How to Write a Book Title

Writing a book title is an important action that requires consideration and insight. Leaving it to chance or luck, personal emotion or guesswork can ruin your success as an author.

How to Write a Book Title

Writing a book title is an important action that requires consideration and insight. Leaving it to chance or luck, personal emotion or guesswork can ruin your success as an author.

“How to write a book title?”

A lot of aspiring authors ask this question and yet never seem to find a good answer.

There is very little information or guidance on how to write a book title. More often than not, there are tips of little use or weight. Consider these book title tips you might have seen or heard:

“Go with your instincts”

“Trust your gut”

“Look for inspiration/ideas from other books”

“Don’t think about it too much”

"Make it memorable"

"Make it catchy or witty"

While these bits of advice could work for some books some of the time, they're not the best advice to give every author. Why? Because there is too much left to chance.

Writing a book title is an important decision that requires consideration and insight. More often than not, authors leave their book's title to "clever" ideas, personal emotion or guesswork.

The fact is, book titles usually never work out well when their inventions stem from a personal perspective. This is because it really means they are marketing to themselves and not the public—the specific audience one is trying to get attention from.

Basing one's actions on the idea that "everyone else thinks like I do" is a recipe for disaster. We never really know what an ideal cover design, book title, chapter title, etc. is until we survey the audience who your book is for.

The fact remains that just because the author likes their title doesn't mean other people will. Without question, referring to one's own perspective is not the way to go.

From what I have seen over the past 21 years, most aspiring authors guess at almost everything they do with their books. They just "wing it". But that's a very dangerous game to play with your reputation, money, time, passion, effort...don't you think?

As a writer, you must remember that, just as most writers take time in creating their perfect blog title and companies put in effort to naming their products, so should you invest some investigation into creating your book's title.

It's not guesswork... it never is. There are many things that go into creating a book title. Most of these things dictate what your title should be instead of what YOU want it to be.

Quite often, we base our personal decisions on emotion and passion instead of statistics and proven facts about human behavior.

In this Quick-Start Guide, you'll learn some amazing tips on how to write a book title. See which make the most sense to you. Use logic, and leave emotion and personal perference out of it.

But first, here are the important fundamentals...

Technical Aspect to Writing Book Titles

Without question, the best way to know ANYTHING about your audience is with survey. Surveying comes in many different forms, but the main point for this quick-Start Guide is that there is information to be gleaned from the actions of your audience.

There's a creative side to coming up with book titles as well as a technical side. To be leagues above your competition, it is vital that you consider how books are ranked on the internet and even categorized in 'brick and mortar' book stores.

Imagine going to a book store and asking for a book on fitness. Now imagine that the clerk helping you hands you your book over thousands of other possibilities she could have chosen. That would be pretty incredible, right?

It's like having people working for your book specifically, making their customers find out about you and your book over countless others!

By knowing what words to use in your title can make all the difference.

Let's take Amazon, for instance. If we understand that our book is mingled within a sea of millions of other books, and that we have to make ours the one people are "handed" when searching for your type of book and the information it supplies, it becomes possible to create a book title that is based on what your audience is asking for.

That's right. There is an ethical way to influence your book's exposure and visibility when it comes to the Internet, and even book stores.

Although doing this activity, correctly, can often make your book hit the Bestseller's lists, this isn't a foolproof, easy thing to do. But without question, by doing all you can to increase the likelyhood of book buyers and bookstore managers finding your book over others, you stand a chance of having more book sales directly from this one action.

This is for another Quick-Start Guide that will only be revealed to paying members of Author Utopia (AU) , for good reason. It's only fair that members who are investing (very little) money each month to learn game-changing esoteric information, it just wouldn't be fair to them for me to just give this kind of data away to non-members. Loyalty runs in both directions.

But for me to even share that this even exists is very powerful just the same. We have to first learn WHAT is available before we can begin to learn HOW to DO those things properly. So, if you're not a paying member, you've still way above your competition with the knowledge you're gaining from this Guide.

Coming up with a Killer Book Title

So, the words of your title need to fulfill two key aspects:

  1. search term knowledge (what people are typing to find your book)
  2. the information supplied below

There is more, which I will most certainly share with you here at AU, but the above are two vital elements for success with your book.

Bottom line is, without a killer book title, your book will be lost in the sea of competing and non-competing books.

The book title is the first thing your reader will read or hear about your book, which is why it’s important to make it compelling.

Your title forms the basis of judgment for your readers regarding your book.

Take this example: Oscar Wilde’s Pen, Pencil and Poison sold 5,000 copies, when the title changed to The Story of a Notorious Criminal, it sold 15,800 copies.

