After all the hard work that goes into taking an idea for a book from conception to completion, the one thing you don't want to happen is that no one gives it a chance simply because you weren't able to sell it with your title.
While the process for choosing that perfect title can be different for each author, the end result has to help project your finished work forward and out into the marketplace.
Start with a mind map of all the key elements you feel stand out in your story.
This can simply be an exercise in exploring the traditional five w's.
Who is this story about? What takes place during the tale and what is the moral or point to it? Where does it take place and is that place unique and central enough to mention? When is the story happening and could that influence the audiences choice to read? Why are the characters doing what they do and why should anyone care to go along for this journey with you?
Use your list to create a few working titles and research if those titles are taken.
After you've created your list, highlight those elements that could make potential titles and select the ones you feel have the most promise. Then it is time to do a little market research.
Get onto Amazon and search out those terms. You're looking to see what is sitting on the virtual bookshelf where you'd like to be. If you really like a particular title but it is already taken, ask yourself if there is a way you can change it around to fit your needs without being confused for another book.
Put your best ideas for a book title to the test, does it make you want to open the cover?
The truth is that you want your book title to have a sense of mystery to it coupled with the promise of pay off.
You can very much so use the time you spend researching to see what is already working and see how you can use a little bit of that for your project. Because after all, if they aren't stopped in their tracks while scanning the shelf either in person or online then they'll never pick up or click on your title and crack the cover.
That's just not acceptable.
How does it fare with the search crowd?
Once you've gotten to this point you've found the essence of what your book is about, seen what the competition has done, and instilled an actionable element to your project. Now it's time to see just what kind of web traffic your top title contenders can expect to be competing for.
You can use a few different tools to find out if your title is "search friendly."
For starters, run your top picks through Google AdWords Keyword Search to see how much traffic the keywords in your title are getting. This will also show a level of competition for those terms as well as some additional suggestions. Then, head over to Google Trends and input the keywords with the highest traffic and lowest competition rates to see what the current trend is for them. If all checks out you're ready to move on. (Another cool free tool is to use Facebook Ads to see how many users have listed in their profiles your topic, genre, and keywords.)
Is it easy enough for fans to remember and catchy enough to grow legs when shared through social media?
Finally, you need to know that one of the key ways businesses in general are seeing success these days is through the interaction via social media. Sure, you've come up with a nice, tight list of titles for your latest project, but are they catchy enough to pique the interest of a potential reader in 140 characters or less?
In some instances you will have developed a self-explanatory title that will work well in the world of tweets and posts, but if you feel you've fallen a little short then go back through your notes and develop a sub-title or single sentence using the same process that can accompany your title on its journey to your new found readers.
Wow ... ran my title on google, it's VERY popular. Now I have to rethink the whole title / message.
Thank you for this advice. Very helpful and practical ideas.
Really liked and found extremely helpful this commentary.
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