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What's in a Book Title?: Part 2

Posted September 4, 2007

Topics: Publishing

So, how can you create a great title for your book?

Over the years, we’ve watched the business bestseller charts and observed some clear formulas behind good titles. Understanding these can help you to create the best title for your book, and so here’s a selection, together with a few questions to help stimulate your thinking.

The compelling visual metaphor.

The Tipping Point, The Invisible Hand, Barbarians at the Gate, The Long Tail, The Beermat Entrepreneur, Blue Ocean Strategy, The Machine That Changed the World, Hot Spots, Strategy Safari, A Random Walk down Wall Street, The Money Diet, The Knowing-Doing Gap, The Mind Gym, The Dark Side of Risk, The Empty Raincoat.

What visual metaphor best captures the essence of your book?

If a reader applies your ideas, what would success look like?

What image might you want to see on the front cover?

The journey or transformation.

From Good to Great, In Search of Excellence, Getting to Yes, Strategy Safari (again), Competing for the Future.

What‘s the destination for your readers (and the starting point)?

Where do your readers all want to go?

What are they searching for?

The time or event “trigger”

The One Minute Manager, The 10-Day MBA, Change your Life in Seven Days, Start your Business Week by Week, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Seven Figures in Seven Years.

How quickly does your reader want to succeed?

What typical timeline can you beat?

When is the crucial deadline?

The magic formula

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Rules of Work, The 48 Laws of Power, The Fifth Discipline, The Balanced Scorecard

What’s the transformational process or tool at the heart of the book?

How many steps to success are there?

The greatest story ever told

The Smartest Guys in the Room, Traders Guns & Money, Against the Gods, Barbarians at the Gate, Liar’s Poker, The Millionaire Upgrade, Other People’s Money, The Cluetrain Manifesto, The Goal, Confessions of an Economic Hit-man

If your book was a film, what would a studio call it?

Where’s the drama? Who are the main characters? What’s the story?

The simple promise (“it does what it says on the tin”)

How to Win Friends and Influence People, How to be Rich, How to Manage, How to Grow When Markets Don't, How to Be Brilliant, How to Be a Property Millionnaire

What does your reader want to do or be?

What does your reader want to achieve or acquire?

What problem does your reader most want solved?

How would you complete the sentence “this is the book that tells you …”?

The definitive answer

The Art of War, The Art of the Start, The Practice of Management, The Nature of Managerial Work, The End of Poverty, The Discipline of Market Leaders, The Wisdom of Crowds, The Perfect CV, The Definitive Business Plan, Why Globalisation Works, Why We Buy

What’s the big question that your book answers?

What problem does your book solve?

What skill, function or role does it define, once and for all?

The question or challenge to the reader

What Colour is your Parachute? Now Discover Your Strengths, Why Should Anyone be Lead by You? Who Moved my Cheese? It’s Not How Good you Are, It’s How Good you Want to Be, Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

What is your personal challenge to the reader?

What would you ask them to engage their attention?

The slogan

No Logo, Funky Business, Purple Cow, Karaoke Capitalism, Freakonomics, Screw It Let’s Do It, Free Prize Inside, Everything Bad Is Good for You, The World is Flat, Managers not MBAs. A great formula for books with attitude.

If you wanted to grab the attention of a room full of executives for your presentation, what phrase would be on your first slide?

If readers of your book took to the streets, what would be on their banners?

What slogan would you put on the t-shirt to match your book?

In the next blog, I will offer a Quick Title Test that may help you "sanity check" your title. It is a good way to get the best title you can.