Choose The Perfect Book Title Through Testing

by Accessory To Success February 27, 2022

Choose The Perfect Book Title Without Guessing

Along with creating a good book cover and buying book reviews, choosing a book title might be the most important way to attract readers. Your book title and cover work together to share what kind of journey your book promises. A good title entices potential readers to pick your book up and give it a try. A key component of your book’s success is, in fact, attracting readers who will enjoy your book’s adventure. That means formulating a title that attracts those kinds of readers to your book.

The best thing to do is not guess. This means using Facebook and Google Ads to test and find answers with statistical significance. Later in this article we will explain how to test your many book ideas against each other to find the winner. It’s rarely what you think.

Before you can test your titles you must come up with them. Some strategies for title ideation work for all types of books, other strategies are specific to fiction or nonfiction. Tim Ferriss shares a wonderful example of how he selected the title for his book The Four Hour Work Week. There were many other options.

Choosing A Nonfiction Book Title

Use a reader-centric approach to craft a title for your book, and more readers will find your book. How does a reader-centric approach work? Work on creating a title that is memorable as well as one that can be easily found in digital searches. When you have narrowed it down to a few options, start looking up the words in Google Ads Keyword Planner. This free tool will help you determine if anyone is already searching for your title. Before we jump into what to look for, we must recommend a book about naming companies buy a best selling author called Brand New Name.

Things to look for when naming a book:

1. Searchability

As books move into a more and more digital landscape, your title’s searchability is more important than it was once. To be successful, a good title is memorable and can be found via a search engine. Before finalizing your title, it might be worth doing a little research to see what comes up when you put it through different search engines. We’re talking about actual search results here. Write the title in Google search, click enter, see what comes up. And don’t forget to look in the Google Shopping tab.

Try also to avoid another book’s exact title unless you as an author have built an impressive personal brand. Try also to avoid words that are autocorrected because it takes a long time for Google to recognize the search properly. This is something discussed about the company MOZ in the book Lost & Founder.

Although one-word titles make a statement and are easy to remember, they might not come up as easily on a search engine query. That does not mean one-word titles are off-limits, but it does mean that you should carefully research the one-word title you have in mind. A multiple-word title will be easier to find in a search, but may not be as easy for readers to remember.

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2. Feedback

Seeking feedback is free one of the easiest and most important methods for creating the perfect title. Because you have spent so much time and effort working with your book, you might be too close to find the right title. Getting advice from a third party can be helpful. While your family and friends might be a good place to start, keep in mind that they might not be your target readers.

Initiating social media polls and connecting with author groups are other ways to collect valuable feedback from those familiar with your genre. To get to that stage, however, you will need to have between three and five of your favorite titles ready to go.

3. Test Your ideas

To be more precise, we recommend performing a name test on Facebook. To do this you need to have book covers created very affordably on Fiverr. They should all look the exact same but have different titles. The cover is your control and the book titles are your variations.

Then create a clicks to website campaign on Facebook with one ad set and wide open targeting. Make 5 ads within this ad set using the 5 book title variations you just made. The copy should include the book titles and they should match the image book title.

Then look at the click through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) to determine which ad is most effective. $90 per variation should be enough data to determine a winner. More on this kind of test in our article about marketing a book on Facebook.

Clayton Christenson wrote a book about figuring out why people buy and might consider reading it before choosing your book title. This book actually has an amazing title too. It spoon feeds a bit of what this book is about in the title: Competing Against Luck. You see he’s telling us that this book will show you have to consistently overcome luck. Wonderful title right?

3. Using Name Generators

If you are having difficulty getting started, try using an online name generator. Although it might be tempting to use whatever the generator spits out, that may not result in the best title. Instead, look at the titles generated as an idea springboard. Take your favorite few, identify what you like about them, and create your own.

In some ways, nonfiction titles are easier to craft because they generally work to answer a more straightforward question. Before opening a nonfiction book, a reader wants to know how that book will help them. An effective nonfiction title not only tells a reader what your book is about, but should also answer that question. That can include who you are, why you are qualified to write a book on that subject, and how helpful the knowledge in your book will be. This also means that nonfiction titles can be more formulaic.

Crafting an Enticing Hook and Intriguing Subtitle

Nonfiction titles often consist of two parts: the hook and the subtitle. The first few words in a nonfiction title are formulated to pique a reader’s interest. After this first phrase, or hook, comes the subtitle, which answers the all-important reader questions. The goal is to capture the reader’s interest in the first part, and then follow up with more detail.

Here are a few examples of the two-part nonfiction title strategy:

Memoirs and Autobiographies

Memoirs and autobiographies are their own special section of nonfiction, and special care needs to be used when devising a title. You can use the same two-part formula successful in other aspects of nonfiction. However, you can also go against that tradition like Michelle Obama with “Becoming.” Experimenting with humor might be the right approach to build the right title for your autobiography or memoir.

