Writing a Book? Your Title is Key

If you’re writing a book or thinking of writing one, consider that the title of that book is extremely important. Good titles sell books, just like attractive book covers do. A good title will grab the readers’ attention so they’ll buy it or check it out at the library. Your book may be a great one, but it won’t get discovered as easily if the title is ho-hum.

Through the decades, I’ve seen some really great titles on bookstore shelves. If your writing a book, investigate the titles of similar books, and strive to do better with your title. Remember, too, that a title must be understandable, particularly with non-fiction. If one doesn’t understand a non-fiction title, one may not always investigate the book’s back cover that tells what it’s about.

Make your title engaging. If it’s non-fiction, you can include a sub-title to clarify the title. With non-fiction, often a title that is effective includes an action-packed verb. Or, an effective title is one that piques your curiosity with its cleverness, while at the same time being comprehensible.

I’ve listed some books below with good titles, some of which I’ve read, others that I intend to read once I have some time:

Non-Fiction:

1) The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

2) From Victim to Victor: A Step-by-Step Guide for Ending the Nightmare of Identity Theft, By Mari J. Frank, Esq.

3) Live Your Road Trip Dream, by Phil and Carol White.

4) Time Outs for Grown-ups: 5-Minute Smile Breaks, by Sheila Buska.

5) Too Smart To Be Rich: On Being A Yuffie* Young Urban Failure, by Patty Friedmann

6) Winning the Pain Game, by Bill Code, M.D.

7) The Absolute Beginner’s Cookbook Or How Long Do I Cook a 3-Minute Egg?, by Jackie Eddy and Eleanor Clark

8) Body Esteem: Weight Loss Through Self-Discovery, by Sherri Dawson

Fiction:

1) Disposable Girl, by Kate Moulton

2) Wearing the Spider, by Susan E. Schaab

3) The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

4) Rage of Angels, by Sidney Sheldon

5) The Devil’s Alternative, by Frederick Forsyth

6) Looking for Mr. Goodbar, by Judith Rossner

7) The Street Life Series: Is It Suicide or Murder?, by Kevin M. Weeks

Children’s:

1) Sad Sam, Glad Sam, by L.E. Rainey

2) I Can Be Anything Creative Activity Book, by Betsy Chasse and Gary Craig

3) Hunting for Hidden Gold, by Franklin Dixon

4) If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff

5) The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell

6) The Tale of Jemina Puddle-Duck, by Beatrix Potter

7) The Silver Slippers, by Elizabeth Koda-Callan

It’s always helpful to brainstorm for titles, and then try them out on friends or fellow writers. Their first reaction may be telling!

Copyright 2012 by Charlotte Digregorio.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. I recently received an Official Commendation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of five non-fiction books: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; and Your Original Personal Ad. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. I have won forty-seven poetry awards, writing twelve poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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13 Responses to Writing a Book? Your Title is Key

  1. Merrill Ann Gonzales says:

    And it always helps to have a bit of humor about it. One of my very favorite books was named “Spanish Lessons”… If anyone knows me, I don’t speak a word of Spanish (although I can understand a few written words.) But Spanish culture seemed to thread through my entire life. The book turned out to be about a journalist who, in a mid-life change, left everything and went to live in Spain. The culture clash that followed turned out to be, for me a delightful escape…and a lesson in more than language…but what makes language so much fun. It was the title after all that got my attention… that set the stage… and the book lived up to it’s title as well. “Spanish Lessons: Beginning a New Life in Spain” by Derek Lambert – Just a fun read!

  2. “The Bible” Fairly unsophisticated title alright but I hear it’s done very well. I always wanted to interview Clinton about his book “My Life” ( what a genius , right?) and say “Well Mr President, what’s the book about?”

  3. Don Baird says:

    Thanks for posting. I enjoyed pondering your thoughts and ideas. Some great titles there!!!

  4. Very good point. Also important is the cover design. Many times before I see the title of a book on the shelf at the bookstore or library I am drawn in by the design. Charlotte, perhaps you could give us your thoughts on this.

    • William, I only briefly referred to book covers in my blog. So, thanks for asking. As for the cover, bright colors stand out. Red is always a nice color for a book cover. It calls attention to the reader, particularly if it’s a non-fiction book that deals with an issue or problem. For example, my book “Everything You need to Know About Nursing Homes,” has a red cover because I want the subject matter to stand out and alert people to a problem. I also had a red book cover on my book “You Can Be A Columnist” because it can, in certain cases, also convey something upbeat. It just depends on the subject matter.

      I tend to think white covers should only be used if you have a literary book like a poetry book. That would give it a nice clean look. A conservative, serious look.

      Yellow, orange or purple covers would appeal to children.

      You really have to understand the nature of your book and the idea you want to convey. A good graphic artist really works with color, and they usually consult with the author. A good artist also works with concepts to understand the subject matter of the book and design it accordingly.

      For example, my book “Your Original Personal Ad: The Complete Guide to Expressing Your Unique Sentiments to Find Your Dream Person” has a gold cover. This is very appropriate for the subject matter, and it also gives it a gifty look so people would even feel comfortable giving it to a friend who is looking for a mate. The cover was stunning with designs of quirky people writing ads and also reading newspapers for ads.

      My book, “Beginners’ Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features” has a blue color with red and white lettering. Blue with red and white lettering is very attractive. The design with “Article Accepted” obviously attracts readers.

      My “You Can Be A Columnist” has a quirky design of an old-fashioned typewriter just like the famous columnists in history used.

      If you had a sci-fi novel, I would think deep purple might attract readers.

      Again, a good graphic artist should work with the author to come up with something appropriate, and it’s important to work with one specifically versed in book covers. Everyone is a specialist these days, after all.

      Hope this helps, William, and thanks for reading my blog and commenting! Keep writing your poetry!

      In summary, just be sure your book cover “sings” out to readers from the bookshelf.

      • Merrill Ann Gonzales says:

        Color has a great literature of psychological influences on us… red tends to energize, pink tends to calm; blue and green tend to relax; orange is a color of gregariousness, yellow is often forward looking…. and so on. You learn that blue gives distance to a painting, whereas yellow brings it forward. It’s a very interesting science and one worth studying.

      • Thanks, Merrill. This is really helpful.

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