How to Choose a Book Title

One of the hardest things about writing a book is choosing the title. In a world where there are millions of books available and all you can see on the Amazon sales page is a thumbnail of the cover and the title, you need to find THE perfect title that’s catchy and imaginative whilst appealing to your ideal reader and conveying to them exactly what your book is all about and why they should buy it. But not only does your title need to appeal to your human reader, it also needs to be effective enough for Amazon’s algorithm to select it and deliver it when anyone searches on the site for something like your book. This means including the right keywords in the title or subtitle to tell the computer what your book is about, whilst still being appealing enough for people browsing the bookstore to take a punt on it. Phew… That’s a tough call!

Although choosing the right title is really important, you don’t need to have the title nailed down before you get the book written. In fact, writing the book may help you come up with the title because there might be a random phrase or a recurring idea that pushes its way to the front. But don’t get bogged down in choosing the title now because you might end up not actually writing the book – and what use is a title without a book to give it to?

book title

How to choose a book title

I would suggest you start thinking about the title now, bearing in mind the points below, and let it bubble away in your mind while you’re writing the book. At some point, ideas will start to come through, so make a note of them and then come back to them at a later stage.

There are five things your book title needs to be.

Attention-grabbing

The worst thing anyone could say about your title is that it’s ‘nice’, because, in this instance, nice means bland, and bland doesn’t stand out. Whether your book is in a bricks-and-mortar store or on a webpage, you want its title to grab people’s attention, even if that’s for the wrong reasons! Just like Marmite, a strong, eye-catching title is going to be loved and hated in equal measure – and that’s fine! You’re not going to appeal to everyone anyway, and an intriguing or even controversial title will at least get people talking about you.

Memorable

Your book title also needs to be memorable. How many times have you heard someone speak highly about a book they’ve read but when you ask them what it’s called, they can’t remember? “Oh, I’ll look it up when I get home and send you the link,” they tell you, and that’s the last you hear about it. So make sure the title will stick in people’s minds so they can go home and search for it and, hopefully, buy it!

Informative

With non-fiction books especially, you need to make sure your title is informative; that is, it tells people what your book is about and gives some sort of indication that it’s right for them. This is often achieved through using a subtitle. For example, my latest book is called What’s Your Story? which is catchy but vague, but the subtitle Take your non-fiction book from possibility to plan to publication… and beyond! gives a much clearer picture of what the book is about and who it is for.

Easy to say and easy to spell

This speaks for itself. If your book title uses some bizarre or archaic word that people don’t know how to spell, even if they get as far as remembering it, then it’s going to be tricky for anyone to search for it. They are also less likely to recommend it if the title is unpronounceable – either through bizarre spelling or because it’s embarrassing to say!

Not too long

To achieve all the above you need your book title to be short and snappy, and no more than five words long. Longer titles can work but in most cases, shorter is better. You can, of course, use a subtitle to give more information about what the book is actually about. 3-5 words allows you to come up with something catchy and memorable, and then you can expand on what the book is about with a longer subtitle that includes useful keywords. If you do go for a longer main title, make sure it is memorable, attention-grabbing and easily trips off the tongue!


So how do you choose a title? I would suggest you mull it over for a while and see what comes to mind. it’s amazing what can pop into your head at the most unexpected moments. You could also use a title generator – there are lots online – or simply brainstorm around your topic to get a few ideas to be going on with, and then see what comes up from there.

Once you’ve found an idea, or a few ideas, put them out to the public test! Ask friends and family (or, even better, your ideal readers) what they think of the title – does it appeal to them, and, more importantly, what would they expect a book with that title to be about?

Have fun!


“What’s Your Story?”

WHAT’S YOUR STORY? Take your non-fiction book from possibility to plan to publication… and beyond takes everything I’ve learned through writing books myself and helping my clients to write and self-publish books, and delivers it to you in a conversational, friendly way.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY? is available now from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

The book takes you through the six key stages of writing, publishing and promoting a non-fiction book, and looks at some of the opportunities that can come about as the result of being an author.

If you’ve ever thought about writing a non-fiction book but have not known how to start, you need this book!

Buy your copy today!

What does WHAT’S YOUR STORY cover?

Part 1 – Planning Your Book

  • Why Do You Want to Write a Book?
  • What The Heck Are You Going to Write About?!
  • Structuring and Finetuning Your Content
  • WIIFT? and WIIFM?
  • Who is Your Ideal Reader?
  • Guide, Memoir or Manual?
  • Research
  • Choosing Your Book Title

Part 2 – Writing Your Book

  • How Are You Going to Write Your Book?
  • Where to Write
  • When to Write
  • Writing Tips and Tricks
  • How Long Should Your Book Be?

Part 3: Editing Your Book

  • What Does Editing Mean?
  • The First, Second, Third … Fourth … Fifth Edit!
  • Beta Readers
  • Why Bother with a Proofreader?

Part 4: Publishing Your Book

  • A Bit of Background History on Printing
  • Traditional Publishing
  • Hybrid/Partner Publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Print Book, E-book, or Audiobook?
  • Choosing a Self-publishing Platform
  • All About ISBNs
  • How Do You Price Your Book?
  • My Own Publishing Story

Part 5: Formatting Your Book

  • What Do I Mean by ‘Formatting’?
  • Formatting Your Book for Self-published Print Format
  • Formatting Your E-book
  • Cover Design
  • Uploading Your Book
  • Five Things to Do Once Your Book Has Been Published

Part 6: Promoting Your Book

  • Why You Need to Promote Your Book
  • Build a Website
  • Social Media
  • Run a Competition
  • Plan a Book Launch
  • Media Coverage
  • Reviews
  • Local Bookstores
  • Advertising
  • Amazon Price Reductions, Giveaways and Countdown Deals
  • Podcasts, Interviews, Book Tours

Part 7: What’s Next? Making the Most of Opportunities

  • Be Seen as an Expert
  • Become a Media Darling!
  • Public Speaking
  • Voluntary Work
  • Running Events
  • A Whole New Business
  • A Change to an Existing Business

Checklist

Resources

Why Write a Book Anyway?

