Great titles do one of the following;
- Promises something: the first thing about titles are that they roll out a big promise to the users that will expend a lot of time buying the book. It must let them hope for something.
- Creates interest: some titles are known for the way they get people intrigued by what the content might be. A title such as ‘The Seven wonders that will change your life’ is those that call the attention of the reader to something very intriguing.
- Does the title identify a need: great titles can make room for providing a solution to a problem many people are dealing with. It exposes their problem to them, and it is presented to them in such a way they are made to know they will get solutions to this problem.
- States the content: These books are those that will give you a brief snippet of what the book entails. They will raise your focus to something that will spur your interest in the book.
What Are Some Good Strategies for Choosing the Right Title?
Researching possible book titles is something that must be done regularly; it will help you stay expressive in your title. Look at the top twenty books in your category. What do they all have in common? I can almost guarantee that the titles are very simple. Don’t focus so much on being different, focus on being simple. For most authors, we tend to over-complicate the process. There is a saying, “Study long you study wrong.” This is true when it comes to title creation. The goal is to take what you know from research and intuition and find a happy medium that will involve your core message and keywords that will sell.
I remember when I was brain-storming title options before I knew what I know now about research and title creation techniques. One of my top choices for my first book was “The Mental Entrapment.” It sounds like a deep fantasy novel, right? It was totally off base from my target audience or genre. After all, my book is a non-fiction book about overcoming adverse situations by changing your perspective and exercising your Faith. The final title chosen was, “The Journey to Better: 10 Steps of Transforming Poverty into Prosperity.” It was probably my tenth option. The more you know the more you grow, so do your research and decide. Be careful not to get “Paralysis by Analysis” syndrome or you will be stuck in the sunken place forever….
Be Open to Thinking Outside the Box
Coming up with a catchy title is only a small percentage of the equation. That is if you are looking to sell books on a large scale. I say that because in many cases we can fall in love with a title that we can up with and be closed off to what the market calls for or demands. As mentioned before, take your message, market research, and maybe trending topics of discussion to formulate your title. An example of trending topics as at time of writing this book is the recent blockbuster movie “The Black Panther.” This movie and anything associated will be popular in years to come. So, pick a trend that will be around. Think of it like choosing a stock to invest in.
In a recent conversation with a client and business partner, I had to really break down the process. My partner and I were discussing possible titles for upcoming books and the conversation went left with my partner stating that her book would have sold more if the title were different. Now, my partner is very good at formulating ideas and writing sales copy. She can sell anything to anybody. She just tells people and they buy. The argument was that I was too process driven with my research vs. going with what feels right. I get it. Be mindful of what feels right to you may only speak to a small specific class of people, which is fine for niche marketing. However to reach more audience on a large scale you must give the market and genre what they are hungry for. That involves knowing keywords and language that speaks to them that can only be done by market research. So, like I said the goal is to combine the two to get the most out of your title.
In addition to only going off a percentage of the equation, my partner also used her experience with selling books to assume that anyone can have the same results. Remember that I said that she could sell ice to an Eskimo, so her experience will be totally different to that of an average person. She achieved more success than most authors in a lifetime would, but people don’t know what they don’t know. It is also important that you define your success before you get started. This book is about helping put yourself in a position to sell more books and operate on a larger scale. Once I dug even further the only people she reached were people she had touched in person or via social media networking. That’s great if you are Oprah. You want to be able to sell to people while you are asleep and from all over the world. The best way to do this to do your research and follow the crumbs that success have left behind.
This seemingly simple task could be one of the most important things you do to make your book discoverable to readers, especially if you’re a non-fiction writer. Why? Because you can use keywords in your title to help readers find your book.
Take a look at the titles in my Work from Home series—notice anything different?
- How to Work from Home and Make Money
- How to Build a Writing Empire in 30 Days or Less
- How to Start a Home-Based Food Business
- How to Brand Your Home-Based Business
- How to Publish a Book on Amazon
Each of these titles contain keywords that people search for on Amazon. And that helps those people discover my books because Amazon’s algorithm causes them to show up when people use the terms in their search box.
For instance, take my poorly ranking food business book. As of today, it ranks at a depressing 156,000, but if you type “food business” into the Amazon search box, it shows up as number 7 on the first page.
Why? Because of the keywords I chose to use in the title.
Remember the exercises I had you do related to keywords in the last chapter? If possible, you should include the one that is most searched for in your title. But in order for it to work, it can’t appear spammy or awkward sounding. Just include it in a way that is natural sounding and simple.
If you’re writing fiction, you won’t be able to use this technique as well, although you can include some keywords in your subtitle. For instance, if you write inspirational romance books and your novel is titled “Love Again,” you can add a subtitle and make it appear like this: Love Again: an Inspirational Romance.
Okay, once you’ve selected your title, it’s time to move on. We’re in a hurry, remember?
Create Your Table of Contents
The next thing on your list is to create a table of contents for your book. This is one of my favorite aspects of book writing, because as you create it, you’ll begin to see the possibilities in your book.
