Have you been doing research on how to come up with a book title? Are you surprised that most sources offer little useful help?
Some would say browse existing titles. This is good, but you should not limit yourself to that. Others say go with what you feel passionate about. This is dangerous because what you are passionate about may not resonate well with your audience. And the least helpful bit of advice you might get online is that you shouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about a title. This is terrible advice.
Think of it this way. Huge companies spend millions of dollars annually just so they can name their products effectively. These companies spend even more on how to run effective ads, which rely a lot on finding the right words.
If these companies spend millions of dollars and a ton of effort on ad titles and product names, that should convince you that you need to spend an ample amount of time in choosing your title.
Why Are Book Titles Important?
What is the first thing that potential book readers see? The cover of course! And what is the most important element of the cover? The book title. A good title will intrigue readers to pick up the book and look it over. A great title will inspire them to buy the book and read it.
Let’s get one thing straight, though. The title alone will not determine how successful a book is going to be. But it will certainly help in getting potential readers.
Here’s an example: Alexandre Dumas’ book The Mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask. Under this title, the book sold 30,000 copies.
This book was not originally published with that title, however. It was initially released as The Mystery of the Iron Mask. With this title, the book sold only 11,000 copies. Just by tweaking a few words in the title, book sales grew exponentially.
The 4 Most Common Attributes of a Great Book Title
1. Evocative – Best-selling titles are often evocative. With compelling wordplay, an effective title elicits a strong response or feeling from a would-be reader.
2. Attention Grabbing – A boring title will kill your book. You need a title that stands out from the bookshelf. This may sound like a cliché, but you need to make an impactful first impression to set you apart from the rest.
3. Memorable and Unique – How many times have you browsed for titles, liked some of them, and totally forget them? You lose book sales if your title is not memorable. A lot of people will not buy a book the first time they encounter it.
4. Informative – Your book’s title and subtitle should give readers an idea of what the book is about. Make it easy for your audience to understand what they will discover inside. In turn, it will make it easier for you to draw them in. Think of it this way: if you were to tell someone your book’s title, do you think that person will ask you what the book is about? If so, you may want to change your title.
3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Book Title
1. Existing Titles – It’s imperative that you make sure your title is original and hasn’t already been an existing book title. Conduct an extensive search on your working title and see if it comes up in any search engines.
2. Audience – Who would read your book? What language do they speak? When I say language, I am pertaining to the way they speak based on the industry they belong to. You can’t make your title appealing to everyone. But you can choose which audience you want it to appeal to.
3. Controversial Topics – Make sure that your book title does not inadvertently reference controversial topics. It would be difficult to market your book if readers associate its title with something contentious.
6 Tips for Creating the Best Book Title
1. Use Literary Devices – Many attention-grabbing non-fiction titles and fiction titles use literary devices to spice up their titles. You might consider using alliteration, like Gillian Flynn used in Gone Girl, or another device like double entendre to produce a catchy title that hooks a reader’s interest.
2. Popular Phrases – Using popular phrases works! Take a famous phrase and make some alterations to make it fit the theme of your book. Why does this work? You are borrowing the popularity of the phrase to capture the attention of readers. Sex, Drugs, and Rocking Code: The Uncensored Autobiography of an Anonymous Programmer by Paul Carter is a good example from our best-seller list. Borrowing the phrase “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll” makes the book interesting, as it doesn’t have anything to do with music.
3. Use Numbers – Numbers bring in credibility. Even Google loves this. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most popular non-fiction business books out there. This also worked for my book, Supreme Leadership: Gain 850 Years of Wisdom from Successful Business Leaders, which is a #1 Best-Seller and currently in the top in 3 of its subcategories on Amazon.
4. Target Curiosity – It is always effective to pique the curiosity of readers. How? Use phrases with paradoxes, unusual contrasts, fantastical, unusual, and unexpected. Play Bold: How to Win the Business Game through Creative Destruction by Magnus Parker catches readers’ attention by using the paradox of “Creative Destruction” as part of the title. How can destruction be creative? It doesn’t give an answer right away, but it makes you wonder.
5. Offer Your Solution – Tell the reader what problem your book addresses. What challenges does your book cater to? Click to Transform: Digital Transformation Game Plan for Your Business by Kevin Jackson solves digital transformation problems that a lot of companies face in the current business landscape.
6. Coin a Word – What better way is there to gain popularity and pique curiosity than coining an attention-grabbing word? ShePreneur: Business Lessons for the Determined Female Entrepreneur by Kristin Cripps is among our best-sellers that employ this technique.
Steps to Writing Your Book Title
a. Identify Your Goals – What is your goal for writing a book? Do you a want a legacy piece? Is the book meant to be your business card? Or do you want to generate leads for your business? Find out what action you want your readers to take after reading your book. Once you know what your goals are, choose a title that serves them.
b. Build a List – Brainstorm. Make a list of titles that you think fit your content. This is a long-term process. Bright ideas cannot be forced, so we suggest you keep a list on your phone or in a notepad that you can carry in your pocket. Don’t be afraid to write poor-sounding titles. Just like in writing your first draft, keep on writing until you have a long list of titles to choose from.
c. Keyword Research – Search matters for non-fiction books. Your audience would usually Google book topics and subjects rather than titles. However, do not restrict your main title with keywords as it may sound very artificial in the end. Keywords are usually included in the subtitle. What you want is for Google and Amazon to recommend your book to people searching for topics in your category.
Coming Up with a Book Title
Yes, it is a long process, but book titles should not be taken for granted. You can do this on your own, but it would also be beneficial to seek the help of professionals. At Leaders Press, choosing a strategic and highly converting book title is one of the benefits that you will get when outsourcing your book creation process. Schedule a chat with us and find out more!