You thought writing the book was the biggest hurdle. Or maybe editing it was. But what are you going to call it?

Don’t judge a book by its cover, they say, so how about we judge the titles? With thousands of books being released every single day, it’s more important than ever to make sure your book has a memorable title.

Standing in a bookstore, readers (i.e. me) skim through titles fast enough that you won’t see their eyes move. Each book gets about a second or two and is then either picked up for closer examination or forgotten about. If your book’s title will not be catchy, it will not sell. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean.

If you are what your book is, your book will definitely be analyzed by what its title is. So how do you decide? Follow these golden rules to picking the perfect book title!

Let’s do it.


1) Research

perfect book title

What was the last title that caught your eye, or the book that’s always at the tip of your tongue? Looking up famous novels will help you identify all the titles you find appealing. Deconstruct what you find appealing about it and why–this will help you narrow down elements for your own book and help you pick a perfect book title!


2) What Does Your Title Say?

perfect book title, cover

Think of your book title as a teaser to your story. It’s all about luring the potential reader just the right amount. Your title can’t be a dead giveaway, but keeping it ambiguous won’t interest your reader either.

For example, what do you think happens at the end of ‘All’s Well That End’s Well’ by William Shakespeare? What happens in ‘Gone’ by Michael Grant? The first one’s too boringly obvious, the second one–a major pass.


3) One Word Titles

perfect book title, cover

This is a risk you’ll take at your own peril. No matter how integral ‘Sandalwood’ might be to your book, it won’t work as a title unless accompanied by compelling imagery. It just doesn’t say enough, and could easily be mistaken for a book on the virtues of sandalwood.

Setting aside the debate on the vagueness of just one word, it’s not a smart move for the eventual digital marketing of your book. Search results will drown out your book amongst thousands of others that contain the word. Or —


4) Duplicates


— you could end up with duplicate titles.

Therefore, research is important. Run a test for all book title ideas that you may have to avoid confusion. Wouldn’t want anyone confuses your masterpiece for some other book titled ‘Perfection’ now, would you?


5) Easy Enunciation

perfect book title

Would you have known about the ‘Arabian Nights’, primarily a Middle-Eastern set of stories, if it had been titled Shahrzad instead?

Most books get their publicity via word of mouth, and if those words don’t come easily, they won’t be coming out of anyone’s mouths. You’ll spend most of your time post-release correcting pronunciations with few people connecting to it. So, stick to what’s easily memorable and get one step closer to your perfect book title.  


6) Short and Simple


‘The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade’ by Peter Weiss is the title of a play.

Yep. Just the one. A long, long one.

I’m sure you can already tell what’s wrong with this title, and what you should avoid. Long titles can sometimes be clever, funny or both – but you need to ensure it will do your book justice instead of being an annoying mouthful.


7) Cover Complementary


They should go together, that’s all, really. Your title and cover imagery should always be in sync; or you’ll end up confusing and losing potential readers. The blank image on ‘Reusing Old Graves’ by Alastair Shaw and Douglas Davies is… um, misleading.

Choose wisely.


8) Essence of your Book


Your title, while being catchy, funny and all things amazing, must also apply to the essence of your book. If you make your readers turn 300 pages only to find out that the title had nothing to do with the story – you dead.

Take, for instance, the book ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ by Garth Stein has nothing to do with art, rain or even racing save one sentence somewhere. It’s a beautiful book, sure, but misleading titles can and will annoy readers.  


9) Punctuation

perfect book title

It’s Sentence Case, or Title Case depending on how you get your font stylized. Never Toggle, it’s too tacky. Seriously.

Aside from this, it’s also important to note that accents on your word can pose a problem while creating websites.  


10) Troll Proof


Your story; this title will recognize the product of a thousand hours, endless cups of coffee, a million edits and more. Aside from being descriptive, therefore, it’s vital to ensure that it will be troll proof. Don’t make the mistake of trying too hard to be anything, just keep it simple.

What it all boils down to is how great your story will be or already is. To ensure a perfect hero, you can always check it off against Joseph Campbell’s famous ‘Hero’s Journey – a theory that stands the test of time until today.

Until then, all the best!