Titles are more than just words that appear on the front covers of books. Titles can create “brands” that not only help sell your book, but can change your life by pre-selling future books and positioning you as the obvious expert in your field, opening the doors to endless follow-up marketing opportunities.
I love titles, and I love talking about them and writing about them at my Published & Profitable website--www.publishedandprofitable.com—and in my blogs. The right title is crucial to a nonfiction book’s success—and the author’s future success.
Unfortunately, titles are often taken for granted. Worse, titles are rarely tested. As a result, a lot of helpful and well-written books are doomed to obscurity, while lesser books with better titles continue to sell, year after year.
Change and Nonfiction Book Success
As described in several of the articles, audios, case studies, and videos at Published & Profitable, there are ten key characteristics of effective titles—and books that enjoy perennial sales success typically incorporate many of the characteristics.
Change is one of the most important characteristics. The need for change is one of the major differences between fiction and nonfiction books. Whereas fiction books are purchased for pleasure, nonfiction books are purchased to achieve change. The desired change can be to solve a problem or to achieve a goal. Either way, it’s the reader’s desire for change that triggers the book’s sale, and everything that follows for the author. The implications of the need for titles that promise change involve clarity, specificity, and urgency.
- Clarity. The more obvious the change that the book offers, the more readers will be motivated to buy the book. Clarity involves simplicity; successful titles need no explanation, their promised benefits are obvious at a glance.
- Specificity. Details communicate credibility; details help titles target the intended market and can position a book apart from existing books on the topic.
- Urgency. Specificity can also trigger urgency, encouraging readers to buy the book right now, rather than putting off the purchase until “later.”
- Powerful titles make change obvious. Consider benefit and change-oriented titles like: Brent Sampson’s Sell Your Book on Amazon, Frank Bettger’s classic How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, or my first best-seller, Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing. In each case, there’s no ambiguity about what the book’s about, or the benefits that readers will enjoy.
Example: Case Study in Title Testing
One of my favorite books has always been Carl Sewell and Paul B. Brown’s Customers for Life: How To Turn That One-Time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer. Isn’t that a great title? The benefit is obvious.
However, as co-author Paul B. Brown revealed in an exclusive Published & Profitable interview, that wasn’t the book’s original title! The book’s original title, one that the co-authors and the book’s editor liked, was completely different. The only people who didn’t like the title were members of a focus group composed of business book buyers who were given an advance copy of the book. They loved the contents, but wouldn’t have purchased the book with the original title. Several members of the focus group not only suggested the title be changed, they actually suggested the “customers for life” concept!
Today, of course, with the Internet, it’s easier than ever to test your book’s title before it’s too late. There are numerous low-cost techniques authors can use to ensure that their enthusiasm for their book’s title is shared with prospective readers.
To Learn More about Titles
To learn more about the twelve characteristics of choosing the right title for your book, visit www.publishedandprofitable.com and download my free Write Your Way to Success report describing a 4-step action plan. You’ll also get weekly tips and newsletters about planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from your book.
By signing up for my newsletter, you’ll also be invited to free teleseminars and webinars held throughout the year. Listen on the phone and watch how titles are chosen and topics researched on the screen of your computer in real time!
Roger C. Parker is the 32-Million Dollar Author. He’s written 38 books that have sold over 1.6 million copies around the world. He created his Published & Profitable membership site, to share what he’s learned about writing and publishing—and to help new authors avoid some of the mistakes he’s made, and seen others make. Published and Profitable contains hundreds of articles, audios, assessments, case studies, interviews, templates, videos, and worksheets to help members plan, write, promote, and profit from a nonfiction book.