Question: How can I make my book title stand out and grab reader attention, while also describing what my book is about?



One of the most important marketing decisions you will make prior to publishing your book is choosing your book’s title. Just like the cover artwork, your title acts as a first impression for potential readers, and, in just a few short seconds, they will decide whether or not your book might be something they are interested in purchasing. Your title will also factor into how discoverable your book is online. This means your title needs to be searchable, concise, clear, AND intriguing.

The Key Elements of a Great Book Title

Crafting a book title that will grab attention and entice people to buy your book can actually be more difficult than it sounds. You’ve written an entire book, likely 50,000+ words, and now you have to describe it in just a handful of words. How on earth do you do that?

It’s very common for authors to change their book titles many times during the writing and editing process, trying to find just the right combination of words. Having a title that fails to accurately describe your book or interest potential readers can lead to poor sales, so it’s crucial to find a title that will help your sales, not hurt them. Here are four key elements when creating a winning book title:

Genre accuracy: Your book’s genre will inform the length, tone, and word choice of your title. Research books in your genre to look for patterns or commonalities in the titles. Are one-word or two-word titles popular in your genre? If you’ve written a romance novel, for example, a word related to “love” or “relationships” should appear somewhere in your title. If you’ve written a self-help book, your title and subtitle should indicate readers will be personally transformed from reading your book. When paired with the cover artwork, your title should clearly indicate what type of book the reader is potentially purchasing.

Choosing your book's title is one of the most important marketing decisions you will make.Relevancy to your story or topic: As with genre accuracy, your book’s title must be relevant to the content contained within, or you risk disappointing readers and getting negative reviews. If you’ve written a murder mystery, for example, your title should convey the storyline without giving away too much about the plot. If you’ve written a how-to book, your title should include the subject matter on which you are instructing.

Keyword discoverability: Keywords play an important role when it comes to potential readers discovering your book online. These are the words or phrases that people will type in the search bar on platforms like Google or Amazon to look for a book like yours. Keywords can include genres, subgenres, comparable titles or authors, subject matter, themes, and more. Think about the words that someone would use to describe your book to a friend. Consider using a keyword or two that will lead readers to your book.

Memorable and intriguing: The book market is a competitive place where new titles can easily get lost in all of the noise. One way to ensure your book gets attention is to make your title easy for potential readers to remember. You can do this by using techniques such as a play on words, alliteration, popular phrases, or even humor. In addition, you’ll want to keep it concise, as shorter titles are easier to remember.  To create intrigue, think about which aspect of your book is most interesting. What’s the “hook” that is going to grab readers and keep them turning the pages?

Nonfiction Book Title and Subtitle Tips

Nonfiction books typically have a short main title that captures the essence of the content, and then a longer subtitle that expands on the subject matter and is more specific. When developing the title and subtitle for your nonfiction book, you should think of them as a billboard for what readers will gain, how they will transform, or what problem you are solving for them.

Best practice is to keep the main title at 5 words or less, and the subtitle at 2 lines or less. The main title should be descriptive and interesting enough to draw the potential reader in and entice them to read the subtitle. Think of the subtitle as your chance to hook them with the specific benefits of reading the book. The font size of the main title is typically larger than the font size of the subtitle. 

Here are some examples from our network of experts and authors:

Nonfiction books usually contain a short main title and a longer subtitle that provides more details.

Fiction Book Title Tips

Fiction book titles allow for a little more creative freedom than titles for nonfiction. You are promising readers an escape from real life and maybe even from the world as we know it, so you want to hint at what type of escape that will be. Are you taking the reader on a fantasy adventure, sharing an epic love story, or exposing them to a twisty murder mystery? Your book’s genre should factor into titling your fiction story, as readers of your genre have come to expect certain title lengths and tones. As mentioned above, take a look at popular books in your genre to see if you notice a pattern or commonalities with the titles.

For inspiration, fiction authors can look to their characters, setting, time period, plot, or main conflict to create the title. Think about what’s most unique or intriguing about your story, and figure out how to incorporate that aspect. Or, think about your central theme and if there is a title that conveys the message. If your story is a part of a series, you can include a subtitle that indicates the series name and volume number.

Here are some examples from our network of experts and authors:

Fiction authors can look to their characters, setting, plot, and more to title their book.

Memoir Title Tips

As with fiction books, memoirs allow authors to be more metaphorical or conceptual with their titles. Often times, the author’s main conflict or personal journey inspires a one-word or two-word title. Whether or not a subtitle is included is up to the author. Some authors include the text “A Memoir” below their main title to make it clear to readers that the book is a true story. Others provide a subtitle with more details about the story’s context or universal messages so that potential readers will connect and want to learn more.

Here are examples of popular memoirs:

Memoir authors often look to their main conflict or personal journey to title their books.

For tips specific to titling children’s books, check out this blog post on children’s book covers.

Research Your Proposed Titles and Get Feedback

Once you have some title ideas in mind, it’s important to research the market to see if there are other books already using the same titles. While book titles can’t be copyrighted, you risk muddying the marketing waters and confusing readers if you use a title that is already published in the marketplace. It’s best to use something unique.

A great way to test your book title ideas is to share them with your followers. You can post a poll on social media to see which title they prefer, or include the options in your email newsletter and invite feedback.

And, don’t forget the importance of using the right font type, font size, and color for your book title when the cover design is finalized. You want to make sure the title conveys the tone of the content, complements the artwork, and is easy to read with a quick glance.

If you’re looking for further inspiration or want to brainstorm book title ideas, there are several title generator tools available online. You can also plug your book description into an AI platform like ChatGPT and request book title ideas. These tools can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing!