You’ve worked really hard to write an amazing book that’s going to completely wow your readers. Then, a really big question sneaks up on you…what are you going to call your book? How do you choose the right title that will instantly make readers want to buy your book and read it?
Unfortunately, I see a lot of authors make some big mistakes when it comes to choosing a book title. They come up with a title that they think is amazing, but that title is actually more appealing to the author than it is to readers and shoppers. In these cases, the authors are usually able to sell copies to their immediate audience and fan base, but the book fails to appeal to a wider audience. That means their book is ultimately read by fewer people, and it has less of an impact than it might have if the author had chosen the right title.
In this episode, I’ll walk you through the process that I use to help my clients choose a great title for their books. I’ll also tell you how you can figure out what titles will be most appealing so you can sell more books and reach more readers. You’ll learn a simple framework to help you choose the right title for your book, a title that will help your book reach a wider audience.
The right title for your nonfiction book is a title that instantly attracts your ideal reader. It should be a title that grabs their attention and helps your book stand out from other books that are on the same shelf or in the same search results. Along with your book cover, your book’s title is one of the two things that will immediately get a potential reader to look at your book more closely.
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Your nonfiction book title needs to pique your potential reader’s interest. It needs to make them stop scrolling through their Amazon search or stop browsing the bookstore shelf and focus on your book. The right title will instantly convince your reader that your book is the book they’ve been searching for.
You’ve probably experienced this yourself. Let’s say you’re looking for a book to help you dig into email marketing. But, email marketing is just one thing you do for your business, and you don’t necessarily have hours and hours to spend writing emails every week. You go on Amazon and you search for “email marketing books.” But, the “Total Comprehensive Guide to Email Marketing” seems like it’s a bit much for what you need. You definitely don’t need any books on advanced email marketing techniques.
Finally, you come across a book called “Effective Email Marketing in under an Hour a Month.” That’s the book you ultimately click on and buy. The title clearly convinces you that it’s the book you need. You don’t want to spend more time than you have to learning how to write great emails. You’re a busy business owner with a long to-do list! You need effective strategies that won’t take up too much of your time. The title of this book convinces you that it’s the right book to suit your needs. This is exactly what the title of your book should do.
Remember that your reader is searching for your book because they’re looking for a solution to a specific problem. Your title needs to convince your reader that your book is going to solve that problem. Or, it needs to convince them that it’s at least worth a few seconds of their time to learn more about your book to see if it’s what they’re looking for.
If you want to choose a really great book title, you really should take the time to see what other books in your niche are titled. And, in particular, you should look at the titles of the bestsellers in your niche. This is especially true if you want your book to reach a wider audience on Amazon. Amazon shoppers who don’t know you will pass over a bland, generic book title in an instant. You need to make sure your title helps your book stand out.
In general, your nonfiction book title should make the subject of your book completely obvious to the reader. So many authors are tempted to come up with a cutesy, clever book title. They want their book to reflect all of the hard effort and creativity that they’ve put into it. They don’t want their books to have a plain title. But, unfortunately, that plain title is often what will sell the book to a shopper who hasn’t heard of you.
Most often, the most effective book titles tell the reader what solution you’re providing in your book. Those titles instantly tell the reader what to expect from the book and show the reader that it’s the book they’ve been looking for. For example, a book titled “15-Minute Slow-Cooker Meals” is very attractive to anyone who’s looking for a fast way to feed themselves or a family. If the same cookbook was titled “Slow Cooker Magic,” it’s not immediately obvious what problem the book solves. The majority of successful self-published nonfiction books have a title that instantly tells a shopper what problem that book solves.
But, there is a caveat to this rule. In some niches, it’s common for the book to have a slightly clever title (but never so clever that it’s not immediately obvious what the book is about). Then, the subtitle conveys all of the important information about what the book’s about and why the reader should buy it. That’s why doing book title research is so important. You need to see what’s the norm in your niche so your book fits in. With that said, I’d still err on the side of being direct over being clever when it comes to your book title.
Once you’ve done your book title research, I recommend coming up with several book title options (at least 2 or 3). Remember, these titles should all be very appealing to your ideal reader. And, the title should ideally make it very obvious to your reader that your book is going to solve the problem they’ve been having.
Take your shortlist of titles and go to your audience. Ask them which title they like best. Which title is the most appealing to them? Which title makes them very excited to buy your book? And, which title convinces them that your book is the solution to the problem they’re having?
Ideally, you should also test your book title with potential readers who aren’t in your immediate warm audience. This is particularly important if you want your book to appeal to a wider base of readers. Ask yourself if there are any Facebook groups or other forums where your ideal reader hangs out. If those forums allow it, ask members which book title they prefer. (As an added bonus, ask them WHY they prefer their choice—that feedback can be gold!)
If you don’t have access to any groups or forums, try talking to people you meet who might be interested in your book topic. For example, if you’re writing a book to help busy moms practice self-care, strike up a conversation with the mom next to you in line at the coffee shop. (Or at your kids’ soccer game or school event…look for ideal readers anywhere you can.) Ask her if she’d be willing to give you some quick feedback, and tell her about the book titles on your shortlist. Find out which title she finds most appealing, and again, if she can tell you why it’s her favorite, that’s really valuable.
Ultimately, getting feedback on your book title helps you make sure that you’re not assuming that your readers want something they don’t. But, also don’t make the mistake of letting a few followers convince you to choose a title that doesn’t reflect what your book is actually about. First and foremost, your title needs to help you sell your book. Don’t choose a title that doesn’t make your book more appealing to readers.
When it comes time to pick a title for your book, just follow this simple framework. First, take a look at the popular books in your niche and see if there’s a general formula for the titles of the bestselling books. Are the titles of most of the books straightforward? Or, are they a little more clever, using funny phrases or alliteration, for example?
Then, think about the main problem your book will solve for your readers. Write a book title that follows the title formula you found in your research and clearly defines the problem your book will solve. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Will this title convince your ideal reader that they need your book, or at least convince them to look a little deeper?
Come up with a shortlist of a few favorite titles and test them with ideal readers. What title do they prefer? Which title is the most effective at convincing them that your book will solve a big problem? Do they strongly dislike any of your title options, and if so, why?
Combine all of this input with your knowledge of your ideal reader to pick the best title for your book. Remember, this should be the title that convinces your reader that your book is the one to solve the problem they have. Stay on message and you’ll ultimately sell more books.
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