6 Simple Steps to Picking Your Perfect Title
First impressions are very important.
Whether it’s you walking into an important meeting, or someone seeing your book for the first time, the person viewing you or your book will form an opinion at first sight. It’s just human nature. It’s how we create memories.
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If you want people to notice and buy your book, you need to make a good first impression.
Walk into any bookstore or even your local library, and you’ll notice the colors of the books first.
Depending on what you are looking for, different colors will appeal to you. Take cookbooks, for example. Many of today’s “healthy eating” cookbooks are either white or earth tone, while those for baking may incorporate pink – like frosting, which isn’t always healthy.
As you get closer to the books, you’ll start to read titles. Once again, first impressions will be important. Titles need to be short, concise and convey the book’s message.
Not everyone will take time to read the back matter, or even the subtitle if the title doesn’t grab them first.
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What’s the best strategy for picking book titles?
How do you get feedback?
Here’s a simple 6-step strategy for picking great book title ideas:
1. Choose three to five titles.
Set aside some uninterrupted time for a personal brainstorming session. Grab a piece of paper and start listing all the various titles you can think of off the top of your head.
- What is your book about?
- Are there any synonyms you can use to liven the title up?
- What pain point will you solve for your reader?
- Can you phrase the title as a question?
- Can you use alliteration?
- What about a rhyme?
Write down everything and then pick out three to five that you really like. Move forward with those titles.
2. Remember the 5 attributes of a good title.
These attributes will help you narrow down your selection of titles:
- Attention-grabbing – Makes people pause and want to check the book out.
- Memorable – Two to three words.
- Informative – Make sure the subtitle delivers on the promise of the book.
- Easy to say
- Not embarrassing or problematic for someone to say aloud to their friends, making it easily shareable.
3. Get some free feedback.
You can do this in any number of ways using polls:
- Post a poll on your personal Facebook wall, Tweet the choices with hashtags, or post a graphic on Instagram. Social media is a great place to get feedback because everyone has an opinion – and these days, they love to share that opinion, too. Also, consider Google+ and LinkedIn.
- If you have a business page, or an author page, on Facebook, post a poll there.
- If you’re part of a Facebook group, post a poll there if it’s allowed – be sure to follow the group’s posting rules!
- Run a poll on your blog. If you use WordPress, install WP-Polls, or you can ask readers to leave a comment with their choice.
- Send out an email to your newsletter list directing people to the poll on your blog or to your Facebook poll. (Be aware that you may get some people who vote on more than one platform – consider only having one poll, such as the one on your blog, and directing all social media and newsletter traffic there.)
Remember to ask for comments when you post a poll on social media.
Sometimes, friends and readers will have some great ideas and suggestions for even better titles! If someone offers a suggestion you like, or if others respond that they like the title better, add it to your poll on Facebook.
Read Related: How To Write A Good Book Title That Screams “Buy Me”!
Don’t forget to close your poll, too. A week should be plenty of time for people to see and respond to your poll.
Close your poll and move on – otherwise, if you get a comment a month later after you’ve chosen your title, you may start second-guessing your choice.
You don’t need that kind of stress in your life! Close the poll and move on to step three.
4. Get some paid feedback.
After you’ve completed the poll through the free channels mentioned in step #2, head over to PickFu.com to get anonymous feedback on the top two titles.
Polls on PickFu start at $20 to get feedback from 50 responders.
These responders won’t know you, they won’t know anything about your book, and they’ll be honest – because they don’t really care what you think, they’re just giving their opinion.
Harsh, but true – and very helpful when you think about it!
5. Come up with a hook.
A hook for your book is similar to an elevator pitch for your business—a creative sentence or two that explains what your book is all about and what problems it solves.
It also helps to distinguish your book from other books in your niche. There’s nothing new under the sun, so it is important to differentiate yourself from others. A hook can do this for you, and help you find your own unique angle.
Some examples of really good hooks include:
- Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn
- The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
- Habit Stacking by Steve Scott
6) Use the feedback to craft your final title.
Sift through all the comments from PickFu and social media; take everything into consideration. Look for honest feedback, such as, “This one sounds better because…” or “This one makes me feel…”
Even the negative feedback will be helpful.
If more than one person states neither title offers clarity on the book’s content, maybe you need to do some tweaking.
The negative comments may sting a little, but they may also help you see things from a different angle. You may even get some feedback that leads you to an even better title.
You might wonder that if PickFu seems to be the best way to finalize your title, why bother with the other steps? I can answer that in one word:
When you post your poll on social media, when you ask your newsletter subscribers for help, when you give a little hint at what your book is about to anyone, you are advertising.
You’re letting people know you have a book coming out, and you’re giving them just enough information to pique their interest.
Asking for feedback should be done a couple of weeks before you plan to publish your book. This will get your name out there and create a buzz in your readers’ minds about your upcoming book.
Your book may be your baby, but you want that baby to sell.
Picking a great book title can help. Once you’ve created your list of possible titles, included the five attributes, come up with a great hook, and have some input from friends, family, and readers, then get some input from strangers.
You may still not be 100% sure you have chosen the best title for your next best seller, but after all of this work, it’s time to move forward.
As you write more books and create more titles, you’ll begin to get a better feel for what resonates with your readers.