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Book Titles That Sell

Coming up with a great title isn’t easy, but it may be the single most important thing you do for your book. Both the title and subtitle can have a major influence on your book’s success. A great title alone won’t sell your book, but a poor title can make sure it doesn’t sell.

Too many first-time authors try cramming a 25-word synopsis of their book into the title. They end up with titles that are insufferably long, hard to understand, and impossible to remember. Yawn.

For the main title, you want something memorable and easy to say. Titles are usually very short—sometimes just one or two catchy words. The subtitle then picks up the job of describing what the book is about in a bit more detail. The title piques interest, the subtitle explains.

Consider these partnered titles and subtitles:

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Cost of Everything
Death By Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Surviving The Most Painful Problem in Business
Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

Brainstorm a list of keywords related to the content of your book and its intended readership. What is the main benefit someone will get from reading your book? Use these keywords in your title and subtitle to help draw the right people to your work.

Read through your preface, introduction, and cover copy. Sometimes you’ll find a choice concept or turn of phrase that can be pulled out and turned into a catchy title.

Once you’ve come up with keywords and done some brainstorming, narrow your list to one or two contenders and try them out on others. Your best test audience is made up of people who fall into your intended readership. Poll some clients if they’re the ones you want buying your book, or talk to colleagues in your industry if you wrote the book for them.

Avoid getting too attached to a title before the feedback comes in. And if you find yourself stuck without a title after all of this, get help. With so much resting on what goes on the front cover, it’s definitely worth the investment.

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