Your book is nearly finished. You’ve worked so hard and you are probably pretty excited about drawing near to completing the manuscript.

But niggling away in the back of your head is the worrisome subject of the title. You know how important it is. You know it will help the book to have a great title, but it’s not easy is it?

Rest assured, this is a problem not just for you as the author. It is probably one of the knottiest problems a book publisher has to deal with; how to come up with a title that tells the reader exactly what they need to know to pull out the purse or the plastic and buy. The title needs to have an emotional pull that irresistibly describes what they’ll learn from investing in your book. And you need to do it all in less than 15 words. No wonder it’s hard!’

Here are our top tips for finding the perfect title for your book:

Every title has two parts

Remember there are two parts to the title. The title itself and the subtitle. Quite often the subtitle will be the part with more words – make sure you use the words carefully as discoverability through online searches is a very important part of book selling. Using Google’s Keyword Planner can help you identify the search terms your audience might be looking for.

Try not to use the same word twice – there’s no law about this, it’s just a waste of a word!

Which path is your reader on?

Will your readers be motivated by pain or pleasure? Are they going to be buying your book chiefly to solve a problem?

In this case, it may be that describing the avoidance or solving of that problem in the title could be the way to go – for example: Solve Your Money Troubles: Strategies to Get Out of Debt and Stay That Way

Or will your reader be searching for ways to enhance an already positive outlook on life? Are they looking towards an even brighter future?

They may be more likely to be motivated by a ‘towards pleasure’ style of title such as: The Idea in You: How to Find It, Build It, and Change Your Life

 Can you get your reader in your title?

Think about the main problem your book solves. In the case of a business or personal development book this will usually be fairly straightforward. If you are clear about this and whose problem you are solving too, then it’s great if you can get them into the title too. So, for example: Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual

 Don’t try to be too clever!

 Are you tempted to search for what I call a ‘clever-clever’ title. Honestly, these rarely work. It’s tempting to come up with a pun or a joke in a book title, but there may be those out there who really would ‘get’ your book and its contents but who don’t ever read it because they have been either put off by its title, or they simply don’t share your sense of humour!

Has it been used before?

Check the title is not already in use. You can do a simple online search either in Google or Amazon to make sure. There is no copyright on book titles, so if someone else used your title many years ago and their book is no longer available then go ahead and use it. If another book exists with the same title and is current you would be better advised to find an alternative. You’d be surprised how often people come up with the same new idea!

Would you pick it up?

When you’ve landed on a title that you think works, take a step back and try to put yourself in the mind of your potential reader. If you were in the market for your book, would you pick it up if with this title? Would it answer your need? Would it make you feel like you want your readers to feel? And, be sure to test it on other people too.

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If coming up with the title is really getting in your way, please remember this. You don’t need to get hung up on the title too soon. I have known some authors get stuck in the writing of the book because they were so concerned about not having a title for it. Keep writing and trust that the title will emerge in good time. As a publisher, I have known this to happen long after an author has delivered a manuscript and even up to the moment when the blurb is being written for the back of the book.

It’s important to write the book to meet the needs of the audience – not to fit in with an already decided title. Having a title in mind is one thing, writing a book that fits with that title may be constraining and you are likely to end up with an inferior book.

So if you get really stuck, don’t panic. Concentrate on getting the book finished. There’s always people you can call on to help with the title. At The Right Book Company, we spend a lot of time working with our authors to find the right title for their book. Whoever you choose to work with, get some suitable folks on board to read your first draft and ask them what they think it should be called, perhaps after sharing with them some of the tips above.

Sue Richardson is an experienced speaker, publisher, Director of The Right Book Company and author of The Authority Guide to Publishing Your Business Book