Why is the book title so important?
As an author yourself, you most likely love reading books and are aware of the pull a good book title can have - or how much a poorly chosen book title can inhibit the desire to read and discourage purchase.
As part of the so-called metadata - that is all the text and data that characterize and describe your book, as well as Blurb, Genre, Cover, page format, page number, ISBN, year of publication, etc. - the book title has a special meaning:
- The book title, together with the cover, blurb and other metadata, forms the potential buyer's and reader's first impression and judgment of a book.
- The book title plays a crucial role in how well and quickly your book is found. Because Booksellers and online shops sort your book into a certain product group or search category depending on the genre. Your book title should therefore be unusual, but also fit the chosen genre.
Also, books often become popular through word of mouth and reading recommendations. Let's say you are an absolute fan of romance novels and you read about a new romance novel called "Am Ufer". Would that title make you want to buy the novel? Probably not, because the title does not indicate that it is a romantic romance novel. Thus, you naturally doubt whether the novel meets your expectations of a romance novel. No matter how romantic the book may be and how much it conforms to the conventions of the romance genre, your decision not to engage with the book has been made and you have been lost to the author as a buyer.
What makes a good book title?
The previous example already suggested it: A book title is good if it fits the genre without revealing too much about the book's content. In addition, a good book title is unusual, arouses interest and is also memorable when you hear it for the first time.
Finding such a book title that combines all these qualities is impossible? In fact, it is extremely difficult to find a truly perfect book title. Just consider the number of 80,000 to 90,000 new publications on the book market each year. Remaining unmistakable is truly an art.
But: you should set the bar high when choosing your book title, think carefully, check if the chosen book title already exists and ask acquaintances, friends or other test readers for their opinion on your book title or title drafts.
You should also orientate yourself on successful authors, without copying them, of course. However, taking a closer look at the current bestsellers in your genre can be helpful if you are looking for ideas for your own title.
Also remember that your novel, and therefore your book title, should move the reader, i.e. move them emotionally. A book title that arouses feelings or creates images in the mind is therefore a big plus.
If you are writing a non-fiction or technical book, it is important that you use certain keywords in the book title that relate to your topic. This way, your book will be found quickly and easily by the relevant target group.
By the way, the book title also has no small influence on whether your book project has a Publisher or editor is convinced or not. If your title is a "real banger", it may persuade an editor to even look at your submitted manuscript. In this regard, feel free to read our posts on "Submit manuscript" and "Self-publishing or publishing house“.
Before we explain some strategies on how to find a good book title, let's take a quick look at when to choose your book title and when to check if a title already exists.
When is the right time to choose the book title?
You have probably heard the word "working title" before: a provisional title that you will probably change or adapt later. If you have ideas for a title while you are writing, you should first use them as a working title for yourself or in conversation with others.
You'll usually do a lot of tinkering with your book during the writing process, changing, rewriting, or deleting passages entirely, adjusting and adding certain plot lines, etc. In short, your book will change several times in terms of content. You should therefore decide on the book title at the very end, when the content of your book is ready and you can only make linguistic and stylistic corrections.
Choosing your book title can be a quick process - or it can take several days or weeks. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to pore over a perfect book title every day. Don't let yourself get rattled. Share ideas with fellow authors, test readers, bookworms, or lovers of your genre. You can't really choose a book title well under time pressure, but with sufficient calm and brain power.
Attention, does the chosen book title already exist?
Before we go into how to find an appropriate book title, this tip is very important: For each of your ideas, always check thoroughly whether the respective book title already exists. If there is already a book on the market with the same or a very similar title, you will not be able to use this book title for legal reasons.
The background: Book titles are protected under trademark law. Anyone who has published a book with a particular title can therefore sue anyone who uses an identical or similar title in such a way that there is a likelihood of confusion for injunctive relief and, under certain circumstances, also for damages. We deal with this in a detailed article on title protection.
You can check whether a book title already exists or not by searching for your desired book title on Amazon, Google or ideally on bookstore.com you enter. At tredition, we check this when you enter your title. If you want to be very precise, it's best to also check the Title protection notices of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, which indicate which titles will be used for books, calendars, etc. that are likely to be published soon. What are the methods of finding a good book title?
Strategies for finding titles
Regardless of how you approach a good book title, it makes sense to start by jotting down - during and after writing your book - keywords, terms, and short phrases that are defining and characteristic of your book. This list of keywords will help you as a "vocabulary repertoire" when you use the following strategies to find a title:
- Description of the story
- Use of rhetorical stylistic devices
- Combination of genre-typical terms
- Name characters and locations
Describe your story
This is one of the easiest ways to approach a good book title. Who knows better what your book is about or what the core message of your book is than you? So summarize the topic in a short sentence, an apt statement, etc.
- The boy with the red shoes
- The woman who never laughed
- A winter in Finland
- On the way to the summit
- Lying for life
If you ever wander through a bookstore, you will find many books whose titles, like the ones above, simply summarize, hint at, or paraphrase the content. Even among the current bestsellers, you will always find titles chosen according to this principle.
