As an authorpreneur choosing a title is one of the most important decisions you will make.  The right title can kick-start the commercial success of your book. You don’t need to be very creative but you do have to find a unique way of expressing what your audience needs.

A book can be discarded in seconds by potential readers without even having been picked up just on the strength of its title. A great title will put you streets ahead in terms of capturing interest, attracting your target market and, hopefully, selling them on the idea. A poor title will almost certainly stop your book from doing as well. Nobody wants to see months of writing, effort and investment relegated to a dust gathering literary wasteland.

Before you start thinking about a title for your book, take time to do some research and look at what is out there, and not just in your genre.  You will soon get an idea of how influential the right title can be.  Master craftsmen like Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell, for example, recognize the importance of stand-out titles in creating best selling works and are able to capitalize on them in a highly effective way.

Here are some things to consider in the process of coming up with a good title:

  • Go big!  Don’t wildly over exaggerate but don’t undersell either. Remember superlatives sell, modesty does not.  If your title is memorable and attracts attention then it will stand out.
  • Be informative. The title needs to relay what the book is about.
  • Interest.  A great title will pique the reader’s interest.
  • Brevity.  Keep it as short as possible. Use few words and short words. Fewer words mean a bigger, and therefore more eye-catching, print size.
  • Be specific. Using numbers can lend credibility. Timelines attract interest. For example, “Learn Mandarin in 21 Days!”
  • Make it easy for people to repeat.
  • Adapt. Even if you have a title that you love – you may need to let it go if it does not fit the bill.
  • Feedback. Family and friends can give you an initial idea but a less subjective audience is much more helpful in assessing the appeal of your title.  You could do this by setting up an online survey or putting something out on social media. Offer an incentive to ensure a good response.
  • Tools of the trade. Research and make use of analytical tools to give you feedback on possible titles. A publisher and print consultant can advise on these.
  • Take your time. Tried and tested has a better chance of success than a last minute effort.

As an authorpreneur this is yet another part of developing your brand. Ensure its success by making a great opening statement.

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Mary Vaux-ClarkMary Vaux-Clark is a freelance editor, proof-reader and writer. Her areas of interest include current affairs, travel, history and sport. She has travelled widely and worked in Hong Kong as an editor and ESL teacher for over ten years.