Even if you’re a fiction writer and don’t plan to have a table of contents, you’ll still need to outline your book, even if it’s only loosely, and you can do this in place of a table of contents. In that case, you would simply decide which scenes or events would take place in each chapter. At the end of this exercise you’ll have an idea of how many chapters your book will be, as well as the general outline of your story.
But if you’re writing non-fiction, you’ll need to create a table of contents so you can determine what to include in your book—and what to leave out. Here’s how to do it:
- Take a look at other books that are similar to the one you’re going to write. Study the table of contents in each of the books and determine which chapters you think are necessary and which ones aren’t. This will be the beginning of your list.
- Next, brainstorm about your topic. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. If you knew nothing about the topic, what would you want to find in the book? Include those topics in your table of contents.
- Finally, you can use free mind mapping software to help see the big picture, which may help you discover errors or something left out that should be included. It will also help you organize your chapters into a logical sequence. Tools like MindMup and MindMaple are easy to use and free.
Once you’ve created a table of contents, you will be able to write your book faster because you won’t have to spend valuable time wondering what you should write about each time you sit down at your desk. Instead, you’ll have a clear cut plan so you can immediately dive in and begin writing during your writing time.
Write the Book
Now that you’ve done the preliminary work for your book, it’s time to sit down and write it. I promised that I would teach you how to write a book in a month, while taking weekends off, and this part of the process will take the most time.
You should have been able to complete the first two steps—your title and table of contents—in a day. And if we use a 30 day month, minus 8 days for the weekends, that leaves you just 21 days to write the book.
Let’s make some assumptions about your book before we continue. If you’re writing a nonfiction book, we’ll assume the book will be about 100 pages long, which is about 30,000 words. I understand there are plenty of books on Amazon that are shorter, and if you want to write a shorter one, that’s okay. But in my opinion, it’s difficult to thoroughly cover a topic in less than 100 pages. And if you’re going to make this a career, you need to give your readers quality in every book you publish so they’ll continue to buy books from you.
If you plan to write a fiction book, your book will be longer. The very minimum word requirement for a book to be considered a novel is 50,000. And if we use the standard 300 words per page, that means you‘ll need to write 166 pages.
So, how in the world is this possible? Two words: commitment and organization.
You can choose to divide your time in a couple of ways.
Your first option is to divide up the work by word count. For instance, if you’re writing that non-fiction book, you’ll need to write 1,429 words a day (30,000 words divided by 21 days), plus do research. The average writer cranks out 700 words an hour, so you can spend a mere 2 hours a day writing. But let’s not forget the research. If you plan to research as you go along, and you stay disciplined, you should add 1 ½ hours to that, making your total writing time 3 ½ hours. In addition, I like to add in another ½ hour each day for initial editing. I always start my writing sessions by editing the work I did the previous day. It puts me in the right mindset, and it breaks down the editing process into small, more manageable chunks.
If you’re writing a novel, you’ll have to complete more words per day. On that 50,000 word book, you’ll need to write 2,380 words per day in order to finish it within 21 days. With an average of 700 words per hour, you’ll need to spend 3.4 hours per day writing. And because your research time is considerably less, you should also be able to edit the work you did the day before.
Keep in mind that I choose not to work weekends, which is why I work on a 21 day schedule, but that doesn’t mean you have to take them off. If you don’t, you can add 8 days to your schedule, which would reduce your daily word count considerably. And many writers do work weekends, including Stephen King, who even works holidays, including Christmas. He writes 2,000 words a day, everyday.
This is my preferred method of writing a book. My nonfiction books almost always contain 10 chapters, and I write a chapter a day, period. (Yes, I realize this one is considerably longer, but I wanted to write the most comprehensive book on the topic, and that took sixteen chapters.) Now, I’ve been writing professionally for a long time and have mastered the art of research and focus, so not everyone may be able to do this. But I like to tackle a subject all at once, and don’t like to stop in the middle of something and pick it up again the next day. Some of my friends call me a perfectionist, while others use words that aren’t as kind.
But if you’re a perfectionist like me, this may be the right method for you. Now keep in mind that my chapters average 3,000 words, so you’ll only be able to do this if you’ve got the time.
Why do I take a month to publish my books if I can write them in under two weeks? Because I not only write them, but I edit, format, do the cover design, get reviews, and set up promotional launches for them as well. (Don’t worry, I’ll explain how to do all of this in future chapters.)
Remember, if you write fiction, you’re likely to have more than ten chapters in your book, so this method may work better for you. Most 50,000 word novels contain almost 20 chapters, so it makes sense.
Whichever method you decide to use, you’ll need to stay focused and deeply committed if you’re going to pull it off. I got a late start today, and while my family is having dinner and talking about their day in the next room, I’m sitting here writing this chapter. You want to know why? Because not only do I believe it’s important to stick to the schedule I made for myself, but I also don’t want to start the day tomorrow doing what I should have done today. I guess that’s the um…perfectionist in me.
Now, before we move on to the next chapter, I’d like to give you some tips that will help increase your productivity as you embark on this major feat.