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5 proven ways to create a bestselling book title

Focus on answering the reader question, “What’s in it for me?”

People may not judge a book by its cover, but they will judge a book by its title. A boring title can literally kill book sales. In contrast, a compelling title enhances sales and can help generate a bestseller.

As a marketing consultant who’s coached over 400 authors, I’m frequently asked about how I help my clients develop great book titles. I’ve been fortunate to have success in this area, such as working behind-the-scenes on two recent New York Times bestsellers, Made to Crave and Unglued.

People ask me, “What’s your secret to a killer title?” My answer is that I don’t have a secret. Instead, I create and judge book titles by whether they are able to pass this five-question test:

Question 1. Is the title easy to remember a week later? Is it sticky, memorable, and easy to say out loud?

Question 2. Does the title create curiosity? Does it make you want to know more about the book?

Question 3. Does the title imply value for the reader? Is there an implied promise or an answer to the reader’s ultimate question, “What’s in it for me?”

Question 4. Would a reader feel cool if someone saw them reading a book with that title? Readers have egos, and titles that people deem offensive or out-of-date can hinder sales.

Question 5. Does the title help build the author’s brand and enable the creation of complimentary spin-off resources, such as a multi-book deal for novelists (i.e. – trilogy) or assessments, seminars, coaching, and curriculum for non-fiction authors?

These five questions have helped me and my clients develop books that sell like wildfire. I encourage you to use them in your titling process. You can judge a book by its cover, but the real key is to judge a book by its title.

FYI – If you’ve got questions about titling or marketing your book, join me at TOC’s Author (R)evolution Day in New York on February 12th. I’ll be speaking on “Give It Away: How Free Digital Content Leads to Paid Book Sales.”

About Rob Eagar:
Rob Eagar is the founder of WildFire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell books like wildfire. He has consulted with numerous publishing houses and trained over 400 authors, including several New York Times bestsellers. Rob is the author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, which is considered the bible of book marketing. Find out more at: www.startawildfire.com

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  • Gregory Faccone

     Useful thoughts on titling. Definitely good to be catchy, and memorable. Even trying to make a title ‘cool’ and using it to grow your brand.

    Although the point about the title “implying a promise and answering the readers ultimate question” is good, but a little nebulous. How much of that could there be in, for example, ‘Twilight?’

  • http://www.bookkus.com/ William Yatscoff

    What do you think of thinking of 5 names for the title and then doing an onsite poll to see what is the most populat?