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Writing a Book Title That Sells - Part 3

You’ve done all the hard work on picking a selling title for your book and now you might have to do it all over again for a subtitle!  Before we go into subtitles, think about whether your book really needs one. It is very true to say that while some titles can benefit from the additional information that a subtitle can provide, there are those that simply don’t need it. Some of the situations where a book does not require a subtitle are:

When The Author is Well-Known or a Celebrity Author – Take a book like “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler. You could easily think that the book is about something like good manners, except for the huge picture of the household-name comedienne in the center of the book cover. Along with her name, of course. Another one would be “Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape”. While it is partly about Italy, Gino D’Acampo is a well-known Italian chef – his books need no further explanation.

When The Author is Already Famous and Known For What They write – Back to the previous example – Gino D’Acampo – we all know that any book that comes from him will be about Italy and food. Bill Bryson is another one, famous for his humorous travel books, or David McCullough, who always writes biographies. Some authors need no introduction and their titles need no extra information.

When It’s a Novel and Not Non-Fiction – While there are exceptions to the rule, in general, fictional books do not require subtitles.

Writing a Subtitle To Go With Your Title

If your book title does require a subtitle, keep the following tips in mind. And remember what you did for the title? You’re going to have to do it all over again, this time for the subtitle.

Subtitles tend to be clarifiers – they clarify the title or they expand on it to provide a little more information.

If your book title has oblique or unfamiliar terms, uses jargon and so on it will usually benefit from good, clear subtitles.

Never duplicate your ideas. Your subtitle should add information to the title not mimic it. Don’t forget, you don’t have much space on the cover so use the power of your title and subtitle to its maximum.

Think about using keywords. These are an incredibly important tool for marketing online because the search engines use them to help readers find your book.

Keep your explanation clear. You might have a bit of poetic license with the title but the subtitle must be clear and simple, not full of jargon.

Keep it to the point. You can't use your subtitle as an excuse to write another book on the cover! Keep it short, to the point and make sure it supports your title.

Improving Your Book Title

Coming up with a great title isn’t easy. If your title is only just OK then you might need to do some work on improving it. Look at the title from the perspective of your potential audience. Does it cater to a specific set of readers? Can it be broadened to draw in others that might not be caught by the original title? Like your book cover, the title is a seller so make sure you get it right.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds