collage of paper headlines about the world economy

Your book’s title is probably the single most important thing to consider at the initial ideas stage. Some publishers may want to change it, but your title (even when pitching to publishers) says a lot about you, your position and your book’s chances. Never underestimate the power of a good title.

Here are eight things to consider while creating your winning book title:

  1. A good title is like a good headline, so model newspapers and magazines
  2. Your title’s number one job is to make people want to open the book
  3. Make your title dramatic and use powerful, active and emotive words
  4. Make a big promise or say something shocking or provocative
  5. Ask a leading question to make prospective readers curious
  6. Pose a conundrum that will engage your audience
  7. If you have a clever, witty or one-word main title then be sure your sub-title explains your book’s big promise
  8. Don’t try to be clever if a more obvious title is stronger

Louise Walker chose From The Ground Up as the title of her book on marketing by going through a rigorous process:

‘Choosing the title was quite a long process – I had a brainstorm session and just dumped everything I could think of onto paper. I followed the guidance of keeping it short and punchy, went through all the titles I haGood Raw Food Recipesd thought of and sense-checked that they applied to my book – I wanted something that had a relevance to the content.

‘I narrowed the title choices down and then got some feedback from clients and peers. I also looked at other books in the same sector of the marketplace to check that the title had not been used, and also to see what others were using.

‘I made the final decision based on these criteria and then wrote the sub-heading – Making marketing work throughout your business – to give a brief overview of the subject matter in the book.’

Judy Barber, for a very different kind of business or self-help book, looked at each word in detail for the title and subtitle of her raw food recipes:

‘Good Raw Food Recipes popped up in a mastermind group and is perfect because it’s easy for people to find on search engines. It fits with the title of my first book, Good Question! The Art of Asking Questions to Bring About Positive Change. The subtitle, Delicious Raw and Living Food for Energy and Wellness starts with the word “Delicious” to engage taste buds. “Raw and Living” engages those already in the know as well as those discovering an interest. “Energy and Wellness” tell the benefits and position me within my niche by declaring my focus.’

Twenty words that add power to any book title

  1. How To
  2. Secrets of
  3. Stop
  4. Start
  5. Discover
  6. Unleash
  7. Change
  8. Never
  9. Always
  10. Overcome
  1. Unlock
  2. Beat
  3. Free
  4. You, Your
  5. Ways To
  6. The Key To
  7. The Secret To
  8. Master
  9. Become
  10. Learn To

Have you come up with your book’s killer title?

Score your title on the following components:

0 = disagree totally, 1 = agree slightly, 2 = agree totally

My Book’s Title…

Makes a big promise

Poses a question

Says something contentious, shocking or risky

Creates curiosity

Is easy to remember and share

Is unique and catchy

Clearly indicates what the book is about

Would work well as a headline in a newspaper or sales letter

Is easy to spell and pronounce

Uses simple, dramatic and/or sensational words

Your Score

0-3: Do not put it on your book. This headline will put people to sleep, won’t grab attention and will possibly spell instant failure for your book’s chances. Ask yourself, ‘How can I make my title tick more boxes?’ It’s really worth getting this as good as you can.

4-6: Could be a winner. It really depends where you scored highly. If you strongly agreed with just one of the first three components of a good book title then it’s probably a great title. If you didn’t, ask yourself, ‘How can I make this title tick one of the first three boxes?’

7+: You have a killer title. This will be a huge asset to your book and, as you’ll see, will add powerful impact to your position as an authority. The title alone will significantly influence a publisher’s decision to publish, or a reader’s decision to buy your book.

If you want to run your title past us, email me at

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