It’s thought that around 80% of us want to write a book, but of those books that are actually started (and who knows how many people get beyond just thinking about it), 97% are never completed. Which suggests that fewer than 1% of people actually successfully write and publish a book! There are many reasons why that is the case, but one of the biggest is lack of motivation. Writing a book is not easy. It involves time and effort. And quite often, people know they want to write a book, but they don’t ever explore why they want to do it. Yet when you know the reason behind your desire to become an author, you feel more motivated to get on with it and complete the book, because you have a vision in mind of the end result.

However, ask ten authors why they write and every one will have a different answer. Some of the most common reasons to write a book are:

  • For your own personal pleasure
  • To achieve a dream
  • To boost confidence
  • To become known as an expert
  • As a business marketing tool
  • To open doors to new opportunities
  • To create a source of income
  • To become rich and famous!
  • To share your unique expertise, knowledge and experience
  • To help other people

So let’s go a little bit deeper into some of those reasons.

A typewriter, an old-fashioned way of being able to write a book

Millions of people write simply for the fun of it, with no particular desire for their work to reach a wider audience. And that’s absolutely fine – but I have to warn you that while writing can be a pleasurable activity, writing with the aim of publishing a book can sometimes feel like hard work. Disciplining yourself to sit down every day and write, even when you’re not in the mood for it, can feel like a real chore. And once you let other people see your work, you need to be prepared to accept their feedback – and it won’t always be kind! If you’re a hobby writer who wants to take that one step further, you need to develop a thick skin. Writing is like putting your heart and soul out there for everyone to see, and if you don’t want to expose yourself like that, then maybe becoming a published author is not the right direction to take.

However, once you start to write you may harbour a secret desire to share your stories with the world. Hands up if you wanted to be an author when you were a child? It seemed like such an impossible dream back then, but today it’s within the reach of everyone to have their work published (although that’s not necessarily to say that everyone SHOULD be a published author – but that’s a discussion for another day!).

Being able to say: “I wrote a book; I am an author” is a confidence booster and even now, when technology makes it so much easier for us all to publish our work, it still carries some kudos. Tell people you’ve written a book and almost without exception they will be impressed and want to know more!

Writing a book is also a huge personal achievement because it’s not as easy as people think. Yes, you might have really good ideas, but to actually be able to put those into some sort of order, and then sit down and write enough to constitute a book, and edit it and format it and design a cover and find a way to publish it – that takes hard work, and dedication, and time, and, depending on how you go about it, money.

Another reason to write a book is to raise your profile as an expert in your field. For some strange reason, even if you self-publish your book (and we’ll talk more about that later), being a published author raises your status and sets you apart from all the other dentists / marketers / accountants etc. in the room. Some of my clients use their books as marketing tools for their business – by giving away a chunk of their knowledge for free to prospective customers, they hope those people will appreciate it so much they come back as paying clients. And you know what? It works! 

One lesser-known reason is that writing a book opens up opportunities. In fact, many people don’t realise that writing the book can be just the start of the adventure – if you want it to be. From media coverage and book tours to writing commissions, speaking gigs and even whole new business opportunities, writing a book can be the catalyst to a whole new life. Of course, it’s entirely up to you to look for and take up these opportunities; if you simply want to publish your book and be done with it, that’s perfectly okay too.

So write your book for fun, for the experience, for the kudos, the raised profile and potential opportunities – but PLEASE don’t write a book for money! The average book sells just 1000 copies across its lifetime, so even at the highest level of royalties you may not even cover your costs, once you’ve paid for editing/proofreading, formatting and cover design. Okay, if you’re the next J.K. Rowling then maybe you will be able to retire on the profits, but otherwise, it’s unlikely your book is going to make you much money.

Talking of famous authors, if you’re writing because you want to be famous, then ask yourself what you define as fame. You’re unlikely to become a household name but it’s perfectly possible to become famous in your particular field, if that’s what you want. It’s all a case of positioning yourself as THE expert and making the most of the opportunities that come your way.

For me, the most important reason for writing a book is to share expertise, experiences and knowledge in a way that can help other people. I truly believe we are all wonderful fascinating beings and we all have something amazing to say. “Oh, but there are already a hundred books about starting a business / training dogs / running a marathon,” I hear you say. “Why would anyone be interested in reading mine?”

And my reply is always the same. “People will want to your read your book simply because it’s written by YOU! And there is no one else in this world that has your unique combination of experience, opinion and knowledge, no one. And that means you can say things that no one else has ever said, or ever heard – and you never know, what you say might just make a difference!”

When I wrote my first book, about raising a child with ADHD, my aim was that by sharing my own story, I might be able to help other families. However, the overwhelming thought running through my mind was “Who on earth cares what I have to say, anyway?” Within days of publication, I received an email from a parent who said: “Thank you for giving me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.” WOW! If that was the only feedback I ever received, I could die happy! Sharing your unique story is one of the most motivating and rewarding reasons to write a book.

I wrote my book simply because it was something I’d always wanted to do. You may have a totally different reason for wanting to become an author – and if it’s not on my list, please do let me know your motivation for writing!

Thanks to Unsplash for the image