To get you started, here are 5 Features that can help you know how to write a book title:

1. Compelling

As a person yourself, there are literally millions of things that can capture your attention, one more than the other. Having the right title allows you to stand out and give that slapping first impression that your readers won’t forget.

Here are some ways you can capture attention to your title:

  • Be provocative
  • Be controversial
  • Make it exciting
  • Make a promise

The main point of this is so that people stop to look at your title!

Your goal is to make a statement. The only thing worse than a bad feedback is a lukewarm comment where all you hear is “Looks okay.” or “Seems good.”

Our tip? Make a bang!

2. Memorable

A book title is not just something that names your story, it’s the first thing your reader sees/hears and it’s the only thing that leads readers to your book.

People will remember titles. If someone enjoyed your story so much, chances are, they’re going to remember the title because that’s what they’ll associate the story with. Don’t you think it’s worth taking the time to make it memorable?

If people enjoy your book so much, they’d be telling all their friends about it and what will they say? Exactly. Your title.

Moreover, your title needs to be spotted quickly. Your title has to be memorable enough to be memorized quickly so that people can search for it quickly as well.

In today’s times, the easier your book is remembered, the higher the chances of your book being searchable.

3. Informative

The title, in fiction books, needs to worry about this the least, but for non-fiction writers, the title (including the subtitle), should give the reader some sort of idea about what the book is about.

Again, since the title is the first thing to be seen by your readers, the very thing that would make them grab your book is that they form an idea about what it’s about and if it’s compelling enough, they might just head out with it.

Don’t try to be super clever or try using titles that are completely off from your story. A clever title is good but if it sends unclear signals, it makes people who don’t get it right away feel a bit silly. They probably won’t buy it. Yikes.

But remember, though your book title needs to be informative and understandable, don’t give up the whole story in it. Save some for your reader’s imagination!

4. Easy to Pronounce

This plays a big part in creating a title. It should be easy to pronounce and would not be embarrassing to say out loud. People are more likely to remember and respond to words or phrases that they can understand and pronounce. Imagine putting a title in Thai but you’re putting it out to an American audience.

Don’t risk your book’s reception with a title that not even you can pronounce. People don’t like to feel socially awkward. If your title is hard to pronounce, it makes it less likely to be picked up and be bought.

5. Brief

By this time you already know that short and simple are the best. They make titles more memorable and easier to say and remember. Your readers will thank you for this, no doubt.

Other than that, it gives your cover more space!

People usually create titles that are long to give the readers an idea when in reality, you can do that even with just a single word. Stick to your core idea. Want to add to it? You have the subtitle for that.

Our tip? Keep it at around 5 words or less if possible. You can add all the context you need in the subtitle.

Now that we’ve discussed the features of a good book title, it’s time to get into...

How To Write A Book Title

There are two aspects to a book title: the main title, and sometimes a subtitle.

When you look at your competition, you'll notice that most books just have a main title except when thy are non-fition. More on this a little later, for now, here are steps to follow...

Step 1. Set clear book goals

This determines the goals of your book and the kind of title you pick for it.

There are different ways to brand your non-fiction book and the titles differ that if you were to publish say a fantasy adventure.

Before we walk you through the process of how to write a book title, we’ll enumerate the functions of book titles and what they can be used for:

  • Sell the book
  • Establish the author’s authority and knowledge about the topic
  • Serves as the hook to get visibility
  • Branding for the author
  • Used as reference in speeches, slides, reviews, articles, etc.
  • Becomes a defining part of an author’s arsenal
  • Start a line of books
  • Can be used as promotional material
  • Brand a main character

What is it that you want for your book to achieve? Make sure that you set your goals so that you can set a defined path for where you want your book to go.

Step 2. Come up with different potential titles

This isn’t a one-time process or something you can do in under an hour. It will take you a long while, weeks, or even months to think of every possible book title idea to finalize a single one.

To make things easier for you, you can try brainstorming titles. Collect and select. Write down every possible title you’ve thought of in a list. If you’re having a hard time, don’t worry; there is no single way of coming up with titles, but there are a lot of best practices. Try these out for yourself!

  • Use catchy phrases from your book

This works well in fiction books but can also work in non-fiction where the concept can be summed up with a single phrase.

  • Use phrases that are both short and long

We’ve discussed that short titles are the best (no more than 5 words), but you can always add more context in your subtitles.

  • Use keywords

You want to make sure that when someone searches for your book, it will come up on Google or any other site, but of course, never sacrifice the authenticity of your work just for the searches.

One more tip we have is to use your keywords in your subtitles because more often than not, main subtitles hold more of the context of your book.

