Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Titles that Grab Attention

Coming up with a good book title is difficult, at least for me. Ideally, you want the title that will grab a buyer’s attention in three or so words. The title is actually only half of a selling partnership. The cover and title work together to entice a purchase. People do judge a book by its cover and the cover entails an image with a few words. If either appears incongruent, buyers move on to the next offering.

Constitutional convention historical novelMy favorite is Tempest at Dawn. Since the book is a dramatization of the Constitutional Convention, I wanted the title to sound like a novel, not a nonfiction history book. The cover design put the title