How To Come Up With A Book Title Quickly

By the end of this post, you will know how to come up with a book title and you will have your very own book title written down on paper. There are several elements to a book title that you may not have thought of. But, you want this book to sell like hotcakes! This will be the one that everyone talks about for years to come. This is the book that will turn you into a successful author. Well, in order to have a book like that, you need a good book title that will get people to start reading that amazing book of yours.

Today I am going to teach you how to come up with a book title. I will walk you through the 5 actionable steps it takes to come up with a book title. I will also be giving you some examples of successful book titles and some hints about what not to do. If you follow these steps, you will have yourself a book title. A successful one.

Table Of Contents

Step 1: Know What Your Book Is About

crumpled up paper, Step 1: know what your book is about

In order to come up with a title that fully captivates your future readers, you have to pull them in with the title and cover on the front of the book, and the blurb on the back of the book. Today I am simply going over the title. In order to come up with the title, you need to know your book more than anyone.

So, the first step to writing a book title is to answer these questions. Take a sheet of paper out or pull up a word document and answer the questions below. This can help you not only with your blurb but also your title.

What?

  1. What point of view is the book told from?
  2. Is it a series or standalone?
  3. What is the book about?
  4. What is the genre?
  5. What is the theme?
  6. What is the conflict?

Example

The example I am using is a fake book idea that I have come up with on the spot (feel free to steal it if you wish). I want to give you an example so you don’t feel lost at any step of this book title creation walkthrough.

  1. My book is told from the first-person point of view
  2. It is a series
  3. My book is about a young woman who inherits her grandfathers’ tea shop. What she doesn’t know is that each tea blend has a magical secret ingredient.
  4. Fantasy
  5. Life: It isn’t always what you expect it to be. You may have thought your path was one road when really there is a fork in the road.
  6. The young woman’s grandfather had a business partner long ago but they haven’t been in contact for years. Now that her grandfather has passed away, she inherited his magical tea shop. His old business partner is coming back to get those magical secret ingredients. The main character is thrown into a magical world, business venture, and a fight to keep the shop’s secrets.

Who?

  1. Who is the book about?
  2. Who is your audience?

Example

  1. The book is about the main character. Her name is Kaylee and she is 20 years old.
  2. My book is targeted towards people who love the YA genre.

Where?

  1. Where does the novel take place?

Example

  1. This novel takes place on Earth in London, England.

Why?

  1. Why should they pick up your book and read (instill curiosity)

Example

  1. People should pick up my book because it appeals to normal life with magic thrown in to tea, which is not done very often.

Step 2: Understand What Makes A Successful Book Title

lightbulb, step 2: know what makes a successful book title

All successful books tend to follow the same rules. The titles are:

  • short in length
  • Attention-grabbing
  • Easy to say and spell
  • Informative
  • Original

I am going to go through all 5 of these aspects so you can craft a book title that follows these same lines. Let’s get into it!

Book Title Length

I counted the book title length for 200 books from the years 2000-2019. These books were rated the best books of the 2000s and 2010s in Goodreads. If you do a google search asking what a good book title length should be, most articles will tell you 5 words or less. But is this accurate? I wanted to find out the real answer, which is why I pulled from these two lists. Here is what I found:

The average title length for the best books is 3.7

The shortest title length for the best books in the last 20 years is 1

The longest title length for the best books in the last 20 years is 16

Based on the data, a good title length would be between 2-5 words.

Goodreads list: 2000s | Goodreads list 2010s

Attention-grabbing Titles

Titles that are attention-grabbing pull readers in across all mediums. This is the main focus for ads, article titles, newspapers, magazines, movie titles, product titles, and yes, book titles. It is the first thing that readers know about your book so it should make them do a double-take. If you can make someone in a bookstore on an online bookstore do a double-take, I can guarantee you they will at least pick it up or click on the book to find out more.

So, how do you create an attention-grabbing title? You have fun with the word play.

  • Combine words together that don’t normally go together
  • Rhyme
  • Funny phrases
  • Clever or witty phrases
  • Provoke thought
  • Curiosity

Here is a tip to help you better understand this concept. I want you to write down a list of books that you picked up or looked at simply because of the title. Those are attention-grabbing titles.

