Choosing a title for your book is certainly a creative decision, but it is also your first marketing decision because your book title can greatly help or hinder the sale of your book. While most authors usually have a title in mind when they first start writing their manuscript, it is worth considering the following tips before you select a final title for your book.
Short can be sweet…and memorable
Think about the book titles you remember. I suspect many if not have short titles. So try to come up with a title for your book that has no more than four or five words at most. For whatever reason, it seems like a lot of titles have three words in them. The Hunger Games and The Tipping Point are examples. Keep that in mind as you craft your title.
“Your book title is your first marketing decision”
Avoid words that are obscure, hard to pronounce or spell
Sometimes in an attempt to be provocative authors will choose words that are unusual in an attempt to standout. Don’t be tempted. Obscure words are great for scoring points in Scrabble, but for book titles.
Give readers a hint about what they will find in the book
Again some authors will attempt to be coy thinking they should be obscure or provocative and tease readers with the title. Not a good plan. Make it memorable but don’t confuse readers or make them guess what the book may be about.
Know your genre
While it is important to be unique, it is also important to understand what the latest trends are and what is appropriate for your genre. You can learn that by looking at on-line retailers, the titles of a respected publisher in your genre or visiting your local bookstore or library.
If you are writing a non-fiction book a subtitle can really help readers understand what they will get from reading the book. A great example is a book published by Berrett Koehler titled, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, with the subtitle, Getting Good People to Stay. This is a great example of a catchy short title, with a great subtitle.
Do your research
Once you have a title or titles you like, do some research to see if there are books out there in your genre with the same or a similar title. I have been surprised over the years, how many authors chose a title without doing a simple internet search on an online retailer to see if that title is already being used.
Ask your readers what they think
If you have viable options for a title, you may be able to engage your readers to determine your best title. If you have a blog or mailing list, you can present the title candidates to potential readers and let them vote. Along with learning which title like the most, you also help market the new book before it’s available.
Do you have any other tips you would like to share? Leave a comment and I will post it.
Last week, Suzanne McGee, penned a feature in the Money section of the Guardian, with the headline, You can try to be the next Hemingway — for $6,000 and the subhead, Self-publishing has made it possible to get your writing out in the world. But it hasn’t made it cheap.
In her article, she suggests based on her interviews with a number of self published authors, there are some critical elements you need to consider if you are going to self publish. Those include
- An ISBN number
- Cover Art
- Paid reviews
- Promotional print copies of your book
She suggested the total cost of the project would be around $6,000 with the two-thirds of that budget going to editing. Not surprising her article generated 80 comments and many opposing views. Some were civil in their comments and some were rude. Based on her response to the comments I think she was simply trying to point out that self-publishing is not and should not be considered a “free” opportunity as some might lead you to believe.
Certainly you can spend more or less than the amount she suggests, but those who were debating the number I think missed the most helpful points of the article.
- You are going to have to invest in editing to have a good book--I think this is the most important thing every self published author needs to remember and good editors are not cheap or free.
- You will have to invest time and money in promotion–She suggests paid reviews and many debate the value of those, but the point is you can’t just publish a book and wait for people to find it. You are going to have to spend some coin to garner interest and publicity.
- You will have to give things away before you see sales—In her article she suggests you need promotional copies of your book to hand out to media or others to get word of mouth about your book started. I think that is true, but there are other things you may want to consider as well.
The other great value to an article like this is it points out the need to have a simple way to evaluate the options out there for authors. I have written extensively about this topic and have a white paper title The Four Paths to Publishing, that layouts out the different opportunities available today for authors to get their books in the hands of readers.
If you would like to read the complete article in The Guardian, you can find it by clicking here.
This past weekend I was a panelist at the Writer’s Digest conference in a session that focused on new developments in indie or self-publishing. Panelists included Dan Dillon from Lulu and Amanda Barbara from Pubslush, which is a crowd funding platform for authors. Moderator was Phil Sexton from Writer’s Digest.
