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SPQ 020: How to Craft Compelling Book Titles

Written by Leigh Morgan on January 13, 2015. Listen to SPQ: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed
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SPQ 020: How to Craft Compelling Book Titles

The Question…

Thomas Lau of Kindle Bestseller Empire asks:

Can you share your thought process when deciding on the titles for your books? What tips can you give for authors who can’t fit keywords with high search volumes into their titles?

Biggest Takeaway…

Steve’s Answer…

The title of your book is really what helps it sell on Amazon and other ebook platforms. In episode 19, Steve explained why he doesn’t think keywords are all that important. He advises authors to avoid creating keyword-rich titles with a bunch of random words.

Your book title should do the following:

Steve breaks his titles into two sections: the main title and the subtitle. Each one has a different job. The main title should be two to four words that create curiosity. Four types of titles help grab attention:

  1. Attention-grabbers (Habit Stacking, Running Sucks)
  2. Benefit-driven (Getting Things Done, How to Win Friends and Influence People)
  3. Time-specific results (The 4-Hour Workweek, The 17 Day Diet)
  4. Numbered lists of content (21 Prayers of Gratitude, How to Make Him Beg to Be Your Boyfriend in 6 Simple Steps)

Find a title that really stands out and packs a bit of punch. Your main title should also be easy to remember.

The subtitle’s job is to explain the overall benefit readers will receive from reading your book. One example is the subtitle of Steve’s Habit Stacking book: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less.

Crafting titles is hard work, but it comes down to simple copywriting, or the art of writing compelling content that makes people want to buy. Steve recommends creating a swipe file to help you improve your copywriting skills. A swipe file contains examples of really good copywriting to help you figure out what to write when you create your book titles.

There are a lot of good copywriting resources out there. Here are some of the resources Steve used to prepare for this episode:

Steve believes crafting a book title is more of an art than a science. It takes a lot of testing and playing with different combinations to find a title that works for you. He recommends spending 30 to 60 minutes writing down different title combinations.

Use your swipe file, think of the main benefits of reading your book, and experiment with adding powerful words to each potential title. Then narrow your list to three potential titles and ask for feedback from family members, friends, and social media connections. If you belong to a writing group, ask group members for their opinions.

Steve belongs to a group called Pat’s First Kindle Group. When he was struggling with the title for his most recent book, he posted several potential titles and asked for feedback. Some of the feedback was negative, but it helped him pick the best title for his book.

You can also use a service like PickFu to solicit feedback. This tool allows you to poll 50 different people who don’t have a personal stake in your success, so the feedback is typically very honest. It costs $20 per poll.

Book titles are very important for a book-based business. Steve believes Habit Stacking sold well because it had a compelling title and subtitle, so make sure you spend time finding the right title for your book.

Resources and Links

SPQ019: In episode 19 of the Self-Publishing Questions podcast, Steve explained why authors should not focus on keywords when writing their books

317 Power Words: Consult this list of power words to make your book title more compelling

Magnetic Headlines Course: Learn how to write headlines that sell

Hooks for Books: Find out how to create compelling book titles that make people want to buy

Pat’s First Kindle Group: Pat Flynn’s group has nearly 10,000 members sharing tips and opinions on everything related to self-publishing

PickFu: Create a poll to find the best title for your book

  • http://about.me/justinchen Justin C

    Thanks for mentioning PickFu!

  • http://www.stevescottsite.com/ Steve Scott

    My pleasure Justin. Will try it for my next book title. (Forgot to do so for the latest one.)