If you are reading this, you know how hard it is to find information about how to write a book title. In the same way businesses spend heaps of money on giving their products names, and media companies spend hours titling their blog posts, authors need to devote substantial energy and thought to create a great book title.
It is a vital decision, and you need to get it right, or your book could suffer the consequences. Below, we will discuss how to write a book title, what goes into the decision, and how to know if the one you have chosen is good. Let’s get going!
The title you give your book is the most critical decision you will make in the writing and publishing process. Your book title is the initial thing a reader will see about the book, so the title is your most crucial marketing choice. In fact, the book title creates the base for a reader’s overall judgment of your book.
While a great title doesn’t make your book successful, a lousy title does prevent it from being successful. So you need to take your time to figure out a catchy, alluring title that will grab readers’ attention and will possibly determine what many people think of the book.
There are a few characteristics that any great book title should have, and these are the main five:
While this point is relatively non-consequential for fiction titles, this one is crucial if you are writing a nonfiction book. The title should allow the reader insight into what your book is about. The simpler you make it for readers to know the subject, the better your chance of them choosing your book.
Ask yourself—if you told someone your book title alone, would they need to enquire what it is about? If yes, choose a different title.
Don’t try to be overly clever with your title, thinking those you are targeting will “get it.” People don’t like to feel dumb. This will make them less likely to purchase your book.
Choose words or phrases that are completely understood by your target audience, and ensure they convey the book’s purpose. Your title should convey the content of your book without describing it point blank.
In our fast-paced world, so many things pull people’s attention in one direction or another. An attention-grabbing title helps your book stand out and create a brilliant first impression. Conversely, bland titles are book killers.
Grabbing a reader’s attention can be as simple as using a controversial, exciting, or provocative title. Your book title should make readers stop in their tracks and pay attention.
3. Short and Simple
Typically, the shorter the title, the better. Shorter titles are easier to remember, search, and say. It also allows you to have space on the cover for eye-catching imagery. A one- or two-word title is best.
If you need to say more with the title, you can include a subtitle, but keep this to 5 or fewer words if possible.
4. Searchable and Memorable
Your book’s title is the first thing readers will see or hear about your book. But it is also the primary information readers have that leads them to find your book.
If readers recommend your book to a friend, the easier your title is to remember and search for, the better the chance they will find and purchase it.
5. Easy To Say
A book title that is easy to say allows for cognitive fluency, meaning people are more likely to remember and respond to words they can understand and pronounce without difficulty.
Overcomplicating your book title can lead to readers rejecting it—if they struggle with the title, the belief is that they will struggle with the content too. Additionally, you reduce the possibility of word of mouth if readers are embarrassed or have trouble saying the title or searching for it.
When choosing your title, say it out loud a few times, and imagine readers saying the title out loud—do you or they stumble on the words? If yes, give that title the boot.
Writing a captivating, compelling book title doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are the steps to writing an excellent book title.
The goal of your book will determine the title you choose. For example, nonfiction books have very different titles from fiction books.
Your book title can be used in many ways, including:
- Establishing your authority on the subject
- Catching the reader’s attention
- Advertising the book
- Being a hook for social media visibility
- Starting a series of books
- Decorating the book cover
- Introducing the name of the main character
Basically, the goal of your book will determine which objectives are relevant to your book.
For example, if you want to establish authority on the subject covered in your book, the book title should sound authoritative to the desired readers. If you want your title to be a social media visibility hook, the title should be relevant to what is popular at the time.
Creating a book title is not something that should be done quickly—it is a long-term process over the many weeks and months of writing your book. You may have to come up with dozens of possible titles before landing on the correct one.
Start a file or keep a notebook and write down all the working titles that come to you during the process. Even if a title seems silly or bad, write it down—you may find a way to rework it later.
There are a few ways to come up with book titles depending on your niche, including:
- Use a noteworthy, attention-grabbing, or clever phrase from the book (e.g., Lecturing Birds on Flying)
- Include keywords relevant to your subject or niche (e.g., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change)
- Promise that there will be a benefit from reading your book (e.g., Think and Grow Rich)
- Do not beat around the bush – keep it direct, clear, and simple (e.g., The Power of Habit)
- Consider your target audience and what they would look for (e.g., Physics For Future Presidents)
- If you are offering a solution, put that in the title (e.g., Secrets of Closing The Sale)
- If relevant, add a number to the title (e.g., The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership)
- Pique your reader’s interest without giving the answer (e.g., Who Moved My Cheese?)
- Use a symbol or metaphor with your book’s theme (e.g., Chicken Soup for the Soul)
- Include clever alliteration (e.g., The Mighty Miss Malone)
- Take a popular phrase and switch it around (e.g., The War of Art)
- Use appropriate slang (e.g., Ain’t Too Proud To Beg)
- Create a new word or phrase (e.g., Essentialism)
The first thing to understand is that a book title can’t have copyright, so technically, you could title your book “Da Vinci Code” or “Game of Thrones.” But this will make it incredibly tough for your book to get positive reviews or stand out.
One thing you can do, though, is trademark your book title if it is part of your brand. For example, Dave Asprey has a health and fitness brand with the word “Bulletproof” trademarked. Therefore, you can’t name your book “The Best Bulletproof Diet,” as it infringes on a trademark, not a copyright.
You should have quite a list of book title options by this point. Once you have this list, you can choose your favorites.
Everyone has their own option on book titles. However, unfortunately, when it comes to your book, most of those are going to be wrong.
There is no reason you need to consult with others about your book title—no one will be more critical about it than you.
But there is a simple test you can do to help you choose the right title: Imagine your readers saying your book title.
If you can see them saying the title out loud, understanding what it is about, and being intrigued by the title, you have a winner. However, if you imagine the reader wondering what it is about or asking for an explanation, cross it off the list.
Writing a book title doesn’t have to be challenging, but it is your most critical decision when writing a book. By following the steps above, you can now write the best book titles for your work to ensure it has a great chance of success. Good luck and happy writing!