Goodreads has an entire list of attention-grabbing book titles. Here are a few titles on that list (Attention-grabbing book titles one and two) (Funny books list) (Rhyming books list):

  • Strange Sweet Song
  • When a Scott Ties The Knot
  • I Could Pee On This: And Other Poems By Cats
  • Overground Railroad
  • In This Moment
  • The Language of Ghosts
Pin-5 steps to writing a book title-an easy and actionable guide

Writing A Book Title That Is Easy To Say And Spell

This is arguably one of the most essential parts of a book title. How can your book be found or talked about without easily being able to be said or spelled? It can’t. Simplicity is always better in this case because the easier it is for someone to find your book, the better off you will be. Also, having a book title that is easy to say and spell is also memorable.

If I recommend a book to you, and you later try to find it. How will you without remembering what it was called or how to spell it? Most buyers are not going to do a full-on investigation to try and remember how to spell your book. Make it searchable and memorable by keeping it easy to say and spell.

What Makes A Book Title Informative?

This comes back to the first step I had you do. Remember those questions I had you answer about your own book? Good. You need those questions so that you can incorporate them into your book title. When writing a book title, you need to think about your audience. They don’t know your book like you do. So you need to tell them what your book is about, quickly. Is it primarily about a person, an event, an idea, an object?

You don’t want to mislead your audience either. Let’s pull from the example I gave in step one. My book is for YA genre readers who also love the fantasy genre. My book is about a young woman named Kaylee who inherits her grandfather’s tea shop. The tea has magical secret ingredients that an old business partner is desperate to get their hands on.

My title should not sound mysterious because my genre is fantasy. It should not be geared toward children because my audience is young adults. And it shouldn’t mention the business partner’s name when my book is about my main character.

My book title should mention something about the main elements of the book. These title should incorporate these main elements.

Take the questions you answered in step one, and pull the main elements from them. Try to make the main elements one or two words only.

Example

My main elements could be:

  • Kaylee
  • Magic tea
  • secret ingredient
  • tea shop
  • inherit
  • etc.

Come up with 5-10 words that incorporate the main elements of your story. Save these for step 5. This will help you later to incorporate them into your book titles.

The Importance Of Original Titles

An original title is not a creative title. What I mean is, your title should not be similar to or an exact match of another book that is out there. If someone searches your book title, and there are 3 other books with the same title, your book may not get clicked on. When you do have your list of book titles, make sure you do a quick google, amazon, Goodreads, etc. search to see if anyone has a title that is a little too similar to yours. You should also watch out for trademarks so you don’t get yourself into any trouble. You can search here to see if your title is trademarked (U.S. only).

Step 3: Gather Inspiration

Picture of a book in the sky, how to come up with a book title, Step 3: Gather Inspiration

Now you know your book, your audience, and what makes a good book title. Now it is time to put all of that knowledge to use!

You can gather inspiration through the following methods:

  • book title generators
  • pull from your favorite books(why is it your favorite, why do you like the title?), etc.
  • pull from your genre
  • use formulas as a starting point

Book Title Generators

Book title generators can be a great place to start when you want an idea. I would by no means use the results as a title unless there is one you fall in love with. But, they can get your creative juices flowing. Before you know it, those titles will inspire title ideas of your own. book title generators. Kindlepreneur has a good list of free book title generators.

Pull From Your Favorite Books

Just like in step 2, I want you to write down a list of books. However, this time I want you to write down your favorite books that you’ve read throughout your life. These titles can be the inspiration behind your title. Pay attention to see if they follow a similar pattern (are they names of characters, phrases, etc.?)

Pull From Your Genre

This is a great tool to use. You don’t want your title to misrepresent your genre. Go onto Amazon, Goodreads, or even google. Look up your genre and check out the titles. Great book titles stick to their genre. You have to think about it the same way you would your book cover. You wouldn’t have a detective on your book cover if it wasn’t a mystery, would you? Here are some example words from a few genres to give you an idea of what words you could use in your title.

Fantasy

  • Magic
  • Witch
  • Legend
  • Academy
  • Castle
  • Beast
  • Demons/Angels
  • Dungeon
  • Dwarves
  • Any fantastical creature
  • Enchant
  • King/Queen
  • etc.

