What is your first reaction when you hear titles like Everything I Never Told You, The Devil Wears Prada, Love in the Time of Cholera, and How to Win Friends and Influence People?
“Everything I Never Told You” will make you grab a copy to know what wasn’t told and why it wasn’t told. The third title sets the expectation that it is a heart-wrenching account of love when the fatal epidemic struck. Finally, the last title is self-explanatory, and the author wants people to be inspired by his book. So, the title is bang on and rightfully grabs attention.
Hence, the book title, the first touchpoint for your potential reader, should provide a background, convey a brief summary of its contents, provide a distinct identity, and arouse the reader’s curiosity.
Here is a checklist of how you can arrive at the perfect book titles:
Objective of the Book
To begin with, you need to be clear about the goals you wish to achieve with your book. This clarity will determine your choice of the title. Your titles will have to be quite different for a fiction book than an action, adventure, or horror book.
This is because titles can help you achieve sales, establish you as a subject-matter expert, and help you get media visibility, to mention a few benefits. So, decide what you want to achieve with your book title, and start thinking along those lines. If you’re going for establishing authority, make sure the title comes across assertively to your readers. However, if you are aiming for publicity, your title should attract media attention, and they should be lured into covering you.
Deliberate upon Multiple Title Options
Once you are convinced about the goal of your book, spend time conceiving hundreds of book title ideas before finalizing your title. Just start writing all the titles that you can think of in your diary or a word processor.
Essentially, you need to put your thinking cap on, and this, in turn, will facilitate your thinking process. Record all your titles, irrespective of whether they are good or bad. Who knows? You may find that the bad titles might lead you to a good one. Here are some recommended practices:
- Start with an intelligent and significant expression that summarizes your book in one phrase. Ideally, start with long titles and trim them into shorter ones as you go along. The title should be no more than five words. For instance, your nonfiction titles should be straightforward. If you tell someone your nonfiction book title, and they have to ask what it is about, you know you need to change the title.
- Consider using subtitles. If your title is striking yet not to the point, think about a subtitle that highlights the background and important keywords. For instance, Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days is dedicated to audiences and companies globally on how to turn a one-time customer into a long-standing one.
- Relevant keywords help. The title, particularly for nonfiction books, should have the discoverability characteristic. The book should appear when someone types in those sets of keywords. If you want to tell someone how to reduce carbon footprints, consider the book title, “How to Reduce Carbon Footprint.” If you still need help, look for subtitles and titles that use extra keywords to attract more footfall.
- Ensure your book title guarantees a takeaway for your reader. Something specific like “Best book for healing your relationship with food” or “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” strikes a direct chord with the reader.
- Similarly, titles focusing on offering help to a specific reader segment works. If you can convey to the reader that the book is for them using your title, you can target discrete audiences straightaway. Moreover, the target audience can encourage you to do a series of books, wherein each version will be dedicated to providing a specific solution to a problem. For instance, 6 Ways to Lose Belly Fat Without Exercise! And Secrets of Closing The Sale.
- Moreover, planting statements that seem impractical, contradictory, or confusing can also arouse the readers’ curiosity. These should be unthinkable claims with an assurance of being fulfilled. For instance, titles like ..I’m Kidding, That Was Then, This Is Now, and The Wrong Side of Right are likely to pique the readers’ interest, and they are likely to invest in the book to see what the author is talking about.
- Additionally, you can add numbers to the book title to strengthen its reliability quotient. For instance, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century helps the audience engage with the book in a structured manner, within a defined theme and time limits.
- While you can also effectively use your grammar knowledge, metaphors, and alliterations to create strong titles, altering a popular phrase or inventing a new phrase can also help to come up with titles. Make sure the title words are easy to pronounce and understand.
- Finally, if your imagination needs a kick, go and look at how other books are named. Even tips from copywriters who understand what sells can be a good starting point.
Be Sure Your Title Is Already Not Taken Up
If it is already in use, your book title will create unnecessary confusion and competition. Nevertheless, even if the title is in use, don’t get disheartened. Try to move around or add some words or even a subtitle to retain your book’s individuality.
Finalize the Book Title
Once you have implemented all the above steps and narrowed down on a list of titles, start finalizing the title for your book. This can be done by having one of your existing readers discuss the title within their group. The audience’s reaction to the title, like nodding, understanding, and asking further queries, is a sure shot sign of a good title.
You can even use technology to help you inch towards the final title. For instance, using Google Ad Words for title testing, launching a survey on Survey Monkey, or resorting to a Google survey that aims at people is your passport to your final destination.
So, there is a lot that goes behind the scenes.
While the book title is the first and foremost thing the prospective reader sees, it should also capture the audience’s interest and share a little about the book content without unfolding much.
As writers, you want to create your own distinctive style and brand. Remember, the book title is the starting point of your literary creation.
Walk through all the above steps to make your title grab the reader’s attention, memorable, searchable, informative, and short and easy to pronounce.
Check out our book How to write your first nonfiction book.