How to come up with a good book title: 14 tips

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 it can help with finding an agent and a traditional publisher.

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 14 tips to help you generate new book title ideas. Pay special attention to the first five¬, 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.

Attributes of a good book title

Titles should be concise but convey the general goal of your book. It’s arguably more difficult to write concise words than it is to explain your thoughts in several words. Coming up with a good book title is one of the most difficult components in writing a novel.

Here are a few attributes of a good book title:

  • Attention grabbing: It must grab a reader’s attention but without making false promises or containing fluff.
  • Memorable: You want a title that a reader will walk away remembering it so that they can tell their friends and family about your title.
  • Informative: Don’t use a title that has nothing to do with the content of the book just to “trick” readers into buying it.
  • Easy to say: Memorable titles are easy to repeat and use a vocabulary that engages readers without confusing them.
  • Not embarrassing: Even in more racy novels, the titles should not use words that would embarrass a reader should they decide to mention the book to friends and family.

2. 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 after a customer reads your book content, or when someone goes to find the title in the bookstore 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.

Make a list of ideas for your book title

3. Create something original and intriguing

A good book title needs to be as original as possible. Your book’s title must 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 and get more creative than currently published authors. 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 provide the reader with a hint of what can be expected from your story without giving too much away. Leaving something to the imagination is what will motivate people to buy your book. A good title along with great illustrations and book cover art can sell a browsing buyer in a bookstore.

Book title ideas

Even though you know the best attributes, coming up with a title is still difficult Your book title should convey ideas from the book but stay catchy so that readers remember it. Take, for instance, a book about cooking and recipes. It’s likely that the book title “How to Cook” is taken and doesn’t grab readers.

A few alternative ideas could be:

  • Cooking Made Easy
  • The Best Way to Cook Like a Chef
  • 5 Steps to Amazing Food
  • Chef Advice 101
  • The Perfect Chef: Easy Recipes for Delicious Food

The above titles are just book title ideas and examples, but they encapsulate a good working title. These titles are short and concise, but they also convey the concept and content within the book. They are memorable, and they are easy to read for the average reader.

4. 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. For non-fiction stories, your book title should describe the content without sounding too sensational.

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). Many editors suggest writing the title last so that authors don’t feel that they need to stick to a specific storyline. They suggest that writing the story first provides authors with more freedom to take the story in any direction, and then the title can be written to wrap up the content in a few concise words.

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 generators 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:

Nonfiction: Self-PublishingPortentCopywriting Course

Fiction: Writing ExercisesStory ToolzAdazing

Science Fiction & Fantasy: Fantasy LiteraturePulp Sci-Fi Title-o-TronUK Rifter

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.

Before you use any images or content from others, check for any copyrights or trademarks. There is a fine line between “fair use” and copyright infringement, so you should ensure that you have permission to use anyone else’s content, images, or videos. It’s a common misconception that anything published on the internet can be used, but much of what is published on the internet is copyrighted. Any logos could be trademarked, which could land you into legal issues.

14. Include keywords for search engines for non-fiction books

Search engines answer queries for users, and non-fiction books often discuss topics of interest. These topics could be anything of interest to a general audience or very niche content. If you decide to self-publish or market your book, you should choose a title that has keywords in it. The title should still make sense and be memorable without being too sensational, but it should match keywords search engine users would enter to find information about the book’s topic.

Google isn’t the only target search engine. Many of your potential sales will come from Amazon. Amazon hosts its own search engine where readers enter keywords to find non-fiction books of interest. Keywords used specifically for Amazon search results are also a useful marketing strategy.

Popularity is important for book sales. If no one is searching for your book’s topic, then it’s unlikely that you will get any readers. You need a title that people want to read. It doesn’t need to be the most popular topic, but it must have an audience looking for more information. Your book must satisfy a popular search to ensure future book sales. So, do a little research on Google and Amazon to see what is ranking to get ideas for your own book title.

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