Jen was sitting in a theater last week, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and marveling at how perfect it was, soup to nuts (and no, she didn’t travel in a Delorean back to 1981). Then she started thinking about the title and realized it was pretty spot-on as well. Not only did it evoke adventure and a certain disregard for the rules, it really does a great job at describing WHAT the movie’s about.
When we go about titling our book projects, we might focus on either something that’s going to be sexy or intriguing, OR descriptive and literal.
Guess what? It’s important to consider both.
Most nonfiction books also have a subtitle, and possibly an additional “reading line”—an extra line on the cover that specifically conveys a promise to the reader. When beginning to ponder your title/subtitle, there are several things to keep in mind: It should be intriguing, of course, but—particularly if it’s nonfiction—it also needs to clearly convey the book’s concept and be easily searchable for those shopping online.
Keep these considerations in mind as you work on your title:
- Your title should deliver the promise of your book (Body for Life, Good Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office), but be careful to choose a title that the book will actually deliver on.
- Consider using numbers as a take-away for reader, in either title or subtitle: Thin Thighs in 30 Days!, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Don’t discount the importance of a subtitle or additional reading line. It can elaborate and offer more of the book’s promise, allowing you to use a shorter, snappier title (Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses)
- Think about online searches when titling your book (Jen’s book, It’s All Relative, became Beyond the Family Tree: A 21st-Century Guide to Exploring Your Roots and Creating Connections to cross paths with consumers looking for genealogy books who might type “family tree” into a search engine).
Still think titles aren’t that big of a deal? Well, imagine if these bestsellers had been titled differently:
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Using Traditional Chinese Parenting Techniques to Raise a Successful Child
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Men Who Hate Women (original Swedish title)
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Theory of Memetics in Everyday Life
Learn how to craft a great title, subtitle, and reading line, as well as the 8 other key proposal elements, in our Feb. 9 All-Day Workshop, 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal.