Here’s the sad truth about being an author. You can write the best book – one that will impact many lives. But if you don’t package it correctly then your book won’t sell. And the first part of packaging is deciding how to title your book.
On most publishing platforms (including Amazon’s KDP) a book has a title and a subtitle. Although subtitle is optional, please don’t skip it. The subtitle is an added opportunity to “sell” your book.
Also, by incorporating keywords into your subtitle, you give readers one more way to discover your book when searching on a topic. We’ll talk more about keywords later in this article.
And if you haven’t finished writing your book yet, then check out this article which walks you through the steps to write a book in eight weeks or less.
How To Title Your Book
Okay, here’s what you want to do to create a compelling book title.
Start by brainstorming ten or more title ideas. Write your ideas down and keep coming back to the list. It may take several days (or even weeks) to come up with a great set of title and subtitle combinations. Your first idea is rarely your best.
When brainstorming, you can try any of the following methods to come up with ideas:
1. WYSIWYG Method
This stands for What You See Is What You Get. In my WYSIWYG strategy, you name your book after the exact outcome it delivers. Bestselling authors know their audience and give their readers an outcome they want.
EXAMPLE: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
2. Curiosity Method
The second strategy for coming up with your book title is to use intrigue. This works because it entices people to click on your book in the store to find out more. Get people curious about what your book might offer.
EXAMPLE: The Upside of Irrationality.
3. Controversy Method
This strategy is a variation of the curiosity method. You capture your reader’s attention by making an outrageous or controversial statement.
EXAMPLE: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
4 Inspirational Method
Inspirational titles create desire in the reader. They tap into some deep-seated need or bring hope to your target audience.
EXAMPLE: Carry On Warrior.
Come Up With A Subtitle
Once you have ten or more title ideas, you want to brainstorm subtitles.
Regardless of which approach you take with your title, the subtitle is your opportunity to sell. For a nonfiction book, this is where you make your big promise.
Ask yourself these two questions:
1. How will someone’s life be changed by reading your book?
2. What significant outcome does your book offer?
A strong subtitle communicates the answers to these questions to potential readers. Aim to come up with ten or more subtitle ideas.
Once you have your subtitle ideas, play around with the wording. Try to fit one or more keywords into your subtitle. Keywords are the words or phrase a user types into the Amazon (or other) search bar when looking for a book on your topic.
Having said this, never add keywords at the expense of clarity. It’s far more important that your book title and cover appeal directly to your ideal readers.
SUBTITLE EXAMPLE: The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
Test Your Favorite Titles
When you’ve exhausted your title and subtitle ideas, you want to select your favorite options and test them out.
So how do you test your title? And why not just pick one and go with it?
Well, you could just pick your favorite. But sometimes we think we know what our target readers want but we’re wrong. And sometimes we get paralyzed by indecision.
Either way, your next step is to test your best ideas. The following are three tests you can use to finalize your title and subtitle.
1. The Flow Test
Start by saying your title and subtitle out loud. Ask yourself: Is it awkward to say, or does it flow easily? Are any of the words difficult to pronounce?
Tweak or discard any titles that don’t flow easily.
2. The Book Cover Test
Next, make sure your title and subtitle fit your book cover. They should be easy to read when the cover image is scaled down to thumbnail size.
Dump any titles that are too long to fit on a cover.
3. The Ideal Reader Test
Finally, make sure your title appeals to your target reader. You can do this by asking people directly. Make sure you ask your ideal readers, rather than those who would never buy your book.
Join Facebook Groups or forums where your target audience congregates. Make a post and ask people which title and subtitle combination they prefer. This is a quick way to gather a lot of feedback.
If you want to go a step further, you can create an anonymous poll. This helps you get more unbiased feedback. You can use a free tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform.
When you build your survey, give a brief description of your book. Then, create a multiple-choice question asking people to select the title and subtitle combination they like best. Lastly, include an optional field where people can give you additional feedback.
Share your survey in targeted communities where your ideal readers gather. You may get fewer replies than if you ask people directly. However, the responses are more likely to be an honest reflection of people’s preferences.
One last word of advice. If you’re like me and struggle to come up with something creative, then remember – simple titles work just as well as clever ones.
The books in my Paid to Stay Home series follow the same basic formula. Here’s my first title:
Make Money On Airbnb: How To Quickly And Easily Earn $2000 A Month From Your Home
All my books reached bestseller status in at least one Amazon category. And all of them continue to sell today. Sometimes simple really is best (or at least more than good enough!)
That brings us to the end. Here’s a quick summary of how to title your book:
1. In your favorite journal or in the workbook start brainstorming title ideas. Keep adding to the list of ideas over a period of at least a few days.
2. Next, add your subtitle ideas to the list you started in the previous step.
3. Finally, test your favorite title and subtitle ideas and pick one winning combination.
Now, go create your compelling book title. And please don’t rush this step. You want to come up with a title you and your future readers love. It’s a key part of packaging your book to sell.
If you’d like to learn more about hoe to publish a bestselling book, check out Make Money From Kindle Self-Publishing. My book shows you how to become a best-selling nonfiction author, help thousands of readers, and earn a recurring income.