Updated: Mar 16, 2021
By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com
Are titles important? Hell, yes! Is that a good enough answer? Well, if I got your attention you now know what your title should do. It is the most important marketing tool that you have. It really is the first impression. Having a great title will not make your book great, but having a lousy title can really hurt your chances at success no matter how good the writing is.
Peruse top ten lists of the greatest titles ever, and all are familiar. Some of the most memorable ones include The Devil Wears Prada, Gone with the Wind, The Silence of the Lambs, Love in the Time of Cholera, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. All grab your attention. Each one you have heard before, and every one is striking
When choosing a title, remember to make it short and concise. Do not bore readers with overlong titles that they will not remember. Many sales come from word of mouth, so titles should be easy to say. You do not want people hesitating to push your book only because your title includes a Polish professor whose name is difficult to pronounce. Stay away from titles that could be problematic, such as titles that include controversial terms or subjects. The words racism, pornography or antisemitism may cause some people to be a bit squeamish to discuss them. Remember the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the buzz it generated? Would it have enjoyed such success if it were called Mr. Grey and a Sadomasochistic Romance?
Generally, nonfiction books can have a subtitle while fiction can have a tagline. A subtitle is placed just below the title, while the tagline is normally placed closer to the bottom of the front cover. A tagline hints to the genre, topic or setting and is used to “hook” the reader. As with a title, if you are going to use a tagline you want to use a good one. Look up other novels and their taglines to get a feel as to how they are used or if you think you even need one.
When coming up with a title and or a tagline, try brainstorming with other people. If you come up with what you believe is a clever title, test it out on friends and see how they respond. Lastly, note that titles are not copyrighted. That means other people already may have used the same title. If you do not want to share a title, it would be a good idea to do a search and see if any other books have the same name. This can prove important when potential readers search out your title on the Internet. If different books with the same title pop up, you may need to do some SEO (search engine optimization) or consider a different title.