- Keep it concise
- Appeal to your target audience
- Make it easy to remember
- Create something original and intriguing
- Note down ideas as you write
- Give your book a thorough read
- Recruit friends for brainstorming sessions
- Browse similar genres
- Read it out loud
- Try out some book title generator tools
- Identify the problem your book will solve
- Include your subject in the title
While it may feel like a simple few words, the title of your book is what gives it the best chance of being read. It is the first thing that your potential audience will read before they even open the cover. It is also what can persuade an editor to read your manuscript and publish your work.
In most cases, authors start with what is called a “working title”—a temporary title that is used until the book is complete. Don’t stress out if your working title isn’t perfect. It’s not permanent and will only be seen by you and a select few people that you share it with.
Here are 12 tips to help you generate new book title ideas. Pay special attention to the first 4, since these are key characteristics of a good book title. Then work your work down the list to get your creativity flowing.
1. Keep it concise
Keep your book title as concise as possible. A good rule of thumb is to keep your title between 3-5 words. Long book titles are difficult to remember and don’t stand out to readers as much as short titles do. If you feel like you can’t get your complete message across in just a few words, consider adding a subtitle as well. One famous example is “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley.
2. Appeal to your target audience
Always keep your audience in mind. You are writing for a specific group. For example, writing a science fiction story will appeal to a different group than a romance novel. If your story is an international thriller or takes place in another country, play around with some non-English titles.
3. Make it easy to remember
Your book title should be easy to remember. Potential book titles can include the name of the main character, your favorite line in the book, the setting of the book (where it takes place), or the theme of the book.
A simple, yet memorable title will also help when it is being passed on by word of mouth, or when someone goes to buy it. The more complicated the title, the easier it will be to forget or confuse with another book. Be sure to include keywords in the book title that describe the most important character, place, image, or idea of your story.
4. Create something original and intriguing
A good book title needs to be as original as possible. Your book’s title has to compete with hundreds, if not thousands, of other similar novels. You want a title that will stand out from the crowd, so you may have to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to try a title in the form of a question, a command, or even a list.
Think of your book title as an invitation: it should give a hint of what the reader can expect from your story without giving too much away. Leaving something to the imagination is what will motivate people to buy your book.
5. Note down ideas as you write
Some writers get hung up on the idea that they need to come up with the perfect book title before they start to write their book. That is absolutely not the case (in fact, many great books may never have been written if authors were limited to that line of thinking).
You will find that as you dig in and start writing your story, ideas for titles will naturally come to you. Keep a running list as you go. Don’t feel like you have to edit yourself either. Write everything down, even the titles that may feel ridiculous at the time. You never know what will stick.
6. Give your book a thorough read
Once your book is finished, give it a thorough read and think about what it is trying to say. Take notes as you go in case you come across a descriptive phrase, image, or piece of dialogue that perfectly captures the theme of the book.
Then brainstorm book titles that are related to its core message. Consider what inspired you to write the book, the emotions that you felt during the writing process and how you felt after reading it. Is it a story of triumph, mystery, joy, fear, or love? Think about the key takeaways a reader will have and try to find a title that matches the overall mood.
7. Recruit friends for brainstorming sessions
We all have that friend who is incredibly creative and good with words. Recruit them for a brainstorming session. You may want to have them read a few chapters of your book first or summarize the story and characters to give them some context. Then sit down and have some fun coming up with different book titles. You’ll be surprised how far you will get when someone else helps with the process.
8. Browse similar genres
Poetry books are typically going to have different kinds of titles than autobiographies or other works of nonfiction, browse book titles in similar genres to gain inspiration and ideas. Notice if there are particular trends or styles that authors follow in naming their books. Think about what appeals to you in certain titles, and brainstorm ideas for your book with similar characteristics.
You can also do an internet search for “best-selling mystery novels” or “nonfiction best-sellers” and see if these popular books have something in common. Remember, you don’t want to copy an existing title, but something could spark an idea that leads to you creating your own.
9. Read it out loud
When you have your list narrowed down to your top book title contenders, read each one out loud to see how it sounds. Is it easy to pronounce? Does it have a good flow? If it doesn’t seem to flow or roll off the tongue, then it probably isn’t the best title on your list.
Having a hard time letting go of a title even though it’s a mouthful? See if you can shorten the phrase, or keep one or two keywords and combine them in a different way. Creating a strong title often involves trial and error, so play around until it feels right to you.
10. Try out some book title generator tools
When you’re feeling stuck, sometimes it can help to get outside your head and let a book title generator do the work for you. Think of it like doing a short exercise that instantly shakes things up and helps break you out of your writing habits. Don’t be surprised if some of the options fall flat, sound nonsensical, or are just plain unappealing. The goal is simply to give you wide range of options and potentially spark new inspiration.
Here are some of the top book title generators, by genre:
11. Identify the problem your book will solve
Many readers like to know what they’re getting into when they pick up a new book. That’s especially going to be true if it falls into a nonfiction category that is primarily educational or instructional, like self-help, personal finance, home improvement, cooking and nutrition, or hobbies and crafts. The title of your book should clearly state what skill you are teaching or how it can help the reader solve a particular problem. The more straightforward the name, the more likely it is that your ideal readers will find it.
12. Include your subject in the title
This is probably a no-brainer for nonfiction books, how-to guides, and biographies but it’s still worth mentioning. If you’re writing a book on knitting techniques, be sure the word “knit” or “knitting” appear in the title. In some cases, it may help to add a subtitle. That can give you a bit more flexibility, so the full name can be clever and catchy, while still including essential keywords and descriptive terms: Smart Stitch: A Beginner’s Guide to Knitting.
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