To Pick the Best Titles

August 2010
by Linda Carlson

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To Pick the Best Titles

by Linda Carlson

Titling a book can be tough. The task is complicated partly because you usually need to target several markets: readers who have already shown interest in the author or the topic by buying a book from you or otherwise, as well as readers new to your publishing company, the author, the genre, and the precise subject matter.

And then you have to consider how the title will look on the book cover, especially when the cover image is reduced to thumbnail size for print catalogs and social media sites and posted by online retailers. Plus you need to think about how the title will be truncated in wholesaler and bookseller databases, where it might place a book on retailers’ shelves, and whether it will be memorable and easy to say.

When we asked independent publishers how they select book titles, we learned that some do research, some do formal testing (often using online surveys), and some evaluate titles with help from participants in relevant workshops and classes, ads (real and mock), friends and family, in-house meetings, cover designers, sales reps, wholesalers, distributors, booksellers, librarians, authors, existing customers, potential customers, and/or gut feelings.


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