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Are you finding it tough to pick the perfect book title? Are you worried that a wrong book title can affect your sales? Don’t worry! You’re not the only one out there. If you think your book’s title does NOT matter to your book or it’s sales, think again. In fact, here are some of the greatest classics that had different titles first:
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was initially titled Atticus.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was initially titled First Impressions.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was initially titled Alice.
Would they have still been a massive success if the titles weren’t changed? Who knows.
The title is the first thing anyone sees or hears about your book. Its job is to intrigue the audience and attract readers. Apart from that, it should also be a combination of marketability and sales copy.
You must consider a lot of factors before choosing the final title for your book.
Before we get into it in detail, a book title can be used to/in:
So before you start brainstorming, remember the above in mind.
Here is how you begin the process:
Write whatever comes to your mind. Every word, title, combination of words, even if it doesn’t make sense. At first, you might think there’s no point in doing this, but you’ll be surprised. You can also use a dictionary by looking at random pages and searching for new words.
Some of the most common phrases are “The _____ of _______” or “______ and the _____”.
Though these work only for specific genres, they are of great use. Try playing around with them to see what fits. This will make it easier for you.
Perky names used in book titles are super popular (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson). Use it only if you think the name is unique. Not all names are unique as we think they are. Once you have the name, add your own creativity to it to make it title-worthy.
You can do the same for the setting if its taken place somewhere significant.
If your book has any notable phrases, you can use it as the title too!
Example: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
If your book is about is about self-help, having a title that promises the readers to achieve the desired goal is fantastic.
Example: How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Few book titles straightforward and direct without any statements.
Example: Steve Jobs
The audience targeted or describing their characteristics can also be part of the title. Doing this helps readers connect instantly.
Example: What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Arlene Eisenberg
Adding numbers always increases credibility. Being specific is a highly used tactic for books.
Example: The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Using unusual statements, paradoxes that seem to be impossible arouses curiosity in the reader. The point is to make a far-fetched statement but promises delivery.
Example: Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson
Metaphors play a powerful tool. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a world-renowned book with a metaphor as a title. The title signifies a warm, nurturing feeling that human associate with chicken soup and tells us stories that nurture our souls.
An alliteration is the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. It also makes it easier for readers to remember.
Example: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
Slang works really well if it’s used in a non-intuitive way.
Example: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg by Mark Ribowsky.
How to [TOPIC]
The Joy of [TOPIC]
The End of [TOPIC]
The Art of [TOPIC]
The Myth of [TOPIC]
Confessions of [TOPIC]
Example: The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama.
This is pretty self-explanatory. I’m pretty sure you would have stopped to look at a book because of its attractive cover. All of us have. Here is an example: I Can Make You Hot!: The Supermodel Diet by Kelly Killoren Bensimon. 90% of people would have stopped to take a look at this book. My point is that just like how an attractive book cover grabs attention, so should your book title.
You can grab attention in various ways. You can be exciting, make a promise, say something funny, etc. The only rule to follow? Not be boring.
Now when I say memorable, I mean that it should be worth remembering. If your book’s title doesn’t make an impact on the reader, it’s just not worth remembering for them. After you establish your target audience, think like them, know what they would love, and add a bit of your creativeness to it. After all, you don’t want someone to go “I don’t remember the name of the book. It wasn’t anything creative. Just any other name,” do you?
This applies more to non-fiction books. The title and subtitle should tell readers what your book is about. You might think people have the patience to do a little research and know what it’s about, but they will not. It’s your job as an author t make it easier for them.
At the same time, don’t give away the whole book idea. Just let them know what it’s about.
An easy title is easier to remember. The easier to remember, the more they will recommend it. Don’t go for words which are hard to pronounce. It should be easy to enunciate. A title that is difficult to pronounce can get hard for you to recommend to other readers. Remembering it can also be tough. Say your title out a few times and see how easy it is to enunciate.
You know it’s a lousy title when someone feels hesitant to say it out aloud. Let’s take the book “Why Do Men Have Nipples?” By Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg. M.D. No-one’s going to tell the people who they are aren’t close to about it, no matter how excellent the book is. Why? Because they might feel embarrassed amongst other reasons.
Short titles occupy less space on a screen, which makes it easy to read it on e-readers. They also fit in URLs completely or wherever you want to use them. They are usually preferred as it’s more easy to remember.
It also gives more space and flexibility for a better cover design. Authors can get carried away at times and keep the title wordy. Stick to the core idea for the title and keep the subtitle wordy. Try to keep it at five words or less.
Usually, if your book is part of a series or you want to add a little bit more information, you can have a subtitle.
Subtitles also draws the attention of potential readers, and help increase your book’s chance when it has to be found online.
The subtitle should give very little information like a series name and volume number or a hint as to what genre the book is.
Before deciding the style of your subtitle (brackets, colon, etc.) research your book’s genre to see what subtitles other authors have used.
Now that you know how to create the perfect title and subtitle, let’s move on to testing it out.
Testing it out won’t hurt anyone. All authors test their manuscripts, titles and subtitles out to see what the audience prefers.
Go Local – You can start with your family and friends although they might not give you their honest opinion because they love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Facebook Groups – Join various Facebook groups that are filled with writers seeking opinions for their books. All you have to do it just post (2-3 options) and voila. Within no time, you’ll be flooded with opinion from an author POV.
You can also use softwares that are meant for online surveys like SurveyMonkey, etc. Once you finish creating your survey, you and send the link and ask people to fill it up!
Now that you know the entire process of picking the perfect title for your book, it’s time to get started!