5 Effective Methods of Choosing a Compelling Book Title
Simple, straightforward techniques of coming up with a book title that sells your book at first glance.
Have you ever tried to get into the minds of average readers, so you could know what the first thing that captures their interest is?
Or save that thought. Here is a better question:
When you’re scrolling through an article on a web page for the first time (forget about the graphics!), what gets your attention, and possibly, your click on?
While some books or stories never leave the shelves in a library, other books leave as soon as they arrived because of their titles.
A book, titled “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and another, “How to Be Financially Independent,” for instance, discusses the same topic in different ways. However, one is a bookseller while the other is barely leaving the shelves of local libraries.
The idea of compelling your readers with a book title is to create something rare or simple and yet relatable; a title that could capture the minds of your readers at a first glance.
If you were to consider the title of the masterpiece by Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), you would probably find that there is nothing spectacular about it. While most authors would have chosen an extra-ordinary title for such a work of art, Achebe was smarter.
Over the years, his book has not only sold millions of copies, but it has also been transcribed into more than 70 different languages.
Apparently, there’s a weighing curiosity that grips the mind on reading statements like, “when things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” People easily relate with ideas that are embedded in simple and yet, stunning titles.
5 Basic Steps Of Choosing A Book Title Readers Can’t Resist
Here are a few suggestions that will help you choose astonishing book titles that will captivate your readers.
1. Learn From Successful Books
For your manuscript to be publishable, some factors are often considered:
- It needs to have a compelling story idea.
- It should have a broad appeal in its genre or subject niche.
- There’s a need for your manuscript to have commercial value.
- It must have been edited by a professional.
However, a great title does most of your marketing for you. Titles such as A Tale of Two Cities, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Alice in Wonderland are good examples of simple titles with appealing context.
These titles reveal some of the crucial elements of compelling book titles, which are:
- They create curiosity in the mind of the readers.
- They introduce the reader already to a central character, setting, or subject.
- They are concise, simple, and intriguing.
If the resources are not available to you, you can look up a collection of popular novels online. Go through the synopsis and understand why the author chose a particular title.
As a method of creating ideas for book titles, list some of your favorite novels and note down the connections you can find between the title, the theme, plot, characters, and settings in the story.
This exercise will help you uncover how your best book titles relate to their content.
It will also help you choose titles that similarly encapsulate your own story.
2. Get Familiar With Popular Book Title Structures
From popular novels, you can figure out how authors devise their book titles.
You, however, don’t have to follow a particular formula in generating a book title. There’s no single format for writing one.
You can get a title that works by merely joining a noun that describes a strong action or emotion with a noun that describes a significant object or character from the novel. Typical examples include:
- The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
- Dream of The Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
- The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Also, if location or setting is important in your story, a title using the prepositions ‘on’ or ‘in’ can work just fine.
A good example is Death in the Cathedral by T. S. Elliot or The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
3. Consider the Multiple Functions Your Book Title Will Serve
Apart from being the name that identifies your novel and attracts readers in bookstores or various online platforms, your book title serves other functions.
Some of these functions include:
- The book title will have to be repeated countless times while promoting it.
- It will be used to emblazon ads and promotional materials.
- It will become the URL for your book’s website.
- It can be shown alongside your name in online platforms like Amazon or print bios.
Knowing these functions helps you to come up with titles that fit and titles that readers easily find relatable, compelling, or engaging.
4. Brainstorm After You are Done With a First Draft
Book title ideas also stem from potential names embedded in your story’s themes.
A single theme like racial discrimination, for instance, gives you several hints for a book title.
However, you need to finish writing your book first before concerning yourself with the title. It is common for some writers to assume that an author must create a befitting title before starting.
This is not a productive mindset.
Once you are done with writing your story or first draft, everything becomes clearer. But be sure to write down any ideas that come to your head, even if they’re ridiculous.
5. Critique and Review the title with Your Editor, Publisher, or Friend
Every book title that you love or hate is not based on external perceptions but rather, subjective ones.
Though an external viewpoint is still useful when you are too close to your writing to decide whether the title you chose is good or not.
However, when you have a shortlist of potential titles for your book, critique those titles by reviewing them with your friend whose judgment and scrutiny you can trust, or with experts or a publisher with experience in the book business.
Rather than ask biased friends, you can discuss with other writers who won’t sugar-coat their feedback.
Ultimately, the question to ask yourself is, would the title attract the attention of people who would enjoy my work? Is it memorable? Does it relate to the contents and message in my book?
There! You have got a book title readers would always find irresistible.