Mystery

  • Suspect
  • Detective
  • Sleuth
  • Witness
  • Investigation
  • Alibi
  • Clue
  • Forensics
  • Crime
  • Hunch
  • Evidence
  • Puzzling
  • etc.

Adventure

  • Island
  • Land
  • The Adventures of
  • Journey
  • Abyss
  • Lost
  • Dangerous
  • Embark
  • Risky
  • Escapade
  • Treasure
  • Ploy
  • etc.

Horror

  • Haunt
  • Scary
  • Asylum
  • Blood
  • Shadows
  • Dead
  • Fear
  • Terror
  • Chilling
  • Fatal
  • Eerie
  • Grim
  • etc.

Use Formulas

Formulas again can be used for inspiration. Just be careful not to use the same formula for every book you write. People will catch on to the similarity. This goes back to originality. You want your books to be original when compared to others, but also when compared to yours. Here are a few:

  1. [Main Character Name]
  2. [Blank], [Blank], and [Blank]
  3. [Adjective] [Noun]
  4. When [Blank]
  5. How [Blank]
  6. Why [Blank]
  7. The Adventure’s of [Blank]
  8. The [object/place/etc.]

Example

  1. Harry Potter
  2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  3. Little Women
  4. When Calls The Heart
  5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  6. The Adventure’s of Tom Sawyer
  7. The Hunger Games

Step 4: Come Up With Several Types of Book Titles

A typewriter that says 'write something', step 4: come up with several types of book titles
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Come up with several types of book titles. It is time for you to make your list of book titles. One of these will end up being the title! How exciting!! Don’t stick to just one type of book title. For example, don’t just use names within the title. Try a mix of everything I mentioned in steps 2 and 3.

I want you to write down 10-20 book title ideas before you move on to the next step.

Step 5: Make The Decision

As a reminder, ask yourself the following questions for each book title you came up with:

  • Is it attention-grabbing?
  • Is it memorable
  • Is it easy to say and spell(searchability)
  • Is it informative?
  • Is it short?
  • Is it original (not used, trademarked, copyrighted, etc.)
  • Does it evoke curiosity?

Say your title out loud to answer some of these questions. it will help you imagine other people saying it out loud.

Ask alpha and beta readers which title sounds the best with what they read. Use survey tools like google survey or survey monkey. You can send the survey to your email list as well if you have one because they will be excited to hear about the prospect of a new book. Lastly, imagine the title on your book cover. Maybe even sketch it out. This will help you visualize your book title how others will see it.

infographic-how to come up with a book title in 5 steps
Infographic: How to come up with a book title

Book Title Mistakes To Avoid

Now I have taught you how to come up with a book title for your next amazing story. But, I haven’t given you the mistakes that you could make. So, here is a list of common mistakes I want you to think about as a last-ditch effort to making your final decision.

  • The title doesn’t match the genre
  • Title doesn’t mesh well with the cover design
  • It is boring or doesn’t inform the reader what the book is about
  • Title gives away a very important piece of the plot
  • Title makes sense to you, but no one else

I know that you can avoid these mistakes! Start by asking yourself if you made any of these mistakes (and be honest). Then, take to the survey’s beta readers, etc. that I mentioned earlier.

FAQ

Let’s Talk About It!

Today I taught you how to come up with a book title through 5 quick and easy steps. When it comes to writing a book title, you first have to know your book and what makes a great book title. Then and only then can you start coming up with the types of book titles that you will eventually choose from to make your final decision. You can use many tools to inspire you like book title generators, pulling from your favorite books, pulling from your genre, and even using formulas.

Lastly, when making your decision, there are some fundamental questions you can ask yourself about your titles. You can even say it out loud or sketch it onto a fake book cover to see how it looks. Or, you can reach out to your audience to see what they think of your title ideas.

Writing a book title simply comes down to knowing what steps to take. Now that you know what steps to take, follow through with them and let me know what 10 book title ideas you came up with in the comment section below. I will reply and let you know which one’s I think are the best so that way you can get even closer to making that final decision!

With love,

Alexis M.

P.S. If you liked this post check out my other posts for writers.

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