How to Write Good Book Titles: Where Do You Start?
Posted by Michael DeHoyos
What are the attributes of a good book? Plot, storyline, writing style, you might be thinking. And all of these are crucial, yes; but completely unimportant if no one even opens the cover. One of the keys to getting your book read is a good title. So, what is a good title? What quantifies a title as ‘good’? That is what we are going to explore in this article.
A good title can make or break the success of a book, and even the success of you as an author. The title is what people will notice first; whether online or in person in a bookstore. A memorable and intriguing title will stick in people’s minds, meaning that if they hear it in a conversation, see it on a poster, or in an online ad, they will remember it to look for it later. A good book title should be unique, intriguing, and make people want to know more. It should give the reader a glimpse of what they might get to read about, while simultaneously tempting them to open the cover and learn more. In this article I will be examining 5 attributes of a good book title and 4 aspects to think about when making your book title decision.
Five Attributes of a Good Book Title
A unique book title should grab the attention of the person who reads it. Your title should sum up the essence of what your book is about and provoke an air of curiosity in the potential reader. A unique title is memorable, as it will not just fade into the reader’s distant memory when their next thought occurs.
Your title should be provocative, different, and catch the eye of a person just walking by. Think about what would catch your attention if you were strolling through a bookstore, and what would make an impression on you.
3. Easy to Remember:
Make sure that your book title is easy to remember; poignant and engaging. If your title is too long or uses words that can easily fade into the background, it will not be remembered. A great example of a memorable title is George Orwell’s classic ‘Animal Farm'.
4. Easy to Pronounce:
A memorable title does not have to be a complex, foreign, or overly complicated word. No one will talk about a book if they cannot even pronounce its name.
5. Avoid Confusion with Other Works:
The shortcut is not to piggyback on another book’s success through similar or copycat naming; and it definitely is not to title your book after one that has failed in the past! Some writers do not even do this on purpose, but simply do not conduct enough research when planning the title of their book. Research is key!
Four Important Book Title Aspects to Think About
It is important to lay out the foundation of what categories your book falls into before deciding on a title. Your first thought may be right but going with your gut is not the only key to deciding on your book’s title. Fiction and Nonfiction books will have starkly different titles; and titles will also differ based on genre, and even based on things as simple and seemingly trivial as marketing strategy or where your book will be sold. To help with this process, here are 4 additional factors to assess when deciding on your book’s title.
1. The Intrigue Factor
Nothing grabs a reader’s attention more than intrigue. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but the cat would have had a fun time in its first eight lives. Intrigue is important in capturing attention even for an established author, but absolutely crucial if your writing is in its early stages of exposure. “Engage your readers with a topic that they simply cannot wait to read more about; not one that they could take or leave. An interesting title indicates an interesting book,” says Hillary Adams, a book blogger.
2. Title Discoverability
Well known authors who have established fan bases and a large established following are blessed with being able to think less about this. Discoverability. You need to curate a title that is easily identifiable and unique, but also discoverable. It needs to fit the target market you are aiming to distribute to and be identifiable by them easily. For example, if you are writing a non-fiction book about parenting, a generic title such as ‘How To’ is unlikely to capture the specific audience you want or to turn up in the search results of the right people. Your title will play into how likely your book is to turn up in search results on any search engine or website, so keep this in mind. “Sometimes the best thing to do is be simple and straight forward with your title, especially when it comes to nonfiction. With fiction however, there is much more wiggle room and it is harder to nail down a search result through your title,” explains Diana Larson, a writer.
3. Genre Mesh
Make sure your title fits your genre! This may seem like an obvious one, but many first-time authors make this mistake in an attempt to be ‘clever’ or skirt genre norms and ‘stand out’; and it is actually a massive mistake! Naming your romance novel, ‘Battle’, will decrease the likelihood of it turning up in the correct search results, catching the attention of the right reader in a bookstore, or standing out to your target audience. Make sure that your title fits with your target market and your genre as a whole.
4. Is the Title Informative?
Your title must be informative, and if it is not, your subtitle must! For non-fiction books this is crucial, and it is even important (and harder) for fiction works. Your title must be unique and intriguing yes, but it still must give the reader a general idea of what your book might be about.
Coming up with a title for your book is not straightforward, and certainly not as simple as ‘go with your gut’ advice that might be coming your way at the moment. A title must capture the attention of the right people, intrigue people enough to leave them wanting more, but also be informative enough to give people a taste of what they will experience when they open the cover. Happy brainstorming!
About the Author:
Michael DeHoyos is an article writer, online blogger, and proof-reader for Write My Literature Review. He assists websites and businesses in developing their online marketing strategies and business plans.
Image credits: 1. Based on Yeven Popov’s original at Freepik 2. Rachel Claire at Pexels 3. Renee Fisher at Unsplash 4. Yogendra Singh at Pexels.