised in the Mail On Sunday.

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