Like choosing the perfect name for your firstborn, choosing the title of your book can be a major source of overwhelm.
I have met people for whom this process was quick and easy, but many more for whom months had gone by before they locked in their choice.
How do you know if it’s the right one, what if it’s already taken, and does it speak to my ideal book audience?
I’m no stranger to this dilemma either. Until this week, I was in the midst of book titling for 9 months.
Funny irony that I could have had a baby in that same time, but instead I birthed a book 🙂
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I find my life much more rewarding when I can help others by sharing my experiences. And that’s what this post is all about.
When you begin drafting your book, make sure you have a lot of fun making a big old list of possible titles that speak to you.
Keep all of them in one central document and allow the list to grow as you draft your book.
Remain open to finalizing your title until after you’ve completed your full manuscript.
Otherwise, I suspect you’ll be easily distracted and consumed by the titling, rather than finishing the draft…it’s a disguised form of procrastination, beware of it 🙂
Give yourself at least 6 months to 1 year to explore book titles with your ideal book audience.
This means have a specific type of reader in mind when you’re crafting your title, and look for the sweet spot between a title that resonates with you authentically, and one that speaks to that specific audience you’re looking to speak to. For example, if your audience is women who are unemployed and in their 20s, what messages is this group yearning to hear and how could you craft a title to speak specifically to them?
Accept that there will be people who LOVE your title and those that really dislike it.
That’s okay, and if everyone turns out to love it you may want to ensure the title isn’t mediocre. As long as their is polarization, you can be fairly certain that you’re being provocative, just ensure that its provocative in the way you intend it to be, to the intended audience of readers.
Ask a small and trusted group of your peers to send you their ideas.
Sometimes we’ve been sitting in our own creative vacuum for so long that we can’t see the forest from the trees. When I get into that place, I call or email a friend. In this case, I spoke to 5 of my peers whom I respect deeply and who I knew would get what I was looking for. I asked each of them to send their top 5 title ideas to me, and I narrowed down my list from there. It was immensely helpful to get an outside take.
When you feel you’ve got your top 5 options narrowed down, search google, amazon and go daddy next.
This will help you see what combination of words or phrases are associated with other books, products, issues or events. It’s okay if others are using a few of the same word combinations as you are, but do ensure there is something unique and distinct about your title. And then, make sure there is some workable URL / domain name available on godaddy.com that you could buy and use once you’re ready to do so.
Survey your network and get people engaged in choosing your title with you.
This is a very effective way of building hype and interest in what you’re doing, and it’s also a great way to test your titles with people you’re
likely to see to. I did this by asking my Facebook friends which of my top 3 titles they would choose, and I didn’t ask them to give me new ideas. Giving people options to choose from is way more effective in this type of scenario then asking people to dump all their bright ideas at you without context. There are a lot of things to consider when titling something, and it’s not fair to expect your network to have those in mind. This exercise is more of a pulse-check on which titles resonate more than others to help you eliminate options, not create more.
Warning: don’t get overly concerned with what your mother, your brother and your partner think, unless they are your target reader. You want to get particularly interested in the later over everyone else’s opinions.
After all that is who you want to buy the book.I was delighted to see 100 people respond, and with that data I did what any A-type keener would: I made a spreadsheet and sorted the data to see what I would find. Have a look at the variables I entered in:
Examine your survey results, and then make your final choice.
Look, this is your book, and your title. In the end, you are surveying people to help you in the consideration of options, not in making your final choice for you. You have to stand by the title of your book, and only you will know when you have found your perfect fit.It’s just like love or that new outfit: you’re the best judge of your choices.
In my case, this is what I concluded. I would have been just fine going with any one of the three titles I choose. However, the title including the word ‘unapologetic’ was the most compelling to people. Those in my target reader age of 25 – 35 loved it, and anyone 50+ thought it was offensive and would be misunderstood. And that was fine by me.
From there, I knew I was 80% close, but that there was still something obvious missing in the title that would make it clear that my book was for those who had either quit their job to pursue self-employment, or who were on the cusp of becoming their own boss.
So I asked another close friend and businessman Rob Duxter how he would phrase it…he suggested BYOB, be your own boss.
JACKPOT!!! I had it. So with ‘unapologetic’ (the perfect word provided to me by dear friend Sherien Barsoum) and BYOB nailed (thank you Robbie), I only needed to complete the last go of pulling it all together.
This past Monday, on my bi-weekly google hangout mastermind with fellow ‘bosses’ Trey Anthony and Tash Jefferies, the title was completed. I knew it when Trey read me the full title. I got a huge smile across my face, I got ‘the butterflies’, I got goosebumps and I got a hot flash. That’s usually what I feel when my creative vision is fulfilled. LOL.
I called a few more people to ensure it resonated, and within an hour, I locked in my final title.
Once your title is locked buy your domain names and secure your digital assets.
The same day that I locked in my title, I went to godaddy.com and bought all the combinations (in .com and .ca) that I wanted. I looked for the shortest and the easiest combination of letters related to my book that I could find. I redirected the domains to the “book” page on my website and I called it a day.
Celebrate by announcing your title to the world.
A great way to ensure I lock in my new title is to announce it publicly. This continues to build excitement and interest in your book and it makes it very real in the universe that you are going through with this. It may make you nervous, it makes me nervous, but I know it’s a good kind of nervous. This blog post is my celebration, and the video above is my announcement that my very first book is on its way.
I hope this is helpful. Remember, it’s not a formula, it’s simply how I patiently and methodically arrived at my perfect book title.
Who do you know who is writing a book, or who wants to write one and could use some support around their book title? Please share this post with them. And, if you’re an author, I want to know in the comments field below, how did you come up with your book title?
Thank you so much for reading and watching.
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