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9 Ways to Avoid Creating Lame Book Titles

canstockphoto0028533An ad from my local hardware store featured a party cooler for sale. The cooler was pictured filled with ice and canned soda, but printed in parentheses was “Sodas and ice not included.”

Most of us would realize that the ice and soda were intended as a suggested use. This disclaimer was necessary, however, for those dodo heads who would insist that the picture misled them to believe the ice and soda were included.

Just as clearly stating what is being offered is critical in advertising, so is it important in your book title.

Your book title is a billboard, a promise, an agreement to deliver certain content.

[tweet_dis]A book cover may draw the reader’s attention, but it’s the title that gets him to venture inside.[/tweet_dis]

If you’re eager to avoid lame book titles, here are some 9 tips that have worked for others.

1. Create one sentence that boldly sums up the contents or main point of your book.

Within that sentence are the keywords that should be in your title or it may be your full title.

When Robert Kiyosaki wrote his book If You Want To Be Rich and Happy, Don’t Go To School, a publisher suggested he change his title to The Economics of Education. I’m glad he didn’t listen.

2. While titles cannot be copyrighted, steer clear of emulating popular titles.

Chicken Soup for the Soul, Fifty Shades of Grey, and an alphabet mystery series starting with A is for Alibi, have already been done, for example.

3. Settle on a working title while you’re writing your book.

The perfect title may not be apparent at the start. By the time you finish your book, however, the right title will likely emerge.

4. Reflect the tone of your message in the title.

If you’re writing a how-to book, you don’t want your title to mislead your readers into thinking it’s a sizzling romantic novel. It may result in sales, but readers will be disappointed and unfulfilled. Readers who feel betrayed can leave nasty reviews.

5. Notice the nickname or short name you gave your book while you were writing it.

One of the actors from the sitcom, That 70′s Show, revealed that this was not the original title. It was the nickname the cast gave it during rehearsals. By the time it was ready for launch, the producers decided that the nickname was the right name for the show.

6. Listen to how you respond to questions about your book when you are speaking to groups or your accountability partner.

In an effort to explain the differences in men and women during one of his live presentations, John Gray responded with “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”.

Bingo! He had found the right title for his book on relationships.

7. Go for a simple and clear title rather than fail at being clever.

  • The “how to” title is still the most popular because it appeals to our never-ending quest for doing things, taking action, and making improvements.
  • “Murder at the [location]” will still grab mystery lovers.
  • The [odd number] Ways to [do or accomplish something that we want] is irresistible with its promise of actionable steps.

8. Give your book a subtitle, if necessary for clarity.

One book that could have benefitted from a subtitle is How to Avoid Huge Ships by John W. Trimmer.

When Captain Trimmer got tired of running into small boats, he wrote this serious book directed at small boat owners/operators to help them avoid getting into the pathways of big boats which can not always see much less miss hitting them. Unfortunately, many of the 1,226 Amazon reviewers had a lot of fun with this book title. With the original price tag of $75, many of the reviewers may not have actually bought the book, but they couldn’t resist taking aim at that title.

Here are some of the reviews of Trimmer’s book that made me laugh out loud.

  • Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.
  • Huge ships have been the bane of my life, so I was very excited when I bought this book. However, Captain Trimmer does not provide the helpful and insightful advice that I had hoped for and I did not feel that this book had any noticeable effect. If anything, I now encounter more huge ships than ever! Would not recommend.
  • After reading this book, I relized [sic] exactly what I was doing wrong everytime I was run over by bardges [sic] on the mighty Mississippi. I always played dead and hoped the boats would go away, like I was taught by a book I read, “How To Survive Bear Attacks.” I guess I thought the lessons taught by that book applied to everything life, but it clearly meant just bears. Now I am surviving the waterways better than a BP oil rig.
  • I give this book five stars because it is by far the best treatise to date regarding the avoidance of huge ships. BUT C’MON, PEOPLE! Did you learn nothing in the sixties? Avoiding huge ships won’t solve the problem. Separate but equal waterways only drives us further apart. It is the lack of understanding between the huge and non-huge vessel communities that lead to well-intentioned but misguided tomes such as this. We must begin a dialogue with our huge brethren. Remember–we are all floating on the same ocean. I have a dream… that one day ALL vessels will be judged not by their tonnage, but by the content of their cargo. Next time a huge vessel approaches, just ask yourself “WWPD?” (What would Popeye do?)
  • WHY NO KINDLE EDITION?????? 
    Given that there is a huge ship bearing down on me RIGHT NOW I am extremely disappointed that I cannot get inst

9. Be outrageous with a risky, even risque title.

Forget about being modest or politically correct when you want to grab your reader by the collar.

