How to Create a Title for Your Book

Naming your book can feel like naming a baby. The difference, of course, is what you name your book will impact some people’s decision on whether or not to buy it. Most people don’t name their kids thinking about future buyers!

Here are my tips for creating a title for your book:

1. Do some brainstorming. Come up with an initial list of five or ten possibilities.

2. Do some browsing on or in your local bookstore. Look at books in your genre and make a list of titles you think are effective, and ones you think are ineffective. (Remember the goal: you want the title to entice people to pick up your book and look at it, and hopefully to buy it.)

3. Do some comparison. Look at your list with the ones others have used. See what ideas this gives you. Wait a few days to let your thoughts percolate in your subconscious mind.

4. Do some more brainstorming. Take out your original list and add to it, until you have at least 100 possibilities. That’s right: one hundred. Use your thesaurus, think about key scenes or messages from your book, experiment with one word titles, plays on words, double meanings, questions, or any other devices that seem to have worked for books in your genre. This may take a few days, and that’s ok. Your subconscious mind will be working on this, and you’ll be surprised what you will come up with.

In case you think I’m crazy, I didn’t just make this up. This is a trick many professional copy writers use. They say often it is number 100 that is the real gem, so it’s worth the work.

Alphabetize your list, and then read over it in a day or so. You may see some more combinations you hadn’t thought of before.

5. Do some market research. Choose from your list your five favorites and ask people who like books in your genre their opinions. Specifically ask them if they read a book with that title what they would think the book would be about, and if they saw that title would they be interested in finding out more about the book. If your book is a serious biography and the people you ask about your title think it’s going to be a humorous historical romance, you’ll know you’ve got some more work to do.

6. Make a decision. Pick out your favorite, and then google it. While there are often many books with the same title, you’ll want to know this. You might want to choose another title, or add a subtitle.

What about your list of 100 possible book titles? Don’t throw it away! Some of those phrases might come in handy when you are writing your back cover copy or sales copy. Who knows, they might make great titles for another book some day.

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