How to Choose Your Book Title in 2 Weeks
There isn't a surefire method for choosing a book title. You might come up with it in a day, or it might take you weeks or months. You also have to consider a number of attributes.
Because finding the perfect title seems impossible at times, we've put together some book titling exercises that you can try in a span of two weeks. Note that this is only a recommended period. The more time and effort you can dedicate to these exercises, the better your chances of arriving at a title you can be happy with.
WEEK 1: Brainstorming
By the end of this week, you should be able to put together a big list of title options.
Staring at a blank page can be intimidating, but coming up with options doesn't have to be stressful or mind-numbing. Below are prompts to help you produce ideas. You can take the prompts one day at a time.
DAY 1: Consider the essence of your book.
What is your book truly about? Is there an underlying theme that runs throughout your story? What is its conflict?
DAY 2: Look over your book's text.
Are there any lines that jump out at you? Particularly interesting pieces of dialogue?
DAY 3: Add perspective.
How do your characters see themselves? What do people usually think of the ideas that your book presents?
DAY 4: Consider the visual.
Is there a special setting, event, or object? Can you describe its uniqueness?
DAY 5: Add some mystery.
Pique readers' interests by teasing them a bit with your title. Create a question, mention something of meaning without explaining it, or express your book's main theme as a dilemma.
DAY 6: Change up your words.
Try applying trendy title formulas. Exchange a commonplace word for a more unusual word.
After answering the prompts, you can set your list aside for one day. Taking a break allows you to return to your work with fresh eyes.
If your book is part of a series or your title needs a bit more information, then you might want to spend one more day coming up with a subtitle. Subtitles can fill in any contextual gaps, draw the attention of potential readers, and increase your book's likelihood of being found online.
Here are some tips for picking the right subtitle:
- Generally speaking, don't try to just extend your book title and create one really long title.
- The subtitle should just give a little extra information for the reader, such as the series name and volume number or a hint as to the genre of the book.
- When deciding on the style for your subtitle (e.g., colon, brackets, etc.), study your book's genre to see what other subtitles use.
WEEK 2: Choosing
You've got your title options and now you're ready to narrow it down to "the one." It's time to consider title attributes, namely length, impact, and simplicity.
Below is a simplified guide to the way each attribute adds up to a good title. You can also use it as an assessment tool to score your title options. You can then rank them and choose from the high-scoring ones.
|Title comprises 5 words or fewer (not including the subtitle). Likely to fit in the spine of your book, URLs, tweets, and most anywhere you need to use them.||Title comprises 6-8 words. Might attract a small subset of the population and alienate the rest.||Title comprises 8-10 words. You and your audience might get burnt out on it very quickly.||Title comprises 11 or more words. Just a mouthful.|
|Creativity (originality, alliteration, or provocative or contradictory wording) plus easy enunciation make it highly memorable and recommendable.||Creative, but sounds a little jumbled.||Cliché and hard to pronounce.||Too difficult for most people to remember and pronounce. May cause them to not connect with your book and purchase another title instead.|
|Includes keywords that describe the most important thing, person, or idea in your story and demonstrates its significance.||Descriptive but a little too clever.||Concept is complicated. You could spend a lot of time correcting media and potential readers.||Contains too many ideas for anyone to follow.|
As always, the dos come with the don'ts. Here are a few caveats to keep in mind.
In search results, one-word titles can cause your book to get lost in a sea of other book titles that contain that word or even worse—results about the topic but not your book. Having only one word in your title also increases the chances of running into duplicate titles.
Do a search through book titles to make sure that your desired title is not already taken. If it is, but the taker is a lesser known, out-of-print book, then it's probably not a big deal. But otherwise, you should change your title.
Check online to make sure that your chosen title is not also the name of a controversial event or topic. Unintentionally offending potential readers is not something you want your book title to do.
As an added measure (or if you have too many top scorers), you can also create a straw poll. Polling can validate which title readers would most likely choose. You can use free or paid online straw poll tools to get feedback from hundreds of people. Polling may lengthen the title choosing process considerably, but in addition to considering your own feelings about your title options, it helps to get the spur-of-the-moment, unbiased opinions of others. After all, other people are the ones you want to buy your book.
Your title is all that some potential readers may see before they decide whether or not to purchase your book. Make sure the title you've chosen by the end of these exercises makes them want to pick up your book and crack it open.