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Killer Book Titles

5 Steps for Writing a Killer Book Title

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but maybe you can by its title. Whatever title you finally choose for your book, it needs to sing out from its place on the shelf at the bookstore or in a long list of books that online customers are browsing. Make it count!

Your book title is the first exposure that your audience has to your life-changing, heartwarming, or problem-solving idea. It’s the front and center advertising that tells potential buyers you have what they are looking for. It’s the attention-grabbing mechanism that draws your reader to notice the treasure that you have labored over so carefully, in the hope that it will touch someone’s life and bless it.

When you begin writing your book, keep a tentative title in mind. Then let the title evolve as you write. I recommend keeping a list of all the titles that are serious contenders until you know for sure, “This is the one.”

Every author needs a killer title (and a great book to back it up), but titles can be one of the hardest things to write. See if these five steps help you.

  1. Write it down. Write or type the premise of your book in 30 words or less. Make the idea stop bouncing around in your mind, and get serious on paper. Think of the aspects of your overall theme that are likely to interest your readers, and if you have them, your agent and publisher. Why would someone want to buy this book instead of the next one that they see?
  1. Browse through the words you have to work with. Reduce the 30 words into a phrase or short sentence that could serve as your title. Choose the best parts of those 30 words, or reorder what you have to be snappier or more focused. Try to develop 2-3 phrases to be titles that suit your book in different ways.
  1. Make it sparkle. Substitute the nouns and verbs in your phrases with better ones that are meaningful, vibrant, inspiring, or intriguing. Spend some time and thought on this process, because it will be worth it. Think, “TITLE!”
  1. Ask yourself some questions. The following questions may help you to know whether your title still needs a little tweaking.
  • If I saw this title, would I spend money for this book?
  • Is the title captivating enough to attract an audience?
  • Is the title self-explanatory? Would a shopper know immediately what this book is about?
  • Does the title capture the core message of my book?
  • Do I want to be known for writing a book by this title?
  1. Evaluate your title.
  • Decide, on a scale of 1-10, how “wow” your title is. Think about it from the perspective of your intended audience. You may want to look at the titles of comparable books, and see how well they sold. Also, if your title is too similar to a competing book, you may want to tweak it again.
  • Get reliable feedback. Ask the readers that you know how they like your title. If they don’t like it, try one of the other titles. Ask your writer friends or professionals how they like your title. As you are receiving feedback, a more perfect title may come to mind.

If you tried the 5 steps, how did they work for you? Share your results with us, or share some more tips on writing a killer book title. Don’t be tempted to give up on the process. An incredible title makes an incredible difference to attract your audience to your book!

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