How Do You Write A Killer Title?

The title is one of the most important things to bear in mind when selling a book. I have already declared on this blog time and time again what it takes to sell a book online. There’s no weird alchemy involved, just a handful of very simple, straight-forward rules that make the difference between success and the book disappearing into a vacuum.

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Reviews
  4. Blurb
  5. First Chapter (or line)

So, if these five items lead me to the holy grail of bestselling, mind-exploding success then maybe I should think about them a bit closer. In this post I’m going to write down my thoughts on how to create a marketable, dynamite title that compels a potential reader to click like they’ve never clicked before.

If I was going down the traditional route I daresay that some snazzy publisher-type would take this decision out of my hands even if I didn’t want them to. They know the markets, they know the genres, they’ve sold books before and to them I would be nothing but some cheap layabout wordsmith. What would I know? But… I’m not going down that road, I’m doing it myself however I still want the best title I can think of. After all, it’s important.

Don’t get attached

The worst thing you can do is get emotionally attached to the title that you’ve always had ever since you thought about the project. It’s probably one of the first things you considered and you’ve told people about it already, you’ve only ever known it as that. It’d be like changing the name of one of your children, how dare I suggest you think of changing, but let’s be honest, we’re trying to sell our books here. Business heads on and kick out the clinginess. Who really cares what you’ve called it for a year or two? Not the market of readers out there in Amazon World who are going to look at your book for about 2 seconds if you’re lucky.

Look at the genre

This goes the same for cover as well. I want my book to sit comfortably with it’s competition not jar against them. It needs to look like it belongs but unique enough to stand out. A difficult balance. I’m going to go into the genre and start making a note of the titles that sound enticing to me. My aim will be to emulate them without sounding too similar, get the level and the feel right but nothing more.

Brain dump the themes from my book

I’m going to write down everything I can think of that my book touches upon. Characters key traits, locations, context, plot, themes, period, everything that I can think of and make a long list of single words.

Make up combinations of words

From the list I’ll pull out words that jump out at me and try them with others from the list and just keep experimenting with different phrases.

Make it appropriate

A fiction novel has to sound compelling if someone’s going to choose to buy it, but depending on the genre that will take various forms. You wouldn’t use a funny title for a horror book that’s meant to appeal to readers that wish to be scared. A non-fiction book must relate to the subject matter so that readers can instantly identify it as something they’re interested in.

Above all else the title must convey the feel of your book and be able to appeal to customers. These two factors are more important than a clever title that people will wryly smile at once they’ve finished the whole thing.

Let me know if you think of anything else that goes in to a great title?


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