Are you struggling to come up with a really great title for your book? Something so catchy and memorable that people just have to buy it simply out of curiosity? Don’t fret. Crafting a book title that sells well is a common dilemma of many authors. Whether you are writing a novel or a non-fiction book, or even an eBook, there are so many great book titles that have already been taken. Just like finding the last great dot com domain name, finding a name for your book that is not used by another author can pose a challenge.
First of all, you do not have to think up the title of your book before you dig into the writing process. Many authors use what is called a “Working Title” for their books, which is something you will name your file and call it while you are still working on it. Sometimes, people do use their working titles as the end result, but this is not necessary. Just dig in and begin writing. A great name for your book may come to you at any time during the writing of it.
In my book, “Men Are Like Wine”, the title was the premise for the book, which made coming up with a great name easy. It was written FOR the title. However, most of the other books I have written as a ghostwriter were not so easy. I’ve had some books that remained nameless until the final manuscript was finished and sent to the editor. In other cases, my clients chose a name for their books that we later determined to be difficult from a sales standpoint. Therein lies the biggest dilemma… “How can I come up with a great title for my book that will be unique and that will make people want to buy it?”
Coming up with a clever title for your book
This brings me to another point. Some people like to use the subtitle as a spot to summarize the contents, which is smart. Using the example above, you can quickly and easily surmise what the book is about. The subtitle tells you what it is about and this is another smart trick to use for marketing your own book.
Lesson #1: Your book title should be catchy, memorable and alluring. It should give the readers a mouthwatering glimpse of what they have in store.
Lesson #2: Test your book title. I recommend running your title idea(s) by several of your closest circles. Your friends, family, colleagues and others who know you. If you’re brave enough, you could also run a contest on social media. This can help to build a buzz about your book and will let you know what your fans think is the best choice. It’s best not to choose anything really weird, although you can definitely be creative.
Lesson #3: Long book titles don’t usually sell as well as short, snappy titles. Go for something that will punch people in the gut! Punchy, zippy and clever is what you are going for. Spend a few hours at the bookstore and browse the bestseller’s section, which is usually in the front of the store. You’ll see both fiction and non-fiction choices. This might help to get your creative juices flowing, so you can come up with a book title that sells well. You should also visit the section of your book’s genre.
Lesson #4: Not every book needs a subtitle. Sometimes, less is more. Especially in the fiction writing world, it may be overkill.
At what point should you be thinking of the title for your book? It could come to you at any time. While in the shower or while lying in bed before you drift off to dreamland. It could come when you are driving in the car or when you least expect it. When you finally come up with a book title that sells well, (or at least that you think will sell), you will just “know” it, kind of like meeting your soulmate!
Here are some ways you can brainstorm a really, really great title for your book:
- Jot down titles you like and what you like about them. Why do they resonate with you?
- Think of the characters and scenes in your book. Does something about them stand out as “title-worthy”?
- Don’t be afraid to make up words. People often stick to what they know, but sometimes the most creative names are not actually words you will find in the dictionary.
- Give your book a title that represents the “vibe” of your book. Stephen King’s titles are all so brilliantly named to feel eerie and dark. IT, Mile 81, Misery, Salem’s Lot, The Gunslinger; and The Stand are all very, short but catchy (and creepy), just as you would expect from the world’s most loved horror author. If you are in that echelon of authors, then you do not need to worry about crafting a book title that sells well. They will ALL sell.
- Appeal to your reader’s curiosity. You can be humorous or witty. You can be charming or mysterious. You can be adventurous. Making a book title that sells well is truly the most critical aspect of your book.
- Think of a book title that will lend well to visual artistry. Even if you have a great book title, if the design of your cover sucks, then you have missed the mark. I’ll talk more about designing a great book cover in a later post.
- Write down words you like and that “sound good” together.
- Don’t be afraid to bend (or break) all of the rules.
- Try to find a title that will still be relevant and memorable in ten or twenty (or longer) years from now. For example, if writing a fitness book, it’s a safe bet that people twenty years from now will still be striving for a perfectly flat tummy.
- Think of a title that will not need too much explanation. Imagine if you were in the grocery store and ran into an acquaintance. You tell them that you just wrote a book and they respond with something like; “Wow! That’s great! What is it called?” and that’s when you hit them with a fantastic book title!
- Keep a notebook with you and jot down random ideas.
- Ask people you trust to help you come up with suggestions. Sometimes, as authors we get so wrapped up in the character building, scenes, plots, etc. that we just don’t have any creativity left over for the essential title of the book! Tell them you are trying to create a book title that sells well; you may get some additional feedback from real readers.
Finally, consider your book’s purpose. Choose a book title that not only sells well, but something that brands well. That implies choosing something that you can build upon. Your book title should be meaningful and something that you love just as much as your readers do.