Are you musing over the title for your new book? Do you have a title in mind?
Writing a book title is a process, just like writing the book. If you have thought of a title, it might be the perfect one—or it might be just the first option.
Be sure to come up with several titles before you decide on what will go on the cover. When you have two or three ideas, present them to people whose opinion you value. Ask which one they prefer and why. Note down their replies. Ideally, the people you ask will be readers, and some should be readers of books like yours.
Here are five tips for writing a great book title. It should be
- CATCHY. If it doesn’t grab people’s attention, they might pass over it while looking for their next book. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari has been a bestseller for years. The subtitle tells people what the book is about: A Brief History of Humankind. Vernon Sankey’s The Stairway to Happiness captures the imagination and may be just what the reader is looking for.
- MEMORABLE. Wheels Up! by Jeanine Kitchell has just two words, and it’s a cinch to remember. Without remembering the title, no one can add it to their wish list or recommend it to friends and family.
- INTRIGUING. People should be curious to know more. No One’s Business by Vadim Turcanu makes readers wonder what the author has to say. Everyone can relate to the title (and the memoir is fascinating).
- RELEVANT. To get an inkling of the book’s subject, the title is a reader’s first clue. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Meet Your True Self Through Meditation by Swami Shyam tell people exactly what the books are about. Another relevant title is Weight Training Without Injury by Fred Stellabotte and Rachel Straub.
- EASY TO SAY. This one sounds simple, but it’s critical. If people struggle to speak the title aloud, they will be subtly repelled by it. John Gray’s second book, What Your Mother Couldn’t Tell You and Your Father Didn’t Know isn’t just hard to remember, but it’s also hard to say. It sold far fewer copies than his first book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Fans might love Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude and Other Commandments I Have Broken, but the title is hard to say and even harder to remember.
Think about how easy it is to say Kenneth Grahame’s title, The Wind in the Willows—the words roll off your tongue (like a breeze). Or Bill Bryson’s title: Shakespeare.
Your book title isn’t just a title. It’s instant free advertising. It’s a marketing tool for both fiction and nonfiction, including children’s books. Take the time to choose your title carefully. Make sure readers are moved by it and that they remember it.
After all, you are a writer—so write a good book title!
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