A good book title can mean the difference between a bestseller and a lifeless shelf-dweller.
In this post I am going to give you some information that will help you choose the best title for your book.
The title is what people see first. It’s what they remember when they go home to look the book up. It’s what they say when they recommend the book to others. It’s the most important marketing decision that a writer can make because, while a good title can’t make a book popular, it can certainly keep a book from getting sold.
Yes, a book’s cover art is important, but there are some books that, once readers see the title, think, “Hmm, now that sounds interesting.” And they pick the book up.
That is what we’re after. Cover artists and publishers can decide on the art, but you are responsible for your book’s title – especially in the case of self-publishing.
A Good Book Title Is:
A unique title captures the essence of the book, stakes out new territory in the arms race of book naming, and provokes curiosity. Upon reading or hearing it, a person should get an idea of what your book is about without entirely knowing what’s inside. Example: Kamsi’s Fruit Story . Have you ever heard of a book like that? And don’t you want to find out more?
- Catches the reader’s attention
Think of the title Wonders of the Cross. I love that title! It’s so energetic. Imagine someone walking in a bookstore, passing by hundreds of books. How can your title stand out among the rest? How can it provoke curiosity?
- Easily remembered
Unique titles that catch the reader’s attention should also be easily remembered. Most easily remembered books are pleasant sounding to the ear, short, and unique. Power of a Woman is a good example. A bad example would be Then We Came to the End. Nobody could remember that title. Nobody. Everyone came into bookstores asking for “The Office Book.”
- Easily pronounced
A good title is easily pronounced because that plays a part in being easily remembered as well as how often a reader may talk about your book.
- Avoids confusion with other books
Two books last year had very similar titles: “Girl on a Train” and “The Girl on the Train.” The latter was a best seller. The former was not, but got lots of sales simply by confusion. You want to choose a title which is unique from other books, unless you have a plan to draft off a super-popular book. Discoverability is a big deal, especially for self-published writers. You want people to be able to find your book, and not a book that just sounds like it.
Your title may not contain all of these characteristics, but it should at least be a combination of two or three.
Titling Nonfiction Books
Nonfiction titles should get straight to the point of the content (this includes blog posts, articles, etc.).
For example: if you tell someone the title of your nonfiction book and they have to ask what it is about, you probably need to change the title.
If you have a great eye-catching title that doesn’t quite get to the point, consider a subtitle.
Discoverability is the “Good Title” characteristic most important for nonfiction works. Keywords are essential. You want your book to pop right up when someone types in their problem. If you want to tell someone how to plant a garden, consider titling your book, “How to Plant a Garden.”
Check to be sure that your chosen title isn’t already used because that can create unnecessary confusion and competition.
It wouldn’t surprise me if “How to Plant a Garden” is already taken, so consider adding or shifting around the words. This is also where subtitling could be considered.
- The Best Way to Plant a Garden.
- Gardening Made Simple and Easy
- 6 Steps to the Perfect Garden
- Gardening Advice
- The Perfect Harvest: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Perfect Garden
Making the title unique without tarnishing its discoverability is probably one of the best things a nonfiction writer can do.
Titling Fiction (Novels & Short Stories)
Fiction differs from nonfiction in that titles should rarely get straight to the point. They instead should be mysterious and thought provoking, inducing curiosity. Fiction titles should lead a reader to pick up your book, not because they need a solution to a problem or information on a matter, but because they are curious.
Now, whether they buy or not depends on the content, but the title is what provokes them.
Titles come in all shapes and forms.