It is important that you do not choose a title that gives too much away or even reveals the outcome of your novel. Nevertheless, if the title is curious, it may also reveal the beginning of a plot, such as "The Hundred-Year-Old Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared". This title is long, already hints at the plot, but is unusual in content and seems almost crazy. Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" is an example of a literary classic with a long, descriptive and also euphonious and at the same time allegorical title.
Use rhetorical stylistic devices
This method of finding a book title is more challenging. You can approach your book topic metaphorically, for example. A metaphor is a figurative expression that replaces the actual word, such as "falling out of the clouds" or "being ahead of the game".
- If you are writing a book about birds, for example, you could use the metaphor "kings of the air".
- A romance novel could be titled "Fireworks of Emotion."
- An amusing short story about a raucous celebration could be titled "Hangover Breakfast Meeting Place."
If you don't use familiar metaphors but want to try to be more original, you should create an entirely new metaphor.
Alliteration is another stylistic device you can consider for your book title. This means that you use two or more words with the same initial sound; a connective word in between is also possible. The aim is to make the book title particularly memorable and to attract attention. This is why alliteration is often used in advertising. Examples of book titles with alliteration are:
- Gentle syllables
- Eternal determination
- In the sky the hope
- Boundless greed
Combine genre-typical terms
Put two nouns, or a noun and an adjective, together that literally or figuratively summarize or suggest your book's content and clarify its genre. This method is popular and common with light novels, romance novels, and mystery and thrillers. For example:
- Heart Gold
- Peace of mind
- Ice Moon
- Fountain of Death
- Bloody Wedding
- Sweet evening hours
- Charming encounter
Again, ideally, don't use word combinations that are too trite or inappropriate. Unusual is fine, but please don't be clumsy or contrived! Also, make sure to use certain keywords that are typical for your genre (like blood, knife, cold, abyss, etc. for crime fiction). If you can't find an appropriate combination of words, you should use another method to choose a book title.
Characters and locations
This approach is also obvious and is used numerous times in literature, very often in children's and youth literature, for example in series titles such as "Conni goes shopping", "Conni goes to the zoo" (Carlsen Verlag). Of course, this method can also be applied to novels in adult literature, for example:
- Juliet and the fateful inheritance
- Lisa on the brink
- Murder at Lake Constance - the first case of Inspector Hähnlein
Especially if you are planning one or more sequels to your novel, this method of finding a title is a good idea because of the high recognition value.
Hardly anyone is unfamiliar with Bastian Sick's bestsellers with the title "Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod" (The Dative is the Genitive's Death): a play on words that fits perfectly with the books that explain the peculiarities and typical errors of the German language and take a light-hearted look at them. If you manage to find such an unusual book title, this is a clear plus for your book: Hardly any reader will not be positively surprised by such a title, most will linger over the book in the bookstore or online shop and deal with it. The important thing is: in doing so, please do not become unintentionally funny avoid forcing an originality of your book title. This quickly backfires.
Some popular examples of unusual and funny book titles are:
- Raising children wrong, but right, Klett-Cotta
- I've got the fattest horns. A bus driver tells you where to go, Heyne
- There are more stars than idiots, S. Fischer
Other examples of original titles can be found here.
For non-fiction and technical books: Use keywords
If you are writing a non-fiction or technical book, the title of the book will often be self-explanatory, as you will mention the topic in the title, such as "101 Tips for Optimal Customer Service". Readers looking for literature on the topic of customer service will find such a book well in online shops.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of using keywords and catchwords in non-fiction and technical books. Unlike novels, readers of non-fiction or technical books want to find out more about a specific topic, or to learn more about it. It is therefore important that your book signals directly in the title on which topic you are imparting knowledge.
If you want to use a play on words in the title of your non-fiction or technical book without appropriate keywords, the subtitle can serve as a concretization and clarification of the topic.
Comprehensive tips on non-fiction writing can also be found at tredition.
Why does a book title generator not make sense?
In the meantime, a whole series of so-called book title or name generators can be found on the Internet. This is software that suggests book titles or names for brands and companies etc. when you enter certain terms. This may sound tempting at first, but from our experience at tredition, we advise you not to use such book title generators.
Generators usually throw up a variety of results, but most of them are not very useful. The problem is that, unlike the human brain, generators are not capable of recognizing linguistic subtleties and content connections and combining them intelligently. Neither does a generator know your book content. Therefore, it is very unlikely that you will find a book title in this way that really attracts attention and excitement and at the same time aptly summarizes or describes your book.
As you have learned, there are a number of ways to find a suitable book title. The best thing to do is to try out the various methods we have described. If you can't find a suitable book title, then "park" the topic for a few days. The best ideas often come from a flash of inspiration when you're not expecting them. It's best to avoid getting stuck on one particular idea and talk to others about your draft titles. This can lead to completely new and good approaches.
Have you already found a suitable book title and would like to see how it looks on a book cover? Then feel free to use our Cover Designer to easily create a book cover. To do this, simply and easily create a book project at tredition.
Do you still need tips for writing your book? Then we also recommend our article on the topic write a book.