Books are judged by their covers. Authors know that. It’s why self-published authors spend weeks or even months—getting their covers just right. A traditionally published author doesn’t always have the freedom to choose and nitpick every detail of his or her cover, but the publishing house’s design and marketing teams likely spend even more time creating a cover that will sell. Colors, images, and font choices are all important, but a great cover begins with a great title. In fact, your book’s title may be even more important than the design you choose for your cover.
As a book reviewer for SUCCESS Media, I receive emails every day from publishers and book publicists about upcoming books. Many are trying to secure reviews before the books release and the covers often aren’t ready yet. That means the book’s title has to do the work. It has to grab my attention in a matter of seconds—before I click the delete button. Potential readers may give you even less time to impress them to buy when they’re scanning thumbnails on Amazon for their next book.
4 Tips for Choosing a Title for a Nonfiction Book
Make it interesting—to your audience. Your title needs to intrigue potential readers. Choose words that strike a chord with their needs or appeal to their personal or professional interests. Of course, to do that, you need to know your audience.
Make sure it makes sense—without you having to explain it. Sometimes the title comes before the book, as a word or phrase that inspires your thoughts and drives your book from concept to completion. I love it when that happens because it helps keep the content of the book focused.
However, what’s obvious, clever or meaningful to you, may not immediately click with your potential readers. Test out your title on friends and critique/networking groups. Get feedback on what they think your clever title means. If they can get close to your main theme or idea without much direction, you know you’re on the right track.
Be succinct with your title and clear with your subtitle. Short, catchy titles are easy to remember, which makes them easy for readers to tell others about. You
want need that word-of-mouth advertising. Keep your title short and snappy, and then use your subtitle to give a little more explanation about what readers can expect from the book. Put the two together and you’ll have a winner.
More isn’t always better. The longer your title and subtitle, the more challenging it is for a designer to create a beautiful cover. Billboard advertisers recommend using only six words on a billboard. Too many more than that and the words are too small to read when drivers zoom by at 60 miles per hour. On magazine covers, the rule of thumb for an article blurb is 10 words, preferably fewer, so buyers can quickly scan them while standing in line at the grocery store. Likewise, for books, the best title is the one that a potential reader can read and understand at a glance.
Share your thoughts: What are some of your favorite books/titles?