Picking the right title for your book is essential. It will help you attract the readership you require to succeed. Hayim Oshky looks at the key considerations of selecting the right book title.
Look at subject matter
The easiest way to pick a title, is to ask yourself one simple question – “what is my book really about?” The answer to this query will provide you with the subject matter of your work – what readers can expect to find when picking up your book. Therefore, if you centre your title around your book’s subject matter, you could whet a readers’ appetite for the words that lay inside.
There are a number of ways to go about this. You could, for instance, centre the title on the overarching theme of your book, e.g. Pride and Prejudice. Alternatively, you could base the title on your book’s dominating protagonist e.g. Jane Eyre or the main event which drives its narrative e.g. The Hunger Games. Considering the enduring popularity of the examples I’ve cited here, it is clear that basing your book’s title on its subject matter could provide you with a winning strategy.
Try out a twist
If a literal interpretation of your book’s subject matter doesn’t prove effective, why not try putting a spin on it, to dream up the perfect title? A post from Indie Book Launcher explains that this could allow you to take your “subject and transform it to add intrigue, give it a pleasing sound, and make it more unique.” By creating a distinctive title, you could ensure your book stands out in the minds of potential readers, giving them the impetus they need to pick it up and read.
There are multiple ways to work this strategy. You could use a metaphor, famously illustrated by the book To Kill a Mockingbird. This title is not literal; instead it acts as a metaphor for the loss of innocence. Alternatively, you could use dialogue as the inspiration for the title like in Gone With The Wind, which was a favoured expression of the book’s protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara.
Another approach is to inject an element of intrigue. For instance by naming his play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Edward Albee creates a burning curiosity, which readers have to engage with his work to sate. When using this strategy, manipulate language through tools such as metaphors, wordplay, juxtaposition, imagery etc. to craft a title which could appeal to your target audience.
Test your title
Once you have developed a potential title, test it out on your target readers by conducting marketing research. Utilise email marketing to disseminate potential titles into your established following. This will allow you to gather the views of the readers you who are most receptive to your literary style and thus, whose attention you need to attract to turn yourself into a successful author.
Also, educate yourself on marketing books through social media. Once you have established a robust social media following, you can float title ideas on these sites, creating hype for your upcoming book. By allowing your desired readers the chance to take part in the book title selection process, you create a ready-made community of fans who will follow your book’s every move as it enters the market, heightening your chances of developing the devoted readership required to succeed.
Thank you for reading… Hayim Oshky.