Titles Can Make Your Book a Success – Or Not
You’ve heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover. This isn’t true; people make decisions about whether to even pick up a book and look at it based on the cover. They make the same kinds of decisions based on the title. Titles can make or break your book’s success.
In this blog, I’m going to share some examples of great and not-so-great book titles.
A good title intrigues and arouses curiosity. It makes a potential buyer really want to know what’s inside.
The Four-Hour Work Week: What could be better than that? It was somewhat deceptive because those who followed Tim Ferris’ plan had to work somewhat more, but the book became a best-seller anywhere. Tim Ferris says he used opinions of others to narrow down his title to that one.
The book title has five words, if you count the hyphenated word as two, and experts say that’s a good maximum length for a book.
A one-word title is even better, like the book at the top of the blog post, Free.
Another outstanding example of a one-word title is Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, who’s a journalist. He’s become known for writing thought-provoking books. In Blink, he describes how we form judgments of people in the blink of an eye.
His next book, The Tipping Point, which has three words, talks about how trends develop a ground swell of support until they reach a tipping point. He has a great following as a writer, and his titles definitely attract buyers.
A not-so-good title confuses. At worst, it makes a potential buyer think, “I’ll never understand what’s inside that book.”
Here’s an example: iCompete: How My Extraordinary Strategy for Winning Can Be Yours.
When I first saw this title, I wondered if iCompete was a new Apple product. Then I thought, “Extraordinary strategy for winning what?” Nothing about that title and subtitle drew me to buy it. It was vague, and vague is fatal to book sales.
Here’s another one: Humanification: Go Digital, Stay Human. Discover the DNA of Disruptive Innovation and How it Will Change Your Work Forever. This is in no way an inviting title/subtitle. It’s also far too long. Two special points. “Disruptive” is, well, a disruptive word that can disturb people. Humanification isn’t a word at all. And I think the cover image is creepy.
If you’re famous, you can make up words; otherwise, stay simple and catchy.
And don’t embarrass your reader. I saw a cover for a book In some gardens – It is a simple, memorable one word title – Prick. The subtitle explains: * Imagine the fun the people had at the publishing company. “What book are you working on?” “I’m working on Prick.” “Oh, are you talking about our boss?” The possibilities are endless. Be sure you pick a title that can make your book a success. And give it a fighting chance.
Pat Iyer is an editor, blogger, author and more.