What are the most revised words of a book? Beginning? Ending? My best guess is … the title. In a single or a few precious words, we seek to convey the book’s content in an intriguing way. We want the title to entice readers to pull that book off the shelf and take it home. We want a memorable title, one that sticks in people’s minds when they recommend the book to everyone they know or can contact online.
I came up with at least a hundred titles—originals and variations—for my book. It took that many to find one that not only my editor and I liked, but also appealed to members of the editorial, design, marketing, and sales departments. Fortunately, instead of frustrated, I felt buoyed by the support of a team rooting for a title that would best draw readers to the book. We tried everything—images, metaphors, plays on words. Themes from the book, historical references, twists on titles of other books. Ideas or phrases that were striking, poignant, mysterious, even humorous. One title came to my editor in a dream.
Now that I know what a complex process it can be, I’ve started searching for strategies to try next time I create a title. Below are links to tips from other writers.
But first, let me ask you: what’s your favorite strategy for writing titles?
Joel Friedlander – How to Write Book Titles for People & Robots
For nonfiction books, Friedlander advises creating a title to grab readers’ attention, plus a subtitle rich with keywords that describe the book’s subject and scope and will also show up in online searches.
Mark Levy – Writing a Sticky Title
For my next book title, I want to try Levy’s trick of using ideas and phrases from the proposal (or synopsis) for generating titles.
Frances Reid Rowland – Write a Book Title with the Star Power of Harry Potter
Rowland offers several great tips on titles that invite readers “to form a connection with your story.”
Roger C. Parker – How to Choose the Right Title for Your Nonfiction Book
Parker’s guest post describes 10 tips for a successful nonfiction book title. I’m intrigued by #3 about a title that makes readers feel your book was “written for them.”
Rachelle Gardner – How to Title Your Book
Gardner gives seven strategies for brainstorming titles. Lists of words – sounds like fun!
Scott Berkun – The Truth about Choosing Book Titles
Berkun shares thoughts about common advice for writing titles and functions that a title might serve.
Goodreads list of Best Book Titles
For fun and inspiration!