Saturday, June 14, 2008

John Kremer's 7 Keys to a Great Book Title

The following is taken from The Copywriting Maven blog by Roberta Rosenberg. I found some misleading statements in the article. As she notes in the comment below, those misleading statements came from the writer of the article and not from her. Nonetheless, they must be corrected. My response is highlighted in dark blue.

In the April issue of Steve Harrison’s Book Marketing Update, there’s an article based on author John Kremer’s (1001 Ways to Market Your Book) thoughts on book titling. With so many of us involved in self-publishing POD and ebooks, I thought I’d synopsize the recommendations.

1. Make your title memorable, since 80% of books are sold by word-of-mouth.

This really is the top consideration when creating a title for any book. I agree with this statement.

2. Short titles are best, most successful titles are around 5 words. Add a subtitle to expand and/or illuminate the information about your book.

While a short title, in most cases is best, I've seen many successful long titles. So the true rule here is this: The title should be the right length to describe what's in the book and yet provide the reader with the right motivation to buy the book.

3. Numbers in titles can be very effective for non-fiction, just as they are when writing headline copy.

Numbers can be effective, but 95% of titles, including the most successful, do not include numbers. Of course, my book does.

4. Include keywords for non-fiction titles. You want to put the main search terms for your subject in your title or subtitle, but don’t use terms that are too generic.

A good title is more important than stuffing keywords, unless you are selling your book primarily online. Then keywords can be important.

5. Try inventing or coining a word for your title, but strive for conceptual clarity rather than showing off how clever you are. (I coined ‘macromize” for a promotion I did for a book about um, Wordstar macros years ago. I still like it. :)

Coining words for a title is an absolute no-no, unless the coined word is a brand or can be made into a brand. Even then, coining words is generally, almost always, not a good idea.

6. Try to think brandable - the Chicken Soup, Idiots and Dummies series represent genius-level book branding at its finest.

When critiquing titles, I always work to see if the title can be made into a brand. 99% of titles cannot be made into brands, but the few that can be are often very successful.

7. Don’t try to do too much with your title. Think brand, then add the specific audience you’re going after.

Don't try to do too much with your title. The purpose of a title, firstmost, is simple: Attract attention. Get the attention of the people who really need or would want the book.

John Kremer's Book Title Critiques
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