Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Do Titles and Sub-Titles Really Sell Books?

A very good morning to all! Today I am going to address a topic that many readers and novice writers have asked about on several occasions.

Do Titles and Sub-Titles Really Sell Books?

The short answer is, yes. A title and sub-title really do sell books. Yet, I will say this, subtitles are more used in non-fiction than fiction so consider this while choosing your title. If a book does not appeal to a reader at the outset, it will be overlooked and not purchased. The title of the book is many times the first element that creates the primary attraction to a book, and then follows the cover art, tagline and blurb.

Observe people who are browsing in a bookstore. An appealing title grabs their interest and makes them reach for the book out of curiosity. A great title makes browsers imagine, “Really?” or “What does THAT mean?” or “That’s what I need”. Word to the wise, when choosing your book’s title think long and hard and do not rush the process. The title must offer some clues about the book’s contents in a catchy “one-liner”.

At times, authors struggle immensely with choosing a title for their books, unaware that the title is there somewhere in the content of their work. Because they are too close to the project it hides in plain sight. So try this, get impartial and unbiased opinions. Many times your critique partners and beta readers can help you either refine the title you already chosen or choose one that is appealing to readers.

On the other hand, on the tongue-in-cheek advice of one publishing professional, open a bottle of wine and let your imagination go and start writing. Not advisable to do all the time mind you.

How to get started? Write down a list of everything that comes to mind about what you have written in your book and don't worry nothing is too silly, but do try to hit on the main theme or message.

When you have completed your list (and the wine is all gone), take your notes and group them into categories. Select the snappiest, most intriguing words that say something about your book. Just avoid making them sound like a boring explanation.

Let’s give it a try, sans the bottle of wine for now. Below are some titles that will help get your brain cranking and your mojo flowing.

    Woman-Common Sense Rules!
    Born to Cook
    Build Your Stairway to Heaven
    Feel the Burn
    Write Success into Your Life

Note, your title should be your “brand”, if you are planning on a series. Then as you make your brand into a household word, you guarantee future sales. As each title in the series is published, you know that people will buy the latest book to complete the series. Think Harry Potter or Nancy Drew.

If you absolutely need a subtitle use it wisely because it can be a great tool to increase sales. Remember, the subtitle cuts to the heart of the book and convinces the reader of the book’s benefits. It lets readers know that the book is one of a kind and it's a must have. It makes the reader believe that he or she just can’t live without it – and that is your objective.

Check out the following subtitles:

    Woman-Common Sense Rules! – The Spiritual Woman’s Guide to Finding Yourself When   
    You Didn’t Know You Were Missing
    Born to Cook – Why “Waist” Time in the Kitchen?
    Build Your Stairway to Heaven – the 9 habits of maximum happiness
    Feel the Burn – Fiery Food with a Light New Attitude!
    Write Success into Your Life - 
    A road map for achieving your goals and surviving success

In the title and even in the subtitle, you feel free to use humor or emotions to sell your book, but do everything to avoid clich├ęs and “corny” expressions, or overly common sayings. Those things soon become stale and annoying. Keep your title unique, catchy and relevant.

Before making the final decision on your title, conduct a title search. Although you cannot copyright a title, duplicating titles only leads to confusion. The idea is to entice readers to buy your book, not a competitor’s book. In short, make your title one that jumps off the cover at readers, enticing them to read more about your book which, in all likelihood, leads to increased book sales for you.

I hope you’ve found this information useful. Here’s to your book promoting success! If you have any questions or would like to add to today’s topic please feel free to comment.


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