How to Create a Subtitle for a Book

How to Create a Subtitle for a Book

Subtitles are an essential part of your book, and they can play a critical role in the success of your book. Hence, it is crucial to write an amazing subtitle. Most writers only focus on the title of the book. Some writers pay thousands to get the perfect title from experts but ignore the book subtitle. Yes, the title is vital with so many books coming to the market every week. However, the subtitles are equally important. 

As you know, the book title is written to make an impact and catch potential readers’ attention. The subtitle does the remaining work. The subtitle should explain to the reader what the book is about.

If you are a first-time author and writing your first book, you will indeed have many questions about book subtitles. In this article, we are going to talk about everything related to subtitles.

What is a Book Subtitle?

A book subtitle is a subordinate title that helps authors put more information into the title and tell readers the real point and benefit of the book. The book’s subtitles are those that attract readers more towards them after the brilliant title. It is also an essential part of a marketing tool since the title and subtitle appear on the book cover. So, if you have an interesting book title and subtitle for your book, it would help sell more books.

Do all Books need Subtitles?

No, not every book needs a subtitle. However, the question can be better answered by talking about the genre of the book. If you pick up a nonfiction book, you will find a subtitle for it more often than not.  One needs to consider inserting a subtitle because great subtitles should explain why a reader should pick up your book!

If you are writing a non-fiction, having a perfect subtitle is always a good idea as you can tell your readers what they can expect from the book. For example, suppose your potential readers are looking for a book on back pain. In that case, he is more likely to pick books with titles related to back pain and a subtitle with appropriate keywords like ’50 ways to cure it.’ Your non-fiction book may be talking about multiple topics. Subtitles in nonfiction help you narrow down the content to the target audience.

Most fiction books do not have subtitles. The books having a subtitle are the ones in which the title is too complex for readers to make meaning. In such cases, to give clarity, a subtitle becomes essential. In some cases, if you feel your title is average, you can write captivating subtitles to stir readers’ interest. 

If you are writing memoirs, the same holds for them as well. The purpose of book subtitles in memoir is to explain the title and make the reader more interested in the book.

Attributes of a Great Subtitle

If you plan to write an excellent subtitle for your book, you have to take care of a few points. Just writing any subtitles with a few words will not help the cause. You have to put in some thoughts. Let us see exactly what attributes of good subtitles are – 

  • Contextual –

An amazing subtitle tells readers whether the book is for them or not and how it will help them if they pick it. If your book is for business leaders, you can reflect that through book subtitles with the right keywords. However, it would help if you did not directly put it – Book for business leaders. You should be creative.

  • Attention holding –

Every excellent book title grabs readers’ attention. Once readers read the subtitle, they should be drawn to know more about the book – turn the book pages. You want them to open the book and go through the content.

  • Searchable –

It is said that a good book title should be memorable, and a great subtitle should be searchable. It would be best to focus on the keywords that you think your audience will type in the search engines or on Amazon/Flipkart. What your target reader is looking for, those keywords should be in your subtitle.

  • Short and specific –

You don’t have to write a sentence. If what you want to convey is taking a sentence, you still need to find a way to put that in fewer words. Your book subtitle should be short and specific and yet share a lot of information.

  • Simple –

The book subtitle should have simple phrases. It would help if you did not complicate it for your readers. A complicated subtitle will defy the primary purpose of having a subtitle in the first place. Make the subtitle phrases direct and to the point.

Steps to Writing a Good Subtitle for a Book

If you plan to write a killer subtitle, you should follow below steps:

  • Summarize your book –

If you are planning to write your own subtitle for a book, it would be easy since you know what you have written in the book and what your audience will get from it. Your job as a writer is to summarize all the benefits of your book. Use your imagination and list down even the tiniest or most far-fetched notions that cross your mind.

  • Factor in the Book Tone –

The title and subtitle of your book should reflect the feel of the whole book. Your book may be funny, serious, authoritative, etc. The subtitle should convey the same tone.

  • Make a Claim –

Once all the benefits of your books are with you, you need to capitalize on those. Next, you have to make a claim – the bigger the claim, the better it is.

  • Brainstorm Subtitle Ideas –

Once the above points are sorted, you need to start brainstorming the subtitles. Create as many subtitles that come to your mind. Even if some of the thoughts are not making much sense, don’t restrict yourself. Try to write 40 to 50 subtitles. Once the list is complete, go through the list multiple times. Remove the ones you don’t fit or don’t like. Start the shortlisting process and stop once you have finalized the top three.

  • Get bold and specific –

Authors, especially first-time authors, are afraid to make a specific claim. However, you have to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to write a stunning subtitle.

Examples of Good Subtitles for a Book

Now that we have covered the steps of writing good subtitles let us look at some of the examples to make more sense.

Example 1Go Solo: How to Quit the Job You Hate and Start a Small Business You Love

Every reader who reads the subtitle knows the book is for anyone who hates his job and plans to start a business. Any reader looking for something similar will pick up the book.

Example 2Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Ikigai is one of the best-selling books of recent times. As we discussed above, when the title of the book is such that the reader cannot comprehend what the book is about, the subtitle is mandatory. Subtitles should follow such book titles. Again, you can see how the authors have conveyed what the book is about.

Example 3 – The Unfortunates: and yet life goes on

It is an example of fiction, and the book subtitle sets the tone of the book. The title tells readers that the book is about unfortunate events, and the subtitle conveys positivity. In short, the story is about facing life challenges.

Common Mistakes while Writing Subtitles

The above details will help you write a good subtitle. However, you should also know the common mistakes authors make while writing subtitles to write a killer subtitle.

  • Too long –

It would help if you did not write a very long subtitle. The first problem is that the subtitle may not fit in a line. Subtitles spread over two lines, in most cases, will not look nice. The second problem is lengthy subtitles fail to create an impact.

  • Too short –

If the subtitle is too short that readers cannot get any information out of it, the subtitle is of little use. Hence, keep a subtitle of at least 4 to 6 words to make a real meaning out of it.

  • Not properly edited –

Most writers fail to get the subtitles edited. Yes, much like various types of editing of your book, even subtitles need editing. Ensure there is no punctuation or spelling error in the subtitle. 

Conclusion

We have covered everything that will help you write great subtitles. If you still have questions, the best way to answer them is to look at the other books in the bookstore. With more examples with you, you will indeed write killer subtitles, and your book will surely be a bestselling book. When in doubt, always keep it simple. However, always remember that: the best subtitles are always bold, clear, and very specific!