The Title – How To Pick A Title For Your Book

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In this section:

How to pick a title for your book

You’ve signed your contract. Now’s a great time to reflect on your title. Does it really work? If not, it’s not too late to change it.

Here are our top tips on how to choose the right title:

  1. DO get straight to the point. The reader should get a good idea of what the book is about just by reading the title. Remember, bookshop buyers buy along subject lines. If the subject isn’t clear, they won’t stock it.
  2. DO describe your book. If the contents of your title do not not match up with the contents of your book, it will put people off.
  3. DO check if your title has the right Keywords. The right keywords and phrases in your title, subtitle, blurb and Keyword box (on your Marketing page) greatly increase your visibility on search engines such as Google, Amazon, Apple and LibraryThing. As most people “shop” for books on line, this is crucial to your book’s success. If you’ve written a book that teaches reiki and someone searches for “book on how to do reiki” and your book does not show up on the first 1-3 pages of results, potential readers are not going to find it.
  4. DO move articles to the end of your title. For example, The Zen Way of Counselling should be Zen Way of Counselling, The
  5. DO Test title options out on other people – friends, booksellers, librarians, and even strangers on the street! Keep trying until you find one that clicks.
  6. DO include a Subtitle even if you think you don’t need one. Some distributors, like NBN, who we work with in America, require a subtitle to be added for ALL books. For fiction, the North American trade like to have the subtitle "A Novel" included as standard. If you're offered a contract and you accept it, ultimately, the decision lies with the publisher.
  7. DO check for other books with the same title. Book titles typically can't be copyrighted but if there is a book in the same field, on a similar subject, best choose another title. If there is a book with the same title which sold very well, again, best choose another title; you don't want to compete with it on retail sites and search engines (your new book will be harder to find).
  8. DON’T use more than 29 characters; that’s the maximum number that many online sales databases can hold. If it’s over that, different databases may truncate your title and people who want to buy your book will find it hard to obtain.
  9. DON’T include unwitting attention-grabbing obscenities that may be blocked by profanity filters online and in databases, e.g. The Scunthorpe Problem.
  10. DON’T infringe copyright by quoting song lyrics, films, TV shows, etc.
  11. DON’T use ampersands, hyphens, apostrophes or similar punctuation wherever possible. If your book is titled "Your Cat & Dog Guide" and someone rings up a distributor or shop asking for it, the operator may search under "cat and dog" and then say that they do not stock it, because it will not appear on the screen.

How to change your title

You can change the title yourself, on your Book Details page, up to the point when you have uploaded your final, copyedited manuscript to the Production page. Then it is "locked," and your access to that box is removed.

And it’s not a good idea to leave it that late, anyway.

Very occasionally we change your title

In rare cases, once the contract is signed, we may change your title or subtitle (or add a subtitle) if we feel it doesn’t do a good enough job of selling your book.

Once the information has gone out to the trade with the title, we cannot change it. We cannot publish a revised edition later with a different title; there are too many problems with people asking for the previous title and not being able to find it.

Video – How to pick a title for your book


Video – How to change your title