  • Shit My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern–a coming-of-age memoir wrapped about his father’s profane, profound and funny sayings
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn–a moving memoir about the troublesome relationship between Nick and his father
  • Assholes Finish First by Tucker Max–a funny book about Tucker’s misadventures. Some criticized it for being too vulgar, but one that didn’t deter its popularity.

Writing a compelling title for your book is an important part of your job as an author.

Photo courtesy of canstockphoto.com

Most first-timers have trouble with just getting started on the contents, much less
finding the right title. If your dream of writing a book has been stalled by fear or uncertainty then Rockin’ My Book is for you. I’ve made it easy for you to get started by creating it as 4-week e-course. Once you sign up you receive one email lesson per week with encouragement, steps to take, examples, suggested activities, and an opportunity to get feedback from me if you wish. I’m eager to share your publishing options and answer the many questions all writers have. Work on your own time and at your own pace in the comfort of your home or office.
Check it out at Rockin’ My Book.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Maya Angelou

Rockin’ My Book helps you begin to relieve that agony. Get the start and momentum to move forward with writing your book now.

How to Conquer Your Fear of Screwing Up the Book You Want to Write, Part 2

conquerfear2 copy(This is the second in a series. Check out Part 1 here.)

So, let me guess.

You’re reading this because you want to write your book, but you are paralyzed with the fear that you’ll screw it up.

As one radio psychologist often said to her callers, “Somebody has to tell you and it might as well be me.”

YOU WILL SCREW UP YOUR BOOK.

. . . the first draft of your book, that is.

Come on. Do you really think Stephen King rolls out a compelling novel from beginning to end in one fell swoop? Every word in place, every scene painted in vivid colors?

Grow up! Of course not.

To conquer your fear of screwing up the book you want to write, you must be willing to do the exact thing you fear: screw up.

As soon as you’re willing to be imperfect and turn out the inevitable first shitty draft, you’ll be on your way.

It’s not your fault that you’re stuck by this “perfection affliction.” If you’re like most of us, you were raised by well-meaning adults who prodded you to ponder, plan and hesitate to take action until everything was in place.

This strategy may have a good use in some cases, but when it comes to writing your book it’s not only a detriment, it’s a dream killer.

In the first part of this series I urged you to conquer your fear of screwing up your book by forgetting about being original.  Now  I’m asking you to do something else.

Give up on perfection

1. Be willing to write consistently without any expectation that it’ll be great.

Published writers who make a living from their work create a schedule and stick to it.  Some have a daily word count goal, others have a time goal. Whatever the case, they turn out the writing knowing that it’s not in finished form.

Like a furniture maker who starts knows that there will be much cutting, assembling and glueing before the finishing stage, so must you see your book as a project that will be rough first and refined and polished later.

2. Be willing to look foolish and fail in front of the world.

Olympic athletes don’t set out to fail. They spend years of physical and mental preparation, training for that one day. On competition day, they get one jump, one dive, or one toss on a worldwide stage where they emerge victorious or fall short of winning the coveted awards or breaking a record.

To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong. ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

Even after your book is finished and polished to its best, you will receive mixed reviews of it.

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected over 130 times as Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield were cautioned that a self-help book like theirs couldn’t sell.
  • Stephen King’s high school teacher admonished him for wasting his talent on the horror genre.
  • Seth Godin, author and marketing guru, recently shared that a high school teacher wrote in his yearbook that he would never amount to anything.

3. Embrace your imperfection

Fred Astaire, regarded as the greatest musical dancer of all time, received the following comment from a studio executive after a screen test early in this career: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”

Although Astaire was known for relentless practice in an effort to perfect his performances, when asked about his style he said if you make the same mistake enough times it becomes your style.

