Better Book Titles

never eat aloneI have been thinking a lot lately about what makes a good book title.

  1. The title needs to clearly describe what the book is about. – I know this sounds obvious. And it is!  Yet, too many books fail this most basic test. Clarity is the most important quality for a book title. Most books never get picked up because the reader doesn’t know what the book is about.  So, avoid jargon and made up words.  And yes, Freakonomics is a made up word but we immediately know what the authors mean.
  2. Great book titles signal the change – Good To Great. Getting Things Done. Daring Greatly. Lean In. There is no question what is going to be different after you are done reading the book. These are very direct routes to the change.
  3. Great book titles signal positive change – Books are paper devices filled with hope.
  4. Subtitles deliver the promise – If titles are about being clear, then subtitles are about making promises.  What is the reader going to get?
  5. Never repeat words in both the title and the subtitle – Use different words to create variety and add more meaning.
  6. The best titles use three word or less – We are all lazy and don’t like to remember long titles.  And if there is a long title, we shortened it anyway as we start to tell others about it.
  7. Use an odd number of syllables – Titles sound better ending on a downbeat. Try it. 90% of your favorite titles will have 3, 5 or 7 syllables.

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