As usual, there was some lively dialogue and great questions from the audience and I always find the Writer’s Digest conference to be one of the best in the country. Being on the panel prompted me to think about what might be some of the next big things we will see in Indie or self-publishing.
Self-published graphic novels will grow substantially
This past spring, we announced a partnership with Golden Apple comics to launch self publishing packages specifically tailored for graphic novel creators. About the same time, Amazon also announced a move into that space. Both are signs that graphic novel creators are going to be the next big group of content creators to take advantage of indie publishing.
Hollywood will produce a movie based on a self-published novel.
50 Shades of Grey will be in theaters shortly and while it started as a self-published novel, its meteoric success came once a traditional publisher, Random House, picked it up. I believe it won’t be long before you will see a film on the big screen that is developed from a self-published book. In fact, recently we announced another book that was optioned by Hollywood. Link to the release is here. Stay tuned.
Subscriptions will not be as big a deal as the current bluster would lead you to believe.
If you pay attention to publishing news, subscription services are getting quite a bit of coverage. However, it is interesting to me that none of the news is around how many readers have signed up for the services. I think that is because consuming a book is a very different experience than consuming a song or a television show or movie. Pandora and Netflix do not require a significant commitment of time and much of what you get from their subscription services is disposable. A book is different. In the time it takes you to read a book, you could listen to one hundred songs or watch multiple movies. You can justify the value of a subscription because of the volume. I don’t think people will see the same value with books because they cannot consume them at the same rate.
I could be wrong and time will tell, but it will be interesting to watch.
Subscription services may lead to the resurgence of the serial.
While I don’t think book subscription services will get the traction of music and video services, I do think the format may fuel a resurgence of people writing serials and introducing a new chapter or what I call a micro-book each month. It has happened yet to any measure, but I think it will and may be one of the ancillary benefits of the new subscription services.
What do you think? Do you see any other big developments that I have missed? Use the comment section to let me know.
I speak to bloggers all the time who generate content on a regular basis and contemplate creating a book from their blog, but they never quite seem to get the goal. That’s why I was pleased to speak with Mark Eckel, who has turned his blog content into a book titled, I Just Need Time to Think: Reflective Study as Christian Practice, which was published by Westbow Press.
Mark (email@example.com) is Professor of Leadership, Education, and Discipleship for Capital Seminary & Graduate School. Indianapolis, Dr. Eckel has written and published curricula, peer-reviewed journal articles, periodical essays, book and movie reviews, as well as his weekly blog Warp and Woof.
I was curious to find out how he accomplished a goal many bloggers talk about but never accomplish. I think you will find his answers to my questions very helpful and motivating.
What inspired you to start writing your blog?
Compulsion. I was induced and coerced into putting pen to paper. As a Christian I know that being compelled to write comes from The Spirit of God who lives in me. In our culture, the natural means for writing is what has come to be known as “blogging.” I was inspired from the inside to write, inspired from the outside to blog.
What have you found most enjoyable about maintaining a blog?
Everything. I enjoy all of life and revel in the whole of the world. The title for someone like me in a university setting is “interdisciplinarian.” I believe everything crisscrosses everything else creating a unity we know is there but cannot see. A blog allows me to explore everything I read, see, hear, and do. Enthusiasm about knowledge and excitement about sharing what I have discovered with others brings a smile to my face.
What made you decide to turn your blog into a book?
Credibility. The immediacy of blogging is clear: information floods our world so we can access the data instantaneously. A book has the power of physical, visible influence. Rightly or wrongly, people gauge some authority based on what a person can show they have accomplished. As an academic I wanted to have three books available for people who would demonstrate my ability in reflective study, movie review, and teaching-learning.
Why was it important to have your content as a book and not just as a blog?
Credentialing. As a teacher for over 30 years I have had to document the outcomes of my craft. As an author, I now have a record for others to assess. By writing a book I am holding myself accountable to others who can now critique my work as an academic. But I am also answering questions that everyone ponders in one way or another. A book says to people, “You cared enough to organize your thoughts about a subject so that we could read them in one whole book.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?
