At AMACOM we put a lot of time into packaging our books. One of the first things we consider in packaging is the title. Discoverability is incredibly important, and the title plays a crucial role in that process. As shelf space is shrinking in physical bookstores, you want to make sure you use all the tricks to make your book more discoverable, and that includes having a really good title.
Here are some of the issues we consider when creating a title:
Is it searchable? If someone were looking for a book on this topic, what would they type into an online bookstore? Create a list of words and phrases related to the topic. You can do research on Google to find out which of these terms are the most searchable and will yield the best results.
Does it indicate a benefit? This is not possible in every title, but is desirable to have. You want the reader to get a sense of why they want to buy it.
Is it clear what the book is about? Often we’ll brainstorm a title and think we have the perfect title and then realize if you didn’t know anything about the book you might get the wrong impression. Run it by a few folks who are not close to your book to see if they understand what the book is about. Also do research to make sure that the words and phrases you are using are not being used for something completely different. Are there other books with the same title? Are there trademarked terms? Make sure before you publish a title. You don’t want to be surprised later by a lawsuit, even if it doesn’t seem like they have a case.
Does it pass the subway test? If your book is going to be purchased as an ebook this is perhaps less of an issue, but if you are planning on selling print copies you may want to consider what we call the subway test: Will the reader be embarrassed by being caught reading it. Sometimes small changes in the way the title is worded can make a book sound less embarrassing.
Christina Parisi is an Executive Editor at AMACOM Books and the Director of AMA Self-Studies. She has been with AMACOM for 12 years and acquires books in management, leadership, training, HR, and general business. For book submission guidelines, see our website.