Choosing a Title


Choosing a title for a book, especially one that is aimed beyond only family and friends for the larger commercial market, can be stressful, because it’s hard to over-emphasize its importance. The title must grab the reader, so that he or she will pick it up and read what it’s about. And it must clearly tell what the book is about, so that the reader can make that connection.

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Finally, the title should set your book apart from similar ones on the market. It’s important to do a title search on Amazon to make sure that the title you choose isn’t already taken—at least not recently, and not for a same-genre book. Although you can’t copyright a title, you don’t want your potential reader to confuse your book with another—and perhaps buy the other.

A good title often includes some tension among the words, such as Deep Ascent for a memoir/mountain climbing story. Sometimes it reveals a metaphor suggested within the story. The advantage of latching onto a metaphor is that it can provide good direction for cover design. In the covers pictured, Corridors in the Sky is the story of an air traffic controller, A Long Row Through Life is the life story of a man on a champion rowing team in high school and again in his 70s, Cowboy Troubadour is about a cowboy who traveled around the world with a Martin guitar. In each case the title gave the cover designer a direction to explore.

Unfortunately, the best title is often not the one that the client initially loves and wants it to be. The client might love it for personal reasons or reminiscences, but it might not be a title that will resonate in the larger world. If possible it’s important to encourage the client to brainstorm another title. Hopefully you will find a mutually agreeable one that will entice intended readers to find it, buy it, and read it.