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3 Book Title Mistakes That Will Murder Your Marketing Efforts

We all know not to judge a book by its cover.

But can the same be said about its title?

The title of a book is one of the key pieces of information that a potential book buyer uses to judge whether the book is worth their time.

Sadly, many authors treat their title as an afterthought. Others have an irrational attachment to a title they are fond of – in spite of the fact the title will be a detriment to their book marketing efforts.

It’s a shame that something as momentous as a book can be stopped dead in its tracks by something as simple as a title.

Let’s take a look at the major book title mistakes to avoid in order to give your book the best chance of success.

Mistake 1 – Boring Titles

It sounds simple, but a title needs to impact, as well as inform, a potential buyer.

Often, a book’s title is the determining factor as to whether the buyer moves on to read the description and checks the book out further.

One of the surest ways to send a browser’s attention directly to another book is by boring them with the title.

To spice things up, and whet a reader’s appetite, consider using more engaging choices of adjectives. Words that hit a reader on an emotional level are a great choice. Learn more about achieving emotional impact through your choice of book title words here.

Titles can avoid the bottomless pit of boredom by being mysterious or intriguing. Something that fascinates a reader is perfect. If you’ve ever come across a title that leaves you thinking ‘I really want to know what on Earth that is about’, you’ll know exactly how effective this can be.

With regards to nonfiction, it’s important that a title informs the reader what they will learn, and explains why it is worth their time to do so. This is often achieved with a combination of an effective title and subtitle.

Mistake 2 – Wrong For The Genre

If you spend some time browsing genre fiction, you will tend to come across a set of conventions that governs what the genre is all about.

More established authors can often play around with genre conventions – but it’s less advisable if you are just starting out. Until you have established a reputation and following within a particular genre, you want to avoid the possibility of turning readers away from your work due to an off putting title.

Avoiding this mistake is best achieved by a little market research – just take some time to see what titles are selling well within your intended genre, and whether yours would fit in well.

Mistake 3 – Cover Incompatibility

Book titles and book covers need to work in harmony.

Too many great books are ruined by a title which doesn’t work with the images on the cover.

This often happens if each aspect of the book is handled in isolation, without the creators involved communicating and collaborating with one another.

It’s important that a title and a cover feel right for each other – they should evoke a similar mood or response. A morbid title with a brightly colored cover may be incongruent, for example.

It’s best to fit a title around a cover, or vice versa. Treating them as entirely separate is a recipe for disaster.

Final Thoughts

Although the title of a book is sometimes dismissed as ‘the icing on the cake’, would you really want a cake with disgusting or inappropriate icing?

Don’t repel your readers with a title which doesn’t work for them.

Dave Durden is dedicated to helping people achieve financial success through the myriad opportunities presented by Amazon. He blogs at AMZProf.com


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  • Chris

    There’s the matter of series titles to be considered, too. Many authors (including myself) follow a ‘style’ with titles for books in a series. In my case, I have a single word main title, with a sub-title which is a quotation from one of the characters in the novel.
    Examples being: TRANSACTIONS – “The gift wrapped special selection box of assorted tarts” and DISRESPECTED – “Nothing gets you a little respect like the muzzle of a gun”

    Others use the main character’s name, or characters’ in the case of ensemble works, in all the titles of a series. This was popular in children’s literature, examples being: W.E. Johns’ ‘Biggles Flies East’ and ‘Biggles of the Camel Squadron’, or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, including ‘Five go to Smuggler’s Top’, or ‘Five on Finniston Farm’.

    A series logo on the cover can also help identify series novels to prospective readers… logos such as the stick man with gun and halo on Leslie Charteris’s ‘The Saint’ novels, or the ‘007pistol’ on Fleming’s Bond books (and the subsequent films). I use the attached logo on one corner of the covers to my ‘Lena’s Friends’ crime novels https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/408692a18752242ff8a3e245234113782b115c0dddbb5cbdaaf81019c12a9b05.jpg (My protagonist, Lena Fox, is a high class hooker).

    • Book Marketing Tools

      Great stuff Chris!

  • A very informative post.I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing!

  • really_fed_up_taxpayer

    Would have been a far better article if the author provided specific examples!