Friday, 28 September 2012

What's In A Name? Crafting Book Titles That Sell

The title of a book can become a selling tool to help sell a book. It does this by effectively conveying what the book is about or at least give an inkling of what lies between the pages (I have seen vague titles that intrigue me enough to search inside or download a few chapters. Mind you, I don’t do this all the time!). Get it wrong and authors and publishers alike leave prospective buyers scratching their heads as to what the book is about.

More often than not, people may not bother to read the back cover blurb or the contents page. Plus, matters are further complicated in a bookshop where the spine (and not always the cover) is facing outward. This means that even a beautiful cover design may not help. These days, one only gets a few seconds to convince a book reader to part with their hard earned cash.

When I was writing my second book, Overcoming Emotional Baggage: A Woman’s Guide To Living The Abundant Life (ISBN 0-924748-73-7), I contemplated having the words ‘female hybrid’ in the title as it was a major concept in the book. When I conducted a survey of friends and family, many did not know what a hybrid was let alone a female one. Though I went to great lengths to explain it and had chapters in the book about the concept, the fact was it was causing confusion that left many trying to understand what I was trying to say. In the end, I ditched it. However, I'm glad I had the sense to ask around for feedback and take it on board.
So before registering a new book title with Nielsen BookData or get too attached with a particular book title (like many writers/publishers do), may I suggest bouncing the idea around – especially with samples of the market. Social media could be a great tool to do this. Not only does it engage the readers, it builds excitement. You can also run a competition too! Whatever you do, gauge their reactions. Do they understand the words/concept? Does it make sense? Would it help sell the book? A good editor should be able to assist with this too.
Taking it a step further, consider whether the chapter headings could benefit from this too. Recently, I saw a newly published book with really long chapters headings – some which did not make sense nor sell the undoubtedly great content.
My Tip: the more eyes gets to provide feedback (especially experienced ones at that), the better the chances of sales. Plus you don’t do the book an injustice and kill off any chance of sales.

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