Perfection is a mind set that masks insecurity and blinds you to the wonder and awe that emerges from the early efforts at writing your book.  If you insist that your prose be perfect right out the gate, you set the bar so high that you rob yourself of the necessary steps that strengthen your writing skills.

Striving for perfection is very different from insisting on it.  When you embrace your imperfection, you accept your humanness.

When Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human; to forgive, divine” he was urging us to forgive others. I ask you to also forgive yourself for your imperfections.

Draw comfort from the fact that the biggest part of writing a book is the rewriting. When you, your editor, copyeditor and proofreader all take their turns at massaging your manuscript, your finished book will be superior to its rough draft, but never perfect.

Take comfort from Ernest Hemingway’s words

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Have you been blocked by the quest for perfection? How did you get past it?

If you’re ready to conquer your fear of screwing up the book you want to write, let me be your companion on your writing  journey. Tackle the biggest hurdle to writing your book: getting started.

Start now while it’s on your mind with my e-course, Rockin’ My Book. In this affordable 4-week course you receive in your emailbox one lesson per week for four weeks with instructions, homework and encouragement. Feel the joy of being a published author. Enroll in this on-demand course.
The course starts as soon as you register.

How to Conquer Your Fear of Screwing Up the Book You Want to Write, Part I

conquerfear copy

When you start to write your book, you will feel some fear. Guaranteed.

We all do. It goes with the writing process.

You worry about adding to the trite prose that already clutters the market, and becoming the victim of searing criticism in the process.

All this worry paralyzes you, rendering you too scared to get started or get past the inevitable writer’s block.

You may even engage in the fruitless task of editing as you write. This is like running on a treadmill. You’re burning energy but not really going anywhere.

We will cover some of the ways to conquer this fear in this series.  (See Part 2 here.)

Before we start. . .

Consider writing a nonfiction book

  • They are easier to write.
  • They are easier to sell.
  • Customers are already looking for the solutions in your nonfiction book.
  • You are already an expert in something that could become a nonfiction book (more on that later.)

Don’t let me discourage you from writing your novel if that’s your passion and goal right now. It’s just that fiction takes most authors longer to create and without established credibility, harder to sell.

Good news: you don’t have to choose. You can write both nonfiction and fiction, as more and more authors are doing.

Now that I’ve pushed you to write nonfiction, let’s talk about the first way to conquer that gripping fear that you’ll screw up your book.

Forget about being original

It’s unlikely that you can write on a topic no one has covered in some way, especially in nonfiction. Even if you did, you have no guarantee that anyone would want to read it.

Instead think about how you can write a new twist on a topic that you and other people are interested in.

The most popular nonfiction topics are

  • dieting/weight loss
  • relationships
  • self-help/personal growth/happiness
  • money/finances
  • dating/sex
  • healthy cooking
  • spiritual/inspiration
  • career/leadership
  • parenting

Find a way to tell us something new or in a different way on one of these topics, and you’ll have the potential to write a bestseller.

Let me give you an example.

A quick search on Amazon indicates that as of the day I’m writing this post the category of dieting/weight loss has 11,487 books, 2,135 Kindle books and over 160 products that are tagged “dieting.”

In spite of this mountain of dieting advice/tips/products, someone is creating another book on dieting right now.  If this upcoming author (maybe you) can tell us a healthy way we can eat what we want, skip exercise and keep our ideal weight, her book will be bestseller overnight.

Put a new twist on favorite topics

When you see new books emerge that give solutions in a new way, you may think, “I could have done that!” You’re right. You could have. You just have to turn your thinking cap at a different angle like these authors did.

  • True stories of inspiration, love and courage are not new. But when Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen compiled stories like these, they enjoyed impressive sales of Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Advice about parenting and pregnancy has been around for many decades. When my kids were born, Dr. Spock was the go-to parenting expert who turned childrearing advice on its head.When the mother-daughters team of Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff and Sandee Hathaway wrote What to Expect When You’re Expecting, their book gave us a fascinating new guide to pregnancy and created a phenomenal self-publishing success story (since the first one of what became a serious was self-published.)
  • From the beginning of history people have sought answers from God. When a former Oregon radio talk show host Neale Walsch wrote the responses he was hearing, Conversations with God won him a 7-figure advance from Putnam-Berkley.

