Publishers employ expensive people to work exclusively on titling books and headlines with the goal of making the book as commercially viable as possible.
Many great books were initially given lousy titles. Let me share some examples:
Gone With The Wind was originally Tomorrow is Another Day
Peyton Place was originally Blossom and the Flower
Free Stuff For Kids was originally The Rainbow Book
The Zucchini Book was originally The Squash Book
Lady Chatterly’s Lover was originally John Thomas and Lady Jane
The Great Gatsby was originally Trimalchio in West Egg
Of Mice and Men was originally Something that Happened
Catch 22 was originally Catch 18
Here’s an exercise: Go into your local book store and browse through the best seller section. Watch the other store patrons, especially how they choose a book, quickly scan the front and back covers, then move on to another book.
Time them, this process usually takes around two seconds per book. That means you have two seconds to make the only impression on a potential reader (and customer). You must target all of their senses: Sight, speech, hearing and touch and smell.
1. Sight: Your book’s title has to be aesthetically appealing: When a potential reader initially comes in contact with your book’s title, it’s usually via the front cover. What this means is you need to consider spacing, fonts and colors.
2. Speech: If a potential reader has difficulty with the words, you have made it 10 times harder to market your book. Tim Ferriss pained over his first book’s title (The 4-Hour Work Week) and you must too.
3. Sound: Jim Rhone, the noted business philosopher said you must have something good to say to have effective communication. You need to get your message across as well as possible, as many times as possible. Lots of people will hear your book’s title, you need to make sure that, firstly it’s good and secondly, it’s said well.
4. Touch: In the sense that it’s relatable and has an influence over potential readers. Your book’s title must touch people and have a strong influence over them. Remember: The goal is to sell books!
5. Smell: Once again, in a figurative sense. Your books’ title must give off an aroma! That doesn’t sound very concrete, but it needs to project an atmosphere, or at least a special quality. If potential readers perceive a lot of thought went into the title – that it actually means something – they will assume the same about the entire book.
Lastly, but most importantly, your title needs to be short and simple. Nothing complex! Take a look at this week’s best seller list. Out of 20 books, how many have a one-word title? How about a two-word title? Keep it simple!
Have you completed your book and are ready to submit to literary agents? You need to get yourself the list of literary agents, a compiled list of every literary agent in the US.