Book Titles: When Are Subtitles Necessary? - article

Sometimes a title isn't enough to draw in readers. A subtitle will help you position your book in the marketplace. This example driven article will help you decide if you need a subtitle.

Have you ever picked up a book and had no clue what it is about? Subtitles clarify, expand on and define titles. They are a tool of the non-fiction writer and are rarely used in fiction. The following three examples will help you decide if your book needs a subtitle.

 Some non-fiction books have unusual titles that don't reveal much about the book's subject matter. For example in Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell reveals the uncommon term "outliers" with a simple subtitle. Readers are tantalized with the unfamiliar term but are drawn in with clarity of the subtitle. Is your title unusual too? Clarify it with a simplistic subtitle. You interest the reader with your oblique title and hook them with the subtitle.

Other non-fiction titles may misdirect some readers, and subtitles helps position them in the marketplace. Consider the title and subtitle: Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the 10th Dimension by Michio Kaku. Author Kaku offers direction to hungry readers by expanding on the one word title. Readers immediately know this is no sci-fi book but a read for those interested in theoretical physics. A carefully chosen subtitle will help the right readers snap up your book.

Some non-fiction titles are provocative in nature but don't really reveal the subject matter of a book at all. A subtitle is absolutely necessary to connect these books with readers. Think about this title: Some Assembly Required - A Journal of a Son's First Son by Anne Lamott and Sam Lamott. The title could cover a myriad of subjects. It's interesting but broad in scope. Without a subtitle, this book might be manual on how to make homemade beer to a book on parenting. The title evokes a feeling in the reader, but the subtitle is the hook. Your provocative title might need a subtitle to target your readers. Consider adding one to more effectively market your book.

Tip - Create the best subtitles through collaboration. Survey supportive individuals with a list of possible subtitles. Ask them which one they like best. This not only helps you chose a great title but you've also begun to engage others in the creation of your book. A good thing when it comes time to market it.

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