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 isn’t going to be catchy, it isn’t going to sell. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean.

If you are what your book is, your book is definitely going to 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

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!


2) What Does Your Title Say?

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 really 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? On the other hand, what happens in ‘Gone’ by Michael Grant? The first one’s too boringly obvious, the second one – a major pass.


3) One Word Titles

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.

This is why research is important. Run a test for any and all book title ideas that you may have in order to avoid confusion. Wouldn’t want anyone confusing your masterpiece for some other book titled ‘Perfection’ now, would you?


5) Easy Enunciation

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 you can be sure they won’t be coming out of anyone’s mouths. You’ll spend most of your time post-release correcting pronunciations with not many people connecting to it in the first place. So unless necessary, stick to what’s easily memorable.  


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’s going to do your book justice instead of simply 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 thereby losing potential readers. The blank image on ‘Reusing Old Graves’ by Alastair Shaw and Douglas Davies is…umm, misleading to say the least.

Choose wisely.


8) Essence of your Book

Your title, while being catchy, funny and all things amazing, must also be relevant 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

It’s Sentence Case, or Title Case depending on how you choose to 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; the product of a thousand hours, endless cups of coffee, a million edits and more, is going to be recognized by this particular title. Aside from being descriptive, therefore, it’s vital to ensure that it is going to 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 is going to 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!