Hey authors! Welcome back to the Written Word Media site. Today we’re discussing how to write a book title. Although this part of the book writing process can oftentimes be overlooked, it’s still a crucial step in finishing your work and getting it into the world. Furthermore, a good book title has the ability to capture a reader’s attention with just a few words.
Keep reading to find our tips and tricks for writing the perfect title for your book.
- How to brainstorm book titles
- How to choose a book title based on genre
- Our formula for book title success
Brainstorming your book title
Oftentimes, the hardest part of writing is just getting started. If you’re struggling with creating a book title, we recommend beginning by taking a look at other titles for a little inspiration. Browsing online retailers can give you an idea of title themes across particular genres. If you see particular titles that really stand out to you, jot them down! What stands out? Alliteration, descriptive language, and such? Hone in on what you like most – chances are that other readers like these things, too.
With so many tools available through the internet, using a book title generator can also be a great way to brainstorm ideas. Some generators spit out ideas specific to certain genres, which can be immensely helpful in narrowing your focus. Here are some of the top generator tools online:
- Reedsy’s book title generator (for Crime, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, or Sci-Fi books)
- Fantasy name generator (surprisingly, not just for Fantasy titles! You can use this to generate titles for Adventure, Children’s, Drama, and more)
- Book title generator (random, not genre-specific)
If you’re an author with an existing email list of readers and fans, this is a great resource to tap into for the brainstorming phase of coming up with a book title. You can broach this subject with your mailing list and find out what this reader group tends to like in their book titles. If you’re at the point where you have a title picked, this is also a great audience to ask for feedback! The emphasis here is on honesty, though. Be sure your audience can provide that without being biased.
Lastly, a great tip for coming up with titles is to simply write down your ideas and step away from them. I’m guessing that you didn’t write your book all in one sitting, so you should apply the same mentality to creating a book title. Give your ideas room to breathe. Once you’ve jotted them down, go for a walk, read other books, or do whatever it takes to renew your creative juices! Then return to your title with a clear head and focus on what stands out.
Choosing a book title based on genre
Say that you’re done brainstorming and are ready to move on to actually deciding on your book title. That’s great! While you’re deciding, try to tie any decisions back to the genre of your book. We’ve found that most successful titles are relevant to the category of the book. We want to clearly show readers what they’re getting into before they even have to open your book up.
If you’re writing a Thriller, you may take a look at the bestsellers in this genre. You’ll notice that many of them have, well, thrilling or exciting language! “Missing and Endangered” comes to mind. You can sort the bestselling Kindle books on the Amazon store by genre (linked here) to get an idea of what language works for others in your genre.
Most writers are familiar with the age-old art of performing a textual analysis. This classic college assignment asks students to interpret texts. If you’re choosing a book title, performing a textual analysis on other titles is a great direction to head in. For example, if I was a Steamy Romance author I may take a look at some current bestsellers and analyze what they have in common:
- Drop Dead Gorgeous
- Flirting with the Rock Star Next Door
- The Art of Falling for You
Note how the language here is flirty and fun. This is pretty typical for Contemporary Romance books, so you wouldn’t want to choose a title that’s, say, dark and serious for one of these books or you can run the risk of alienating your audience.
Let’s use General Nonfiction as another example of ways to find commonalities amongst book titles. Here are some titles from the current bestseller list:
- A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market
- If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood
- Master Your Emotions: A Practical Guide to Overcome Negativity and Better Manage Your Feelings (Mastery Series Book 1)
- Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History
Books in the Nonfiction category typically rely less on fanciful, imaginative language (like Romance books might favor!) and tend to get straight to the point. In the titles above, you can see that each one clearly lays out what readers can expect from the text. These titles also utilize subtitles (the text coming after the colon symbols.)
You’ll never know about the intricacies of book titles in separate genres unless you take a deep dive into them! Hopefully the difference between Romance and Nonfiction titles shows you how much these can vary, and serve as a reminder of the importance of doing a little analysis. Simply writing out a list of bestselling titles can lead you to make easy, quick connections and serve as inspiration for your own work.
Our formula for book title success
Although writing very rarely follows one simple formula for success, we have found that taking a few key steps can set any author up for creating an eye-catching book title. Below, check out our four-step process for writing a book title that is sure to appeal to readers and succinctly summarize your content!
We’ve all heard this acronym before: Keep It Simple, Smarty . When it comes to a title, straight-forward and to the point tends to be more helpful than long and winding. A good rule of thumb is typically that your title should be fewer than five words long. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. Nonfiction titles may be longer by utilizing subtitles.
- Paint a picture
Just like you’ve probably heard a million times about your writing, your book title should paint a picture. Remember to show, not tell. Some of the most famous book titles of all time (Of Mice and Men, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, et.c) keep a succinct message while also utilizing creative and descriptive language. This language should be true to your chosen genre, though, in order to cut down on any potential for reader confusion.
- One of a kind
Before you start to get married to an idea, you’ll want to make sure that your book title doesn’t already exist. Sure, you may love the title East of Eden. Sadly, though, John Steinbeck loved the title first. If you pick a title that already exists this could harm your ability to optimize search engines and appear above other books similar to yours.
- Bonus tip (!!!): Get discovered
Want a hot tip? If you’re publishing through retailers like Amazon, Nook, Google Play, and such, you can use retailer keywords about your genre or price point within your title. Some authors do this to increase the chances they’ll appear in search results. By using subtitles, they can reference the exact subgenre of their book (such as Post-Apocalyptic Sci Fi) or that their book is permafree.
All in all, we’ve found that book titles can greatly aid in the success of a book. You want to make sure your title is drawing in the appropriate audience. In doing so, you’re sure to pique the interest of the right types of readers. Pair a great book title with a professional cover and you’re on the path to success! Let us know your tips and tricks, authors.