When you visit bookstores the first thing that causes you to pick up a book is its title. A really good title describes what the book is about. It makes readers want to pick it up, browse through it, and hopefully purchase it. Your book should not have the same title as your dissertation. Your book is for a different audience.
In choosing a title for your book you should think of a title and subtitle. They are the headlines for your book. They advertise to the world what your book is about. So choose your title wisely. Make your title clear. And make it grab the interest of readers.
Choosing a strong title will require thought. Don’t settle on the first title that pops into your head. You want your title crisp and original. Don’t decide in haste. Although you may come back to your original title, it pays to investigate other possible titles for your book. This will ensure that you can’t come up with anything stronger.
Let’s say you thought of a title 6 months ago when your book was only an idea in your mind. Since then you have decided on a central idea for your book, you have talked to your colleagues about your book idea, you have done additional research on your topic, and now you are ready to write your book. The title you thought of six months ago could be wrong for the book you have now decided to write. If you absolutely, positively love this title, it will be hard for you to let it go. Therefore, you will try to put something in your book to justify the title when it doesn’t belong. Or you will just go with the title and forget about having material to support the title in your book. In all probability your title will get changed before publication by your publishing company.
Before you settle on one working title for your book, think of a minimum of ten possible titles. Write them down. As you think about these titles, decide which best describes your book.
Your title has to do a variety of things. It has to intrigue agents, if you go this route. It must convince publishers that your book should be added to their lists. It has to make potential readers want to pick up your book and read it once it is on the market.
A strong title reflects what your book is about. Plus it will keep you focused as you work on your book. It will carry you through the writing of your book.
As you consider titles, choose one that stands out in the sea of books. And make it understandable to your readers. If you are writing for your colleagues, you title will be more formal but it should still spark interest in your work.
Don’t forget the subtitle. A strong title and a strong subtitle go hand in hand. Your subtitle should connect to your title. Both communicate something about your book.
Spend quality time on your subtitle. Come up with at least ten different subtitles. If there is any confusion in what your book is about when someone reads the title, the subtitle erases that confusion. It clarifies your book’s message.
Listed below are 6 examples of effective titles and subtitles:
Title: The Politics of Jesus
Subtitle: Rediscovering The True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted
Title: The Great Black Jockeys
Subtitle: The Lives And Times Of The Men Who Dominated America’s First National Sport
Title: The 8th Habit
Subtitle: From Effectiveness To Greatness
Title: The Good Life
Subtitle: Truths That Last In Times Of Need
Title: The End Of Education
Subtitle: Redefining The Value Of School
Title: Inside City Schools
Subtitle: Investigating Literacy In Multicultural Classrooms
As you can see by these examples, the title and subtitle complement each other, which is why you should spend valuable time thinking about both.
Consider the 10 titles and subtitles you have developed. Take several days and decide which works best for your book using the criteria listed above. Your hard work will produce two strong descriptions of your book that will be irresistible to readers.
Margaree Mitchell loves teaching scholars how to expand their expertise through the written word. She is the author of the upcoming DISSERTATION INTO BOOK CHECKLIST.