As part of a book’s cover design, your title is part of what grabs the attention of a potential reader. So, it needs to be strong, catchy, or contain a “hook”.
It may often seem that writing your book was “easy” compared to trying to come up with that “perfect” title. Following are some ideas that may help.
A major ingredient you should consider when thinking about your book title is your target market. Some of your considerations should include: Is your book fiction or non-fiction? What genre are you writing in? What will be your marketing strategy?
An effective title may raise a question in a potential reader’s mind or present a mystery that would make a reader curious. This can interest the reader to buy your book to learn more. However, don’t make the title so mysterious that the reader ends up getting confused.
It really helps to have a title that, when a potential buyer searches using a keyword or term, your book comes up near the top of the list. That also means that your title should inform a potential reader what your book is about. These ideas are mostly for non-fiction, but fiction writers would do well to also think about these.
Steps to create an effective book title
- Use brainstorming—As you go through the following suggestions, write down everything that comes into your mind: A) Think of some common quotes, sayings, or phrases that fit your subject. B) Think of possible one-word titles that match your subject. They should be powerful and/or generate some emotion(s). They can be made-up words or words that create an image. C) If you’re writing fiction, you can use a character’s name, a setting, a major book event, or a special line from the book. D) Address possible benefits—things that may solve a problem the reader has.
- Use a name or title generator—The internet has lots of resources you can use to create, improve, or grade your title.
- Use power words, trigger words, or emotional words in your title—These carry more weight than ordinary everyday words. For example, check out the difference between “big” and “monumental”, or “exciting” versus “energizing”, or “beaten” versus “obliterated”. The goal is to create some emotion in your potential reader that increases engagement and hopefully creates a sale.
- Check your chosen title choice(s)—Do other books already have this title? On your side is that fact that the U.S. has no copyright laws that apply to titles. And yes, there are books on the shelf that have the same title, perhaps with a different sub-title. But if there’s a book in print, which is already popular, do you want to compete with it? For example, there was a play several years ago called “The Phantom”. Theater-goers all expected a plot like “The Phantom of the Opera”. However, they were seriously disappointed and mighty unhappy. If you decide to go ahead with your choice, be sure to include this thinking in your marketing plan.
Do a mockup of your potential book cover design. Is the title too long? If it needs multiple lines, where will it break in order to not lose the flow of the title? Will there be a graphic or image of some kind? Will the title and the picture complement each other?
It may also be a good idea to run your title choice(s) by some test sample in your target market. You can poll friends, colleagues, etc., and you can use book clubs on various social media.
Getting the title right is an important part of writing a book. The most effective title needs to have just the right combination of imagination, creativity, and marketability. It needs to inform a potential reader of the gist your book, fit well within your chosen genre, be easily searchable, and ultimately, should help sell your book.
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