-“The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History” by William C. Rempel
-“The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future” by Steve Case
-“King Icahn: The Biography of a Renegade Capitalist” by Mark Stevens
-“Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh

Choosing A Fiction Book Title

If your book is fiction, you have a whole world of words to use in your title. Here are some elements to consider as you develop your title. From genre to tone, it is all about helping readers who will love your book pick it up and take it for a ride.

1. Stay in Your Genre

Defining your genre is a good first step to formulating the perfect title for your fictional book. Different genres have different expectations, and your title is the reader’s first clue to figuring out what kind of book you have written. For example, an edge-of-your-seat crime thriller title will include different language than a period romance novel. Generally, the thriller will harness words that incite a sense of urgency while the romance will use seductive phrasing and dreamy descriptors. Deciding which genre is the best fit for your book will change the kinds of words to use as you develop the perfect title for your book.

One way to do this effectively is to employ keywords. A keyword like “dragon” in the title can tell a reader that a book is fantasy whereas a keyword like “code” in the book’s title shares that the book probably contains a mystery. Of course, there are many exceptions to this strategy, but starting with a genre-defining keyword can help bring readers to your book via your title.

How many keywords can you identify in these examples?

Of course, many books defy traditional genre classification. If your book does not fit easily into a single genre, your task is not as easy as incorporating a keyword or two. Start by finding books similar to yours, and draw inspiration from their titles. Remember, your goal is to attract readers who already know what they enjoy. There are a few strategies for book title creation that are not dependent upon genre like using character names, themes, or settings.

2. The Importance of Tone

Using tone is another potent tool to drive reader perceptions. A title with a pun tells the reader that the book might not take itself too seriously. When you use a serious tone, readers know to expect a book that is a little more intense.

To show how tone can make a difference in your title, check out these two murder mysteries. Although they share a genre, one is humorous while the other is serious.

If your book is light-hearted, consider using a pun. However, be aware of where your readers are. British author Jasper Fforde’s “The Constant Rabbit” hinges on a pun that translates for those familiar with British English, but does not register as a pun for those who speak only American English. While the title works with or without the pun, those who understand the humor see a whole new dimension in the title. If your book is to be available outside of your country, you may want to seek out feedback on your title to prevent any unintentional puns in your title.

3. Character Names and Beyond

Character names can lead to highly successful book titles. Stephen King’s “Carrie,” Jane Austen’s “Emma,” and “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes are a few examples. This strategy means introducing your reader to your main character before the book is ever opened. If using the character’s name by itself is not right, try adding a little description. While “Anne of Green Gables” and “Charlotte’s Web” include the character’s name, they also include a little bit about their contents. As an added bonus, incorporating the character’s name in the title can make it easier to name sequels. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is an example.

4. Locations, Themes, Time Periods

Sometimes, a character’s name simply does not have the right ring to it. When that happens, try exploring the themes, locations, and time periods in your book. What kinds of titles does this generate? Take a cue from Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” or Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and distill your book into the main few themes. George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” shows that a book’s theme does not have to identify a virtue. However, books can be temperamental and complicated creations. It is not always easy to identify clear-cut themes.

Your book’s setting is another idea. From a planet name like Frank Herbert’s “Dune” to a specific place like “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” by Douglas Adams, setting names tell your readers where the journey will take place. James A. Michener achieved amazing levels of success with books simply entitled after the places they described. However, a setting is not necessarily a place – sometimes it is a time. Stephen King’s “11/22/63” shows that a book title does not even have to include any words to tell the reader when it happens. “Clan of the Cave Bear” by Jean M. Auel is another title centered on setting that tells readers when the character’s adventure takes place.

Because fiction can take a reader anywhere real or imagined, there are no title restrictions. This endless possibility is both a blessing and a curse, as it gives authors enough options to boggle the mind. If you are still having difficulties finding your title, use the strategies above in combination with an online title generator.

Drafting the Perfect Book Title

Writing a title can be difficult. How do you define a book by a single phrase or even a single word? Remember to try and reduce the main takeaway of your book into 2-5 words. For example, a couple wonderful books about building a systematic sales engine are Predictable Revenue (about Salesforce’s sales engine) and The Ultimate Sales Machine (Chet built the sales engine for Munger & Buffett). Fortunately, when you apply the above strategies, it is easier than it seems. After all, you have already done the hard work and written the book.

Giving a book a title does involve more than finding a word or phrase that sums it up. As the author, you will also need to consider elements like marketing, searchability, and how well it works with the cover. Sometimes, the author is too close to a work to effectively choose a title, and feedback from others is necessary.

Whether your literary creation is fiction or nonfiction, choosing the perfect title does not have to be as difficult as it seems. Use the strategies outlined here to stop worrying about finding that fabled perfect title. This is your moment of triumph, and you should enjoy the beginning of this journey as much as readers will enjoy your book.

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