I’ve you’ve ever told your friends and family that you’re writing a book, I bet the first thing they asked you was, ‘What’s it about?’ And then they probably said, ‘What’s it called?’ So it’s no wonder that authors tend to get a bit fixated on their book title right from the beginning. After all, it’s nice to have a hook to hang your book on, and having a title in mind is a great way of doing that.
Your book title will have a major impact on whether or not people buy it – especially if they come across it online without having been introduced to it by you or someone they know. Next to the cover design, it’s the single most important pre-purchase feature. So how do you choose the perfect title for your business book? Here are some quick and easy ways to generate ideas:
1) Think about the end benefit your readers will get from your book. What is your book helping them to achieve? For instance, if you’re helping people to overcome their fears, and by doing that they’re more likely to enjoy their life, your title could be something like ‘Learn to beat your fears and love your life’.
2) If a more quirky approach suits you, you may want to think about having a strapline or an explanatory sentence after the title, so that people know what it’s about. So if your book title is, for example, ‘Stone the Crows’, you could add a line afterwards: ‘Beating your Fears One by One’.
3) What kind of feeling do you want to generate in your potential readers when they see your title? Do you want them to feel inspired, excited, relieved, angry, in control, knowledgeable – or some other emotion? If you want them to feel relieved, ‘Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep’ by Jodi Mindell and Judith Owens is a great example: at last, someone’s telling me how to get my kids to sleep!
4) Who’s your target audience, and how are you going to bring them into your title? In my last post on niching your book audience I talked about why having a tightly defined audience is so important for your book’s success. There’s no better way to let your potential readers know that they’ve come to the right place than if they can recognise themselves in the title, and you can do this in subtle ways. For example, ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich’ by Lois P. Frankel makes it clear within the title that the book is aimed at women who want to improve their finances.
5) What position will your book occupy in the lives of your readers? Is it an all-encompassing guide to a particular area of their life, a ‘starter’ help book, a step by step set of instructions – or what? Knowing this will help you to come up with a title that matches your readers’ desires and expectations. For example, ‘How to Get Your Blog Up and Running in One Day’ is clearly aimed at people who don’t have a blog at all and want to get started quickly and easily; it’s not promising to take you through the whole journey of turning your blog into a global success. Being honest with your readers in this way will gain you loyal fans.
6) Find ways to keep your title fairly short; think about your book cover and how it will work on there.
7) Think like a blogger! You could use some tried and trusted title openers such as ‘How to’, ‘7 Ways to’, ‘The Surefire Way to’, ‘Why You Should Never’.
Then, once you’ve come up with some ideas, the next step is to research your competitor titles. Of course you could do this right at the beginning, as it could give you some inspiration, but some people prefer to come up with their own suggestions without that distraction. It’s important to avoid duplicating the name of a book in a similar category or field, as you want yours to stand out. Just put your title into the Amazon search and this will quickly tell you if there is a duplication issue. If there is, you might only need to tweak your title for it to work.
And finally, think about the keywords in your title as the right keywords will help it to rank highly in search results. There’s more to keywords than just the title of course, as this post by Joanna Penn explains, but having the right search phrases in your title can make a big difference to how easily your book is found. And of course these search words need to be the ones that your target audience would use, not you.
Remember, your title has one role and one role only: to encourage (or rather, drive) your potential reader to pick it up, consider it and then buy your book. But it can also be a lot of fun choosing your title – it makes your book ‘real’. And one day it will have your name under it. How cool is that?
What’s the best book title you’ve come across? I’d love to know – drop me a comment below.