Last week, I shared why and how writing and publishing a book will help you build your business. We got feedback from some members sharing that they were either currently working on a book or planning to re-launch their current book. So I thought I’d share some tips this week for choosing a winning book title.
To clarify, we’re not talking here about fiction books, poetry books, or other types of writing. We’re focusing strictly on the types of books that will help you build your business which are typically non-fiction, self-help, memoir, etc., or some combination of these.
Since your primary reason for writing and publishing a book is to help you build your business, think of your book as a client attraction tool. Knowing your primary goal for writing the book will go a long way towards helping you write the right kind of book for your audience.
So here are eight tips for choosing a winning book title:
1. Focus on Your Ideal Client
Remember, you are writing this book for them. Hopefully, you know exactly who your ideal client is. (If not, check out our article here on how to choose a successful, in-demand niche.) Being clear on this will make it easy to both write the right kind of book for them and for them to recognize that your book is the one they should read.
2. Solve their Problem(s)
Nearly any and all products and services solve a problem. What are the biggest, most difficult problems your ideal clients face? How does your product or service solve them? What do they need to know, both about the subject or topic itself and how your business helps solve their problems?
A word of warning: don’t get too caught up in the technical details of your modality and what you do. Your book title must focus on the solution, the end result your readers will gain by reading your book. Your book (and your products and services) are merely the means to an end.
If you’re struggling with writing your book or choosing a book title, go back to who your ideal client is and what their problems are. It always brings you back to what you need to focus on and provides so much clarity.
3. Tell Them “How To…”
There are many, many different types of books and titles to choose from. One of the easiest books to write is a “how-to” book because it’s nothing more than a formula.
Publishing and book sales history tell us that the how-to category is one of the most reliable categories. They’re popular and steady sellers. So if you’re feeling a bit stuck for a book title or type of book to write, consider writing a how-to book.
4. Promise a Solution or Result
You know what their hot buttons and pain points are. So now your job is to give them a solution or result.
“How to Fit into Your Skinny Jeans in 30 Days or Less” is a great title because it’s specific and promises an end result. A variation of the how-to format is “The XYZ Guide to…” For example, “The Working Woman’s Guide to Fitting Into Your Skinny Jeans in 30 Days or Less” is even better because it clearly telegraphs exactly who the book is for.
I see a lot of titles for teleseminars or webinars similar to “The Ultimate Cleanse and Detox – Juice Feast.” Yes, this is a real title for a real event! Unfortunately, the creators just don’t know any better. Unless their audience is already aware of and sold on the benefits of a juice cleanse, it means nothing.
The cold hard truth is that no one cares about a juice cleanse (or your products or services) until they know what it can do for them. Your title must be benefit-driven and specific.
The creator of this event would do much better to title their event “How to Fast Track Your Weight Loss Plan” or “How to Finally Lose Those Stubborn Pounds After Everything Else Has Failed.” They can then talk about how flushing your system of toxins (with a juice cleanse, ahem) can speed up weight loss.
No one buys a drill at the hardware store. They’re buying the hole they need. The drill is merely the thing they need to make the hole.
Fast weight loss is the promise. The juice cleanse is only the means to the end.
5. Be Clear and Concise
Book titles are like telegram messages. You have a very limited amount of words and space to convey what your book is about, who it’s for and why someone should read it. It’s crucial to be as clear and concise as possible.
Good book titles typically have a brief main title and often a longer subtitle which expands on and explains the main title. Remember that in catalog listings, in advertising, the library, etc. there’s not much space. Your main book title needs to be as clear and as concise as possible.
My own book “Boost Business Online: How to Attract More Clients Through E-mail and the Internet” is a good example. The main title “Boost Business Online” is simply a shortened how-to title. (In fact, I lopped off the how-to part altogether, but the intent is clear.) However, the promised solution is very clear and specific.
The subtitle simply expands on and explains the main title. The goal is to make the main title as self-explanatory as possible, but often, your main title may not be very clear without the subtitle. So don’t hesitate to include a subtitle if necessary.
6. Be Specific
It’s extremely important to be as specific as possible. Long-winded, esoteric titles simply won’t draw in your intended audience or tell them why they should read your book.
A vague title like “How to Lose Weight” might seem promising, but it falls flat because it’s just way too general. You’ll need to niche down further to give it more impact. Consider who it’s for, what problem your book solves, how long will it take, what specific results can your readers expect, etc.
“Flagging” your intended audience (“The Working Woman’s Guide to…”), using numbers (“10 Tips for..” or “…in 30 Days”, etc.) and promising specific end results (“…Fit Into Your Skinny Jeans…”) will all give your book title a lot more impact.
Which book would YOU buy: “How to Lose Weight” or “How to Fit Into Your Skinny Jeans in 30 Days or Less”?
7. Avoid Jargon
You may have studied for years and received advanced degrees and certifications. You are the expert. But your reader and client is not.
The rule of thumb in writing is to write a sixth or eighth grade level. They must be able to understand (in 5-15 seconds) what your book is about and why they should read it. Consider similar books in your category. Notice how they’re all written in simple language even an eighth grader can understand.
8. Check Out the Competition
If you’re stuck and need ideas, check out the competition. Even if you’re not stuck, it’s a good idea to head over to Amazon.com and take a look at some of the popular and best-selling books in your category.
Where does your book fit in? Is there a hole or even a crack that’s not being filled that your book will fill? How can you say it differently? What specific audience or angle are the current books missing?
Once you have an idea for a book, it’s always a good idea to check out the other books in your category before writing even a word of notes. This research will let you know if your subject or angle has already been done to death. Your research can bring new ideas and a fresh perspective.
I hope you find this helpful. Please let us know what you think by commenting on the end of this article!
Supporting you for your success,
Founder & CEO