    Repurpose your own content

    You must not plagiarize anyone, even yourself. But there’s nothing wrong with breathing new life into your already-produced content, especially your blog.

    Before it was a trend, for example, I gathered the posts from my blog, Color Your Life Happy, and wove them together with results of happiness research, ancient wisdom and added activities and cartoons. The result was my book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve available in print and Kindle versions.

    This is a popular approach, and one I recommend in an e-course I created to help you get over your fear of screwing up your book so you can get started.

If you’re ready to conquer your fear of writing your book, I’m ready to hold your hand in my 4-week e-course, Rockin’ My Book. It’s an on-demand course, meaning you start when you register. Because it’s an e-course you complete it at your convenience. What makes it stand out from many e-courses is that you will get feedback from me when complete the suggested tasks.

I’d love to have you learn about Rockin’ My Book here and then tell me what you’ve done to conquer your fear of writing your book (or even blog posts, articles, etc.) in the comments.

 

Get Dan Poynter’s New Book on Writing, Free July 13 and 14–Hurry!

“Forget what you heard about book writing, publishing and promoting; the model just changed–for the better! Now you may print shorter runs at prices that make sense, publish your “books” in other (electronic) ways, sell them automatically and promote them for practically nothing. You will discover how to wring maximum value out of your work. This is an exciting time to be a writer.”

This is how Dan Poynter begins Writing Your Book: Cashing in on Publishing, Faster, Easier, & Cheaper, his 54-page ebook loaded with tips, steps and advice based on decades of experience and success. This Kindle version is free today, July 13 through July 14 until midnight.

You do not have to own a Kindle in order to take advantage of this. Amazon makes Kindle reader apps available free for your computer or mobile devices. Grab yours at Kindle Reader.

Dan is the authority on self-publishing and author of 130 books.

Always keeping up with changing technology, Dan admits that he is testing Kindle Direct Publishing Select Freebie Day. He says,

You can help me gain experience, figures, and even some money, by downloading this free book on writing books.
The above is the pitch I am testing.

He begins his book stressing the importance of researching your topic for comparable books, readers’ reviews to ensure that there is a market for your book. From there, he goes on to tell you how to

  • Build your book using the world’s largest library that’s on your desk, the Web.
  • Get your book professionally edited and reviewed
  • Register your copyright
  • Properly use quotations and other information from others
  • Create and publish ebooks as well as print books
  • Convert and post your ebook
  • Collaborate with a colleague, editor or ghostwriter
  • Package, publish and promoting your book

The greatest benefit of Dan’s book is learning that you don’t have to choose between self-publishing and traditional publishing or ebooks v.s. print books. You can do all of these if you wish. He tells you how to do so profitably.

Any time Friday or Saturday, log on to
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or Copy\Paste:
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New Authors Have a Reason to Smile

Dellena Ludwig shows off her new book, “Where Did Dinosaurs Come From? ” In her book, children will learn just that! A poetic, biblical look at the history of dinosaurs is sure to teach you but also entertain. You’ll laugh and smile as you learn the important history of the origin of dinosaurs and where they are now.

Dellena is putting the finishing touches on her book release party slated for this upcoming weekend.


Dwayne Carl kicked off the first signing of his memoir,” Out of My Second Closet: I Have AIDS Get Ova It,” last week at the Gay Pride Parade and Festival in Long Beach, CA. Dwayne’s book is a compelling journey of one man’s plight from a deadly illness, to a life of prejudices, inequality, stigmas, the world’s misunderstanding the pain of a person living with the aids diagnosis.


Both of these authors have a reason to smile because they followed a dream of sharing their compelling stories when most aspiring authors never do. It is believed that 4 out of 5 people want to write a book but most never do. That puts Dellena and Dwayne in rare company, along with my other successful clients.  By the way, their books are available on Amazon.com and from other major booksellers.

How about you? Are you ready to experience the smile that only holding your new book in your hands can bring on? It’s not magic. It requires taking the first step and following through with determination and courage.

If you are ready to go, I’d love to be your travelling companion to make your writing journey a fun trip with a soft landing. Send me an email at flora@florabrown.com with “Ready” in the subject line along with your phone number and best time to call. I will call you at your next availability.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.