Posted on February 21, 2023 at 11:23 AM by Guest Author
If you’re in the process of writing your first (or next) book, you may be struggling to choose a title. Learn how to title a book with this helpful guide.
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Every author knows that coming up with a good book title is important. There are many factors that play into a book’s success, and the title is a major one. But if you’re trying to figure out how to title a book, it’s worth taking a closer look at why the title matters so much.
It’s one of the first things readers notice.
When readers stumble upon a book, the title is one of the first things (if not the first thing) they look at. If the title doesn’t capture their attention right away, they’ll likely move on to something else. So, you need a good book title to hook your target audience.
It provides insight into what the book is about.
Readers also look at the title to get a sense of what a book is about. They expect it to give them a hint about the subject matter or plot. The title can’t convey as much as the book blurb, but it can serve as a brief introduction to the content. That’s why you need to ensure your title is relevant and descriptive enough.
It plays a role in memorability.
Not every reader buys or downloads a book as soon as they come across it. Many make a mental note to come back to it later. And a short, easy-to-remember title increases the chances of them doing so.
Therefore, you need to know how to title a book so that it’s memorable.
When first learning how to title a book, authors tend to ask a lot of the same questions. Unfortunately, it can be tough to find the answers. To save you time and frustration, we’ve addressed a few of the most common questions about titling a book…
WHEN SHOULD YOU COME UP WITH A TITLE?
It’s recommended that you develop a solid working title early on in the writing process. This gives you something a little more specific to reference than just “Untitled Work.” Then, once your book is complete, you can polish it up.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to change or even do away with your initial title completely. Ultimately, you want to be sure it fits the final version of your book.
CAN TWO BOOKS HAVE THE SAME TITLE?
In short, yes. Two (or more) books can share the same title. That’s because copyright protection in the U.S. does not apply to titles.
However, this doesn’t mean you should use the same title as an existing book. Doing so can cause confusion among readers. It can also make it more difficult for your book to stand out.
CAN YOU USE A BRAND NAME IN A BOOK TITLE?
Although trademark names can be used in fiction — so long as you don’t paint a company or its products in a bad light — they can’t be used in titles unless you’ve received permission.
When you use a brand name in a title, it implies that you have a connection with the brand. If you haven’t been given permission and a brand hasn’t endorsed your book, avoid using the name in your title.
HOW LONG IS TOO LONG FOR A BOOK TITLE?
The ideal length of a book title depends on what type of book it is. For instance, nonfiction books tend to have longer titles because they include subtitles. In general, however, it’s best not to go beyond ten words.
Also note that super long subtitles (we’ve seen them 20 words and longer) are viewed by many readers as amateurish.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BOOK TITLES?
When it comes to book titles, there are quite a few categories they can fall into. They can be clear and straightforward, descriptive, short and catchy, unexpected, bold and attention-grabbing, etc. It’s in your best interest to choose a type that best fits your book’s genre and content.
Coming up with a good book title can be challenging, especially if you’re a first-time author. That’s why it helps to have some general advice and best practices to reference.
Here are seven tips on how to title a book…
LOOK AT THE CONTENT FOR INSPIRATION.
The content of your book is the best source of inspiration for your title. After all, your book title should be relevant to what it’s about. So, it makes sense to pull from what you’ve written.
Some examples of elements you can repurpose for your title include the following:
Character names (e.g., Frankenstein)
Settings (e.g., A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
Themes (e.g., War and Peace)
Lines or phrases (e.g., Catch-22)
Events or important plot points (e.g., Murder on the Orient Express)
Benefits (e.g., How to Win Friends and Influence People)
ENSURE IT REFLECTS THE BOOK’S GENRE.
Different genres tend to have their own titling conventions. And by following them, you can set genre expectations right off the bat. Therefore, you should make sure your title has a similar feel to other books in the same genre.
For example, if your book is a romance, consider using more flowery language. If it’s a fantasy, you could describe the protagonist’s quest or use the mythical name of the setting. If it’s a mystery, you may want to introduce the crime or situation being investigated.
AIM FOR DISCOVERABILITY.
You want to make your title easy for readers to remember and search for. Generally, that means making it specific and not too similar to other titles out there. However, it also means incorporating relevant keywords if possible. Although this is easier with nonfiction books that have subtitles, it can be done with fiction too. Just consider what the book is about in relation to what readers may be searching for. That way, your book is more likely to be discovered.
FOLLOW BEST PRACTICES FOR CAPITALIZATION.
Though it may seem minor, capitalization is something to consider as you figure out how to title a book. By knowing what’s standard, you can ensure your title doesn’t stand out in a bad way. So, follow best practices and capitalize your title properly.
DON’T FORGET STYLISTIC DETAILS.
There are some small stylistic aspects of titles that can have a bigger impact than you may think. How you use numbers, punctuation, articles, etc., can affect the way readers view your book. Keep these details in mind as you create your title to make sure you end up with the most attention-grabbing result.
KEEP IT ON THE SHORT SIDE.
Title length was touched on above, but it’s worth mentioning again. Although you may think you need to expand on your title to explain the book properly, you should keep it on the short side. The longer your title is, the harder it will be for readers to remember. Plus, scaling back to include only the most important words will likely result in a more powerful title.
USE A BOOK NAME GENERATOR.
If you’re a new author, one of the best tips on how to title a book is to start with a book name generator. By using one of these tools, you can get a ton of ideas. Then, you can start weeding out the ones you don’t like and play around with those you do.
Fortunately, there are plenty of title generators online.
Coming up with a good book title can seem daunting at first, but it’s not some impossible feat. Ultimately, you should aim for a short, original title that hints at what readers should expect. So, use this handy guide on how to title a book and get to work creating a title that grabs your readers’ attention!
(Your title is a crucial part of your book’s success, but there’s more to consider. Download The Ultimate Guide to Increased Book Sales for valuable marketing advice!)
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