I respect your privacy and will not rent, share or sell your personal information.

9 Ways to Avoid Lame Book Titles

Send to Kindle

canstockphoto0028533An ad from my local hardware store featured a party cooler for sale. The cooler was pictured filled with ice and canned soda. 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.

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

If you’re eager to avoid lame book titles, here are some 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 first came out with 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 and Fifty Shades of Grey and an alphabet mystery series, starting with A is for Alibi,  have already been done.

 

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

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.

5. Notice the nickname or short name you’ve given your book while you’re writing it.

One of the actors from the sitcom, That 70′s Show, revealed that this was not the original title, but 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 came up with “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”.
He knew 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 186 Amazon “reviewers” had a lot of fun with this book title.  With the 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?)
  • As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I’m sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing influence and presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships. The long inter-continental voyages that kept my mom and dad up all night with worry. Don’t even get me started on the international protocols when transporting perishable cargo. To think, I was even younger than my kids are now! huge ships are everywhere and it doesn’t help that the tv and movies make huge ships seem glamorous and cool. This book helped me really approach the subject of huge ships with my kids in an honest, open and non judgmental way. Because of the insights this book provided, I can sleep a little better and cope with the reality that I can’t always be there to protect my kids from huge ships, especially as they become adults. I’m confident that my teens, when confronted by a huge ship, are much better prepared to make wiser decisions than I did. At the very least my children certainly know that they can always come to me if they have any concerns, questions or just need my support when it comes to the topic of huge ships.

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 fan
said what we all want to hear from a reader, “There I was at B&N, doing last minute shopping, and the title sucked me in.”

Writing compelling titles for your book is just one part of your job as an author. Most first-timers have trouble with just getting started on the contents.

Question I’ve invented to plug my e-course, Rockin’ My Book.

Is there any way to publish a book without writing one?

Not to my knowledge.

You could hire a ghostwriter, outsource it to an hourly worker in the Phillipines, or dictate your thoughts into a recorder, but someone has to create the content.

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 be let you know your 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.

Did I mention it’s very affordable?

Some treat Rockin’ My Book as a way to to test their readiness by gently sticking one toe in the publishing waters . Others use Rockin’ My Book to finally get the push to get started on their long-neglected dream.

Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Rockin’ My Book helps you begin to relieve that agony. Wherever you are with your writing goals, get the momentum you need to move forward now.

Get the details on this special page I’ve prepared for you at Rockin’ My Book.

Comments

  1. Thank you! I find this useful tips not only for books but also for blogposts. Thanks!
    Victor Björklund recently posted..The beginning of my Lifestyle Business journeyMy Profile

    • Hi Victor,

      You’re most welcome. You’re right that these tips have multiple uses. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.

  2. John Hartig says:

    Flora, Thanks for the tips. You helped me rethink the title for my new conservation book, including keeping it simple and clear, yet drawing a reader’s attention. Several reviewers suggested I come up with a new title and your tips were a big help.

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge