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From Cyber Lives to Cyber Smut: The importance of titles

Updated: Apr 5

I should probably justify my qualifications before I begin. More so, I should probably persuade you to read this article despite my seeming lack of qualifications in marketing. I am a 21 year-old English and Creative Writing student at Goldsmiths, UoL, with a background in theatre, IT and graphic/video design. I am qualified to talk about the importance of titles because what I am really doing is simply telling you the story of how our open call for submissions blew up after we settled on the title Cyber Smut.

Everything is Marketing

In spite of my greatest efforts I keep finding myself in situations where I just have to work in marketing. It's the curse of the English student. Can you write? Do you know how social media works? Do you know where to find royalty free images? Then you might be the perfect candidate for our new position in Social Media Marketing! Hooray! Yes, the English student always wants to go into publishing (whatever that means) and always ends up in marketing (whatever that means), but that's just because if you think about it, marketing is everywhere. It is an important part of every business and it is especially crucial for independent publishers and start-ups like Guts Publishing. Whether you are trying to get submissions for an anthology or get people to actually buy that anthology, marketing is at the forefront. For us at Guts, the title turned out to be the most important starting point.


Why are titles so important?

You don't really know how much work a title does until you don't quite get it right. Cyber Lives was a good title - it establishes the theme well, it invites a variety of genres but it doesn't have enough... oomph. The oomph is what drew me to Guts Publishing in the first place. Goldsmiths was hosting a reading from the Stories About Penises anthology. Now that's a memorable title! I don't know one person who scrolled past that email. It's a title which works damn hard (no pun intended).


We had a team meeting where we brainstormed different names and Cyber Smut stuck. Perhaps it's the satisfaction from that alliteration or the bold and imagination-stirring word smut. Whatever it was, we witnessed first hand the importance of titles, because submissions started flooding in. Cyber Smut is a title which excites and demands attention.

Clearly, we weren't the only ones that thought so because what you see here is a screenshot of the number of submissions we got before and after we changed the title.


“Once the title is there, the only thing left to produce is a text that justifies it ... or doesn’t.” -Gerard Genette, Paratexts

Justifying the title

With great titles come great responsibilities and the texts in Cyber Smut will have to work as hard as the title. What I can say at this point is that our team is working hard to bring this next anthology to life and we will make sure that it sits perfectly next to Stories About Penises on your shelves.


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Gery Galabova is a writer, comedian and an intern at Guts Publishing. Her previous work includes the EdFringe play 'Liminality', writing for Society19, a few stand-up shows and some other freelance work all available on her website, click on her name for more details.

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