A year or or two ago, indies started adding subtitles to their books. Not to say any subtitle that pertained to their book in a way we would think. Particularly in nonfiction like:
Something like that. You have to wonder what “well” means in this instance. He publishes beautifully put-together books? Or he’s making money? Or both? Not sure. But I am glad he’s not trying to sell fake advice. So many people are these days. (Cue laughter.)
If you think about it, a fiction novel doesn’t need a subtitle, especially when you publish on Amazon where they give you space for a series name and book number.
But indies started adding subtitles to their books, and I resisted for a long time. I thought it looked tacky and I always felt if you have a specific-to-genre cover, a good blurb, and the actual title of your book makes sense, a potential reader will know what your book is about.
“Oh you poor summer child!” you’re saying. And you’d be right!
Did you ever notice that if the majority starts something, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to make them stop?
Subtitles for fiction books aren’t going away and even though I don’t like the look of them, the consensus has turned into, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Some authors started doing it to improve the discoverability of their books, but adding a subtitle may not do as much as adding pertinent keywords to your books when you publish. What a subtitle does do is tells a potential reader what subgenre your book is in, or what tropes the book has inside.
Recently I added subtitles to some of my books like All of Nothing.
What I have also seen authors do as well is add if their book is a standalone–which is actually smart and something I could/should add, too, but then you run the risk of having a lot of gobbledy-gook at the top of your product page.
If we know anything about people, it’s that they are lazy and if they see a ton of words blaring at them, that could be a turn-off, too.
Long story short: I see the value in adding a subtitle to your book–just keep the adjectives to a minimum.
If I were looking for a mystery/thriller, should I buy the one that’s only enthralling, or is the totally enthralling book better? It has a stunning ending, but the one that’s slightly less enthralling is full of twists. It’s such a hard choice!
The subtitle can’t do the heavy-lifting of a well-written blurb, but when you’re writing in a genre that has plenty of tropes, it makes sense to use a subtitle to quickly indicate what’s inside your book.
It’s a bit wordy, and I wouldn’t want to add anymore to the subtitle. It’s also a holiday wedding romance, but HIS FROZEN HEART: A STEAMY, SMALL-TOWN HOLIDAY CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE seems a bit much. Besides, I don’t play up Christmas, don’t even play up the wedding, and I figured the small-town aspect of it holds the most weight in the plot. I do like that Amazon lets you add the word STEAMY to indicate that there’s going to be sex. I’ll never get a bad review from a reader who thought it was sweet or clean.
Whether you agree with something like this or not, and whether indies are to blame for this or not, this is an area where you don’t want to be left behind. We are training readers to expect the subtitle to reveal subgenre and tropes the book holds and if your doesn’t have it, you could be setting your book up for readers to pass by.
Not everyone is going to resist as strongly as I did at first, and some of you are probably heading to your KDP dashboard right now. But if you’re having second thoughts, maybe consider the fact that traditionally published books are starting to add subtitles too.
Lisa Jackson’s books are both riveting and heartbreaking. That’s good to know! (I’ve read some of her books, and they’re also a little wordy if you ask me.)
If you want to add a subtitle to your book, you can add it to your ebook only. To add it to your paperback you have to republish your book, so it’s not worth the time (or the expense if you buy your ISBNs.) I was able to add some subtitles to a few of my books without any hassle. I also assign ISBNs to my ebooks and that didn’t prevent me from doing this. If you happened to have protected your work that way and need to know. Keep in mind this is for KDP. I have no idea how you would add a subtitle if you fulfill your orders with IngramSpark and I don’t know if this craze has bled over into other platforms like Kobo and Nook. I don’t read on those platforms and I don’t publish there.
Please remember you publish changes and you’ll be locked out of that book for about 48 hours. It has been taking KDP a little longer to process requests than it has in the past.
How do you feel about subtitles? Are you going to add them to your books? Let me know!