  • State a promise or benefit

Some readers see promises in a book as some sort of prize when they finish it. Promising in titles is like helping readers achieve that certain goal or promising that they get something after reading the book which makes them pick it up more often.

  • Use simplicity and directness

You’d be surprised how basic statements make the best titles. This could work best especially for instructional books

  • Target your audience through your titles

People use titles to gauge if they’d be willing to invest their time in reading your book. Targeting your readers through your title is part of helping them understand what you’re writing about. You can try targeting specific audiences by naming them or by describing how they are.

  • Offer a solution

We’ve told you that the title is your single marketing tool. Offering a solution in your title will bring the readers in. Similar to the promise of a benefit, writing titles like these not only targets a specific audience, but also helps them solve a problem.

  • Make use of numbers

Numbers add credibility and urgency to your titles. They can simplify your subject or add depth to it.

  • Pique your readers’ interest

Use statements that seem to be impossible/unusual. You can use paradoxes to make the readers curious. The main idea of this kind of title is to make a claim that seems out of reach, but will promise delivery.

  • Use metaphors or symbolisms in your book

By using these devices, you can help create a title that sticks to your audience.

  • Use Alliteration

As we’ve said, make use of literary devices like Alliteration. This is the use of the same letter at the beginning of most of the words in your title. It makes your title memorable.

  • Put a spin on popular phrases

This is a common tip that works well. Take a famous phrase and alter it in a way that it suits your book. It works because it’s familiar to people.

  • Try creating your own word

This could prove to be helpful when you want to create a brand for yourself. Although fair warning, this isn’t an easy task. Many authors create new words but very few succeed in creating one that sticks. Our tip is to make it easy to say and understand.

  • Use copywriting techniques for your ideas

Try to read some books about copywriting if you’re ever in a rut. They don’t work specifically on book titling but they are experts in selling products. These books can give you tons of useful tips!

Step 3. Check the legalities

Let us start off by saying that it is impossible to copyright titles. Copying a popular book’s title can make it very hard for your own to stand out, not to mention the guaranteed negative reactions it will get from the original’s patrons.

You can, however, trademark a title if it’s part of a larger brand. Take the term “Bulletproof” for example, it’s trademarked in the health and fitness spectrum which is why you (probably) can’t name a book with that word in it.

If this is confusing for you, you can always consult the help of an IP attorney to walk you over the legalities of naming your book.

Step 4. Sort it out

When you finally have your extremely long list of titles you want to use, you can now start sorting and picking out your favorites.

Remember, there will always be different opinions about book titles but what remains to be the most important opinion is yours.

To ensure that you’re choosing the best title, here are simple tests you can do:

A. What if people said it out loud?

Imagine if your readers say your title out loud. If you can imagine them saying it confidently with people listening to them and understanding what the book is about even with just the title, then you’ve got yourself a good title!

B. See if it clicks.

If you can, you can always utilize Google Adwords and a quick keyword research to see if the title you’ve thought of is something that people actually search for. This saves you the time in doing a trial and error process.

Moreover, you can always utilize a survey that would let you in on what your potential audience will think about your title.

We’ve talked about how to write a book title and how to test it but if we were to give you tips on how NOT to test your title, this will be it.

More often than not, your social media friends are not your audience. Because your friends and family have this need to make you feel happy. They want to make you feel and look good without telling you what or how to do so.

Colleagues on the other hand will be critical. They might become jealous. This happens often and they’ll sometimes give you bad advice just to get ahead of you.

Remember, when you start getting opinions from different sources who are not who you want to target, you start to get confused and lost about what you really want.

Do you need a subtitle?

If you’re working with non-fiction, most likely so.

The title is the hook and your subtitle is your explanation. For a non-fiction book, it’ll be hard for you to explain a certain topic without it. Your subtitle allows you to explain further into a topic you want your readers to know about.

Books need a subtitle to contextualize the topic talked about in the main title. It tells the reader what to expect and possibly even the depth and extent of the content of the book.

There are a lot of different ways on how to write a book title and although there isn’t a single equation, there are multiple choices. You are free to mix and match to see which one will work best for you.

Take your time. Figure out the best title for your book at your own pace. You might not realize this but the question “how to write a book title” is a personal question that needs to consider others.

Remember that his article is only a guide and is not meant to mandate the steps of titling your book. What you do is completely up to you and a part of your creative process.

We hope that you were able to understand how to write a book title in this comprehensive guide we prepared for you.

If you’re interested in learning more writing tips and tricks, don’t forget to head on to our blog section!

To Your Success!

Robert Nahas, Founder