When it comes to writing a book, creating a book title is surprisingly one of the hardest parts to complete. It’s difficult because titles are essentially short hooks that advertise your book using the fewest words possible. It’s also what readers look for first when they discover new books, and can take less than 5 seconds to make a decision. This is why it’s so crucial to craft a perfect name.
To help spur your creative process, we’ve created a few essential guidelines for you to follow as you craft your perfect title. Since there are different title considerations for fiction and non-fiction, we broke these two topics down separately into:
- How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction
- How to Choose a Book Title for Fiction
Let’s create your selling title!
How to Choose a Book Title for Non-Fiction
As you begin crafting your title ideas for your non-fiction book, the key is knowing that non-fiction readers are looking for solutions. Whether it’s losing weight, becoming a master in sales, or better at fostering relationships, they’re simply looking for a book that will solve their problem.
To leverage this idea, here are a set of rules to consider:
Rule of Thumb #1: Your Title Must Include a Solution to a Problem
Your title should be crystal clear on what your readers will achieve by reading your book. Experts say that a title with a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your title:
- Are you teaching a desirable skill?
- Can your personal discoveries impact someone’s life?
- Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
Here are our favorite book titles that offer a clear solution to a problem with promising results:
- Asperger’s Rules! How to Make Sense of School and Friendship by Blythe Grossman
- How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
Action Plan: Write down the best solutions or teachings your book offers and form these into potential book title ideas.
Rule of Thumb #2: Use a Subtitle for Clarity
A great non-fiction title employs a subtitle to clarify what the desired outcome will be from reading your book.
In this video clip, Chandler explains in 5 simple steps how to create a compelling subtitle:
Here are some questions to consider when creating your subtitle:
- How can your subtitle further expand on achieving a desirable outcome?
- What are the biggest pain points that your subtitle can provide a solution for?
- How can you further address your innovative solution in the subtitle?
Here are our favorite book subtitles that spell out what their readers can expect from reading their books:
- The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna
- Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
- Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
Action Plan: Make a list of 10 attention-grabbing subtitles that promise big outcomes and other positive benefits.
Rule of Thumb #3: Make Your Title Unforgettable
Catchy titles are memorable, boring titles are not. So make an effort to be more creative and fun with your book title! Use alliterations to make your title easier to read and remember. A memorable and light hearted title adds additional character to your book, and is also a great way to attract readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:
- Will a fun title turn a normally boring subject into something more interesting?
- Will adding humor to your title further entice readers?
- Will a cleverly written title stand out from other books in this genre?
Here are our favorite books that engaged us with clever titles and subtitles:
- Me Talk Pretty One Day and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
- Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
Action Plan: Experiment with different types of styles and poll your audience to determine whether a comedic, shocking, or even bizarre title will be the most appealing to your target audience.
No matter which method works best on creating a compelling title for nonfiction books, a good thing to remember is to always test multiple titles with different audiences to determine which title generates the biggest response. Feedback is the only way to know for certain which title is perfect for your book.
How to Choose a Book Title for Fiction
Generally, fiction titles are allowed more creative wiggle room than their non-fiction counterparts. That being said, an effective fiction title must still pique your readers’ attention.. And while it’s true that you can title your fictional book with random names, it still must pique the reader’s attention.
Here are some key guidelines to keep in mind:
Rule of Thumb #1: Your Title Should be Appropriate to Your Genre
Your novel title should use language that resonates with both your genre and target audience.. For example, a romantic book can call for dreamy language whereas an action book can warrant strong and powerful words. This means that you must know your book’s genre and words that best fit the style of title.
Here are some questions to consider for appropriate genre titles:
- What genre best fits this story?
- Which are the perfect choice words for your genre?
Here are our favorite fictional titles based on genre:
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Action Plan: Based on the genre of your book, pick out a few keywords that best suit its category and evoke strong emotions in your readers.
Rule of Thumb #2: Your Book Title Should Pique Your Reader’s Interest
A great fiction title teases and leaves your audience wanting more. You want your audience to read your title and think, “I must read what’s behind that cover!” Create fictional titles intriguing enough to capture the imaginations of your readers, and get to them to read your story.
Here are some questions to consider on how to pique interest with your title:
- Which key component of your story best captivates your readers?
- What emotions do you want your readers to have once they read your title?
Here are our favorite fictional titles that drew our attention:
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Action Plan: Choose a theme that will best draw your reader’s attention. Come up with 5 titles that will catch your reader’s attention and pique their curiosity..
Rule of Thumb #3: Look to Your Characters for Book Title Inspiration
A great book title captures the spirit of the protagonist. Some authors simply use the hero’s name for their title. Others have combined the names of their hero along with their special qualities to inform the audience about their protagonist’s accomplishments like Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
On the flip-side, a formidable antagonist can also be an amazing book title. A sinister name can convey a sense of dread and expectation for what’s to come like Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Both choices are great title ideas and should be seriously considered for your fictional book.
Here are some questions to consider when including a character as a title:
- Between the hero and villain, who impacts the story more?
- Are there any stunning qualities from your characters that will draw a reader’s emotion?
- Can the plot of the story be summed up as a title?
Here are our favorite fictional books that uses characters for its title:
- Harry Potter (Literary Series) by J. K. Rowling
- Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Action Plan: Determine which character best conveys what the story will tell in your title. You may also include creative words or themes to further showcase the character’s unique qualities or the journey itself.
Ultimately, the title of your book depends on you, the author. By following these constructive guidelines, you will be able to create a marvelous title that will grasp the attentions of readers and soon become an Amazon bestseller in no time!