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Book Title 101: How To Choose A Title That Will Sell

Turgay Birand

November 29, 2016

book title How do authors choose the titles for their books? Despite all of the information available online to help authors, book title advice is very limited. In fact there is a lot of bad advice, which include:
  • Don’t spend too much time on it
  • Trust your gut
  • The title isn’t very important
If you have read any of this information when looking for book title help, erase it from your brain. You should take time to find the right title and your book’s title is very important. With millions of books available in your genre alone, people will make decisions based on your cover design, your description and your title. So, let’s discuss how to choose a title that will help you sell more books. Afterall all authors want their hard work to be appreciated. Don’t let a misleading title kill your opportunity to sell.

How To Choose A Book Title That Will Sell

book title 

1. Give Yourself Options

The biggest mistake authors make when deciding on a title is not having enough options to choose from. The easy way to avoid this mistake is to routinely take time to brainstorm title ideas. Writing your book will take time, so set a goal to brainstorm a certain amount of titles each week. Once you have a large list of titles you will be able to narrow them down. By breaking up your brainstorming process into small chunks over several week, or months, you will be able to grow your list with fresh ideas.

2. Google Your Book Titles

The next step will be to Google your titles. While you can’t trademark a specific title, it is better to have an original title if possible. A simple Google search will help you identify titles on your list that are already being used. Another benefit of using Google is that you can start to discover what a successful title may look like. Keep an eye on the details of the type of titles that are popular in your genre, such as if they use a subtitle.

3. Consider A Subtitle

Have you considered including a subtitle for your book? It is proven that subtitles can greatly increase book sales. The main reason subtitles are so effective is they can clarify what readers can expect if the decide to purchase your book. A great example of a subtitle being used is the book The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. By including a subtitle the author was able to clarify exactly what the book is about. If the title had simply been The Millionaire Next Door, many people could have mistaken it as something completely different, such as a murder mystery. When you look through your master list if title ideas, see if there are two options that could be combined through the use of a subtitle. Clarity is important when it comes to your title. Since most authors do not have a massive marketing budget to educate potential readers about their book, it is crucial your title makes it clear what readers can expect.

4. Make Sure Your Book Title Matches Your Story

Since you should start brainstorming titles long before you are done writing your book, it is important to make sure the title you choose still matches your story once it is complete. A lot can change from when you start writing until you finish your final edit. A title you fell in love with may not be relevant any more.

5. Don’t Spoil Your Book's Plot

It may seem like common sense not to spoil the plot of your book with the title, but it is worth mentioning. Try to avoid foreshadowing any critical portions of your book on the cover. Can you imagine if J.K. Rowling named her last book: Harry Potter and the Death of Voldemort? Your title should make people interested to read your book, not spoil what will happen in your book.

6. Test Your Top Book Titles With Family and Friends

book title Once you have narrowed your title options down to a manageable list you will want to ask for outside opinions. While hiring a professional to help may be a good idea, asking family and friends is also an effective strategy. Make sure to ask them to not only rank your titles, but also explain why they like or dislike certain titles on your list. Normal people will be buying your book, so the opinions of your family and friends are likely to represent what your actual target audience will feel. The cover of your book is also very important, so you may want to consider including the potential covers with the title. You can find cover designers that will create quick covers for this. You can always improve or change your cover prior to actually publishing your book.

7. Choose Your Final Book Title

The final step is to choose your title. After following the six steps above this should be much easier. You will have spent months brainstorming title ideas, checking their originality, researching what has worked for other authors and testing them with family and friends. Now it is time to choose the actual title for your next book and begin polishing the remainder of the book exterior (cover design, book description and endorsements). A title won’t necessarily make or break a book, but following these steps will help to increase the chances that your book will get the attention and sales it deserves.

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