Write. Just write. Don’t wait, write. Write when you want to, write when you don’t want to. Write now, write then. Set up a time that is best for you to write, but then, write. For me, I have the most creative energy in the morning. I normally wake up by 4 a.m. or before. I stay away from email and internet. I read at least 40 to 50 pages of periodicals or books. I take notes. I write while I’m reading and note-taking. But my counsel is always the same: write, write, write.
What advice would you give someone who wants to turn his or her blog into a book?
Plan. A book is very different from a blog. If you read my website (www.warpandwoof.org) you will see I write about a lot of different subjects. But when I’m planning to create a book I have to ask myself my purpose for my subject. For instance, when I was writing my current book When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian Practice (Westbow, September, 2014 release) I wrote weekly for six months toward the book. My plan about writing a book about movies was first generated through my blog.
What has been most surprising to you once you published your book?
I Just Need Time to Think: Reflective Study as Christian Practice (Westbow, 2014) gave me vigor to write again. I did not expect to want to put another book together immediately but I was energized to do When the Lights Go Down and am now planning the third in the series Education is Ownership: Teaching-Learning as Christian Practice (working title, forthcoming). Instead of being tired of writing, I want to write more!
Anything else you would want to tell readers?
Read. If you don’t read you won’t write. You can read a tablet, laptop, or hold the spine of a book in your hand—but read. Read everything you can get your hands on about your passion. Read people who disagree with you. Read authors you don’t know. Read to learn more and understand by reading, how much more you don’t know. Reading should be a humbling experience. Now I want to tell people about what I read. If I want to write, I have to read.
Don’t know if you saw the story this past week about the uproar in North Carolina regarding the appointment governor Pat McCrory made.
Valerie Macon, a disability examiner for the state, was appointed last week as Poet Laureate and it created quite a stir. The governor came under fire for selecting someone and not including the Arts Council in the decision. Perhaps more importantly, the “establishment” questioned her credentials simply because she was self-published. Macon chose to resign this week because she did not want the negative attention surrounding her appointment to distract from the position. In an interview after her resignation she made this statement:
“I remain passionate about the mission of poetry to touch all people regardless of age, education or social status,” she wrote. “I would like to encourage everyone to read and write poetry. They do not need prestigious publishing credits or a collection of accolades from impressive organizations — just the joy of words and appreciation of self-expression.”
The Governor’s response was interesting. While saying he reluctantly accepted Macon’s resignation, McCrory also took a shot at North Carolina’s established writers, some of whom had criticized the governor for bypassing the traditional method of selecting a poet laureate. McCrory stated,
“I’m also disappointed by the way some in the poetry community have expressed such hostility and condescension toward an individual who has great passion for poetry and our state,”
What is your take on this situation? While there are much bigger things happening in publishing and in the world, I do think this is an interesting reaction from the “establishment”. It does show that self publishing has moved forward in many circles, but there are still pockets of people who think unless you follow the publishing path that has always been, you are not a “real” author. Actually this situation is consistent with my experience. Academia is still reluctant to embrace self-publishing. I think that will change in time. In fact, I think this is the last area where the indie revolution will triumph. Use the comment section to let me know your opinion.
Rob Wingerter did not set out to be an author. In fact, like many first-time authors these days, he took a circuitous route to getting published. He has spent the better part of his life and career as a partner with a global accounting firm specializing in tax matters. Along the way, he was led to open a retreat center called Mahseh.
You can read about and watch a video where he explains his journey on his blog, www.robwingerter.com. However, what I also found interesting was his advice to aspiring authors. Rob wrote his book, Regaining Your Spiritual Poise as a means to inform people on the topic of retreat and to establish his credibility on this subject. Along the way, he learned some things about what it takes to get from idea to holding a book in your hands. In this 90 second video, he talks about his process and provides some tips on how to stay on task and set yourself up to keep moving toward your goal. I think you will find his perspective helpful.