book title ideas

Book Title Ideas: Tips for Creating a Mesmerizing One

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

February 16, 2023

While there is no formula for creating a title to ensure that your book will become a best-seller, authors use strategies (and sometimes automatic generators) to help them formulate interesting and compelling book title ideas for their work.

And those in the literary, publishing and printing communities – including Publishing Xpress – don’t want to gatekeep the helpful hints that will assist writers in coming up with book title ideas that work for their content and impresses potential readers. So while there is no magical formula, there are concrete steps that writers can take and strategies to follow that will lead to excellent potential book title ideas for their books.

Book Title Ideas: Creating a Fiction Title You and Your Readers Will Love

1 Match the style and tone of your title to the genre.

While providing an unexpected twist and turn in the plot is welcomed by a reader, snagging a book off the shelf with a title that doesn’t match the story can be disappointing for a potential reader. When the romantic, light-hearted title indicates you will be flipping through the pages of your next beach read but instead you discover a murder mystery, you just might lose a little trust in the author.

Readers often use the title and the way the cover appears to make a snap decision on whether to take a look at a book, so choosing book title ideas that correctly reflect the genre and the topic or themes of your book is the best way to build reader trust and encourage a potential reader to snag your book off the shelf. One way to discover what your readers are expecting is to take a look at the most popular book title ideas in your book’s genre for inspiration.

If your book straddles two genres or explores a serious theme within a more light-hearted genre, be sure to look at popular books from both or all categories to help you create a framework of style expectations for your book title ideas.

Title Inspiration: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, A Wrinkle in Time

2 Let your book title ideas tease the topics or themes your fiction book will explore.

Give the readers something to pique their interest in your book title ideas. Include or incorporate a keyword or phrase that will be relevant to your story so that readers will want to read on to find out how those words play a part in the book.

Title Inspiration: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, The Circus Train

3 Use characters as the inspiration for a fiction book title ideas.

The protagonist and the antagonist both can provide potential book title ideas for your fiction story. Ask yourself leading questions to help you uncover if a character’s name or a reference to them is a compelling way to name your book, like:

  • What will be the main thing, action or characterization of your protagonist or antagonist that the readers will remember?
  • Will the main character(s) evoke a specific emotion from your readers?
  • Will the readers feel more connection with the hero or the villain?

Title Inspiration: Harry Potter, Charlotte’s Web

Book Title Ideas: Developing a Winning Nonfiction Title

1 Remember the cardinal rule for nonfiction: readers want to hear a solution to a problem.

Consider the purpose of your book and why you wrote it. Think about what makes your take on this nonfiction topic stand out from other books in the same genre or even over the same topic by asking yourself a few pointed questions to help focus the effect your book has on the reader, like:

  • Does the book answer previously unconsidered or unasked questions about the topic?
  • Does your book uncover details in a new or unique fashion?
  • Do you teach a skill?
  • Is the reader’s life impacted in some way by the book?

Use the answer to these questions as a springboard to create working book title ideas that captures the uniqueness of your book’s focus in a few words or a short phrase.

Title Inspiration: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Outliers: The Story of Success

2 Use a subtitle to clarify the nonfiction book’s purpose.

Nonfiction books often utilize subtitles to provide extra explanations to readers since, at first glance, the book’s topic may not be completely clear with the title alone. Not as common with fiction books, subtitles are the perfect way to capture a potential reader’s attention because they can be much longer than the average title’s length of five words or less.

A subtitle can be a longer phrase that provides context for the title as well as offers readers the possible outcome they will have when reading your book. To seek potential subtitles for your nonfiction book, ask yourself pointed questions about your book’s contents:

  • What are some ways to describe and further expound upon the solution(s) in your book?
  • If your book provides more than one solution, which one is the reader’s biggest pain point that you can provide a solution to?
  • What do you want your reader to be able to do or know after reading your book in addition to the primary solution?
  • How will your book improve your readers’ lives?

Craft a potential subtitle that may be up to two times as long as your book title ideas with the answer to one of the questions. Then, consider how many of the pages of your book the potential subtitle will pertain to. Choose a subtitle that will pertain to a larger part of your book or one that might be considered as the second most important lesson they will learn or a problem that will be solved with your nonfiction book.

It should be obvious to the reader why the author chose to include the subtitle because it should not only apply to a small section of the book or one sliver of the content. Instead, it should either support or explain the title or be the second most important lesson or problem solved with the book’s contents.

Title Inspiration: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

3 Use humor, satire or clever wording to make your nonfiction book title ideas unforgettable.

If you can bring a light-hearted tone to an otherwise drab subject, your title will stand out from others on the shelf. Remember, however, to make sure that the title’s tone matches the book’s contents. A humorous title would be incongruous with a nonfiction book about war, for example.

Readers grabbing such a book expecting a fun read would be put off when they discovered the book is really a gripping nonfiction book about battles or war strategies, potentially losing their trust in you as an author regardless of the quality of your writing.

Title Inspiration: Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Book Title Ideas for All Books

Test possible book title ideas with your target audience before landing on the perfect one

Host informal social media polls with those who are actively following you and hashtags or groups related to your book topic to see how your target audience will react to potential titles and subtitles.

Not only will these conversations give you feedback on how to craft the right title for your book, but they will also provide you with opportunities to connect with potential readers, generate excitement surrounding your upcoming book, and engage those who already have an interest in your book’s topic. You can also ask trusted friends or family members what they think about potential titles.

Consider consulting with a title generator

While these electronic tools are a good starting point, the results you get from them may not be nuanced enough to work for your final title. But if you are stumped and need some inspiration, consider testing out a generator to get the creative juices flowing.

Fiction Titles by genre

Book Title generator by topic

Story Title idea generator

Title Ideas generator

Portent’s Idea Generator

Storytoolz Generator

Finalizing Your Book

Some authors settle on a name for their book (at least tentatively) before they even write the first line. But most authors take longer to uncover the best title for their work, finalizing this key element to their book sometime between writing the first chapter and sending their final draft to the printer.

And once your book’s title is set, consult with a cover design expert to ensure that your book’s cover presents the title with the look, feel, color scheme, and tone matching your book’s genre. The title and the cover should work together to present a unified and intriguing message to potential readers who see your book on the shelf.

And when you use an experienced printer like Publishing Xpress to take your book from concept to printed reality, you can be sure that quality materials and an easy ordering system will help you quickly get your book into the hands of the readers who will appreciate the time and effort you put into creating the perfect title to go along with your book’s compelling content. Be sure to check out Publishing Xpress when it’s time to print your book.

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