I read books. I read lots and lots of books. Which, even though Stephen King says you can’t be a good writer if you don’t have time to read, is actually unusual for a writer. Most writers, especially those who don’t have much time to write, spend their time writing. That makes sense, right? Right. But I read a lot of books, and sometimes I’ll have an epiphany.
Right now I’m reading Making More Money: Habits, Tactics, and Strategies for Making a Living as a Writer by Honoree Corder and Brian D. Meeks, and I had an epiphany.
How does a writer title their books, short stories, blog posts?
I suck at it.
And that was my epiphany.
No, not that I suck at creating titles for my books and stories. I knew that already.
No, I realized that On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton is the worst book title in the world. It was what I had named it while I was writing it, and I never changed it.
I should have.
Because I will never know how much money that sucky title cost me. In sales, in readers, in exposure. In anything that has to do with selling books.
Which is too bad because the story inside is really good.
Anyway, where was I going with this? I should have chosen a better title for my book. It’s about a guy in a bar called The Maze. I practically named the book myself while I was writing it, but did I use it? Nope. Even the new cover has a picture of a maze on it.
I blew it. Big time.
Anyway, back to the book I’m in the middle of reading. The authors talk about where to advertise. They talk about your cover, your description. Keywords. They haven’t, so far, mentioned the story itself, because I’m assuming they expect you to publish quality work. And they don’t talk about your book’s title. It would have been nice if they had.
How important is a book’s title? As important as the description? The cover? The reviews? Maybe it doesn’t matter.
It must matter somewhat because when I do research on deciding a book title, I read over and over again how to choose something that is not being used a million times. (This is easy enough to find, just search for that title in Books on Amazon and see what comes up.) But you also don’t want to name your book something so crazy in an attempt to stand out that it sounds out of place in your genre.
Choosing a title, writing your blurb, choosing your keywords, and creating your cover all need to go together to complement what your book is about in an attempt to achieve maximum sales and a high number of reviews.
I wish I would have known how important titles are when I named 1700. I do now, and I won’t be making any more mistakes. My title will make sense, my cover will tell readers what genre they are reading, and my tight description will hook them into the plot.
The problem is, we can’t know what turns a potential customer off. They might see past a sucky cover if the description is well-written and grabs their attention. Some might not do anything more than look at a horrible cover and move along. Some go directly to the reviews and if they are all glowing reports of a wonderful read, they don’t pay attention to anything else. Without knowing how a potential reader chooses their next read, it’s imperative that we get all the pieces of the book spot-on the first time around.
I’ve learned my lesson with Summer Secrets. I researched the title; I researched the genre. The title will match the cover and the description will be a hook so well-written that no one reading it could possibly turn away. I’ll try by best with the keywords. Unfortunately, reviews are out of my hands, but I can get the title right.
How do you think of names for your books/stories/blogs?
Articles about choosing a title: