Friday, 30 March 2012

What's in a Name?

 "What are you going to call it?" is often the first question people ask me about my book. I answer the same way each time: "I don't know." I have thought about potential names but not one of them has stuck. My book keeps changing and so does it's description.

There is a lot of advice on picking a book title. Sources agree that there is a lot at stake because it is a key influencer on whether or not a reader will buy your book (or someone else's).  

A good title...
- Grabs attention, is intriguing, and pulls the reader in
- Sums up what the book is about 
- Hints at the benefits of buying it (addresses what people need)
- Is relevant to the audience interested in your book
- Is not too obtuse, clever or clichéd 
- Does not include hard to pronounce words
- Is positive
- Matches the tone (and energy) of the book
- Is short (less than eight words)
- Stands out from other books in your genre
- Is easy to remember
- Includes a subtitle that further describe what the reader gets
- Includes key words a reader would type into a search engine to find a book like yours
- Does not mislead the reader

I have been tracking my competition through LinkedIn chat topics on the best change management books written. The list is at 243 and counting. Also, I downloaded the table of contents of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Finding a title that will stand out from these tomes and meet all of the above criteria will be a challenge. There is one more requirement, however, that makes the task a little more manageable: you need to love your title and be proud of it because you will have it for life.



  1. This is a huge can of worms. Does the title direct the book or the book direct the title? Chicken vs Egg debate. You've said that the book keeps changing. Would a name stop this change? Are the changes for the better. I'm an advocate of letting the book chart it's course. You will know the best fit for the winnign title when you are finished....but then I've never written a book so what do I know. Good luck Phil.

    1. Thank you for your note and good luck wishes. I agree the book must chart its course. My observations and recommendations have remained constant but the way they are expressed and formatted keep changing. These changes are for the better because they will help the reader apply them to his or her circumstances. As you wisely point out, I will know the winning title when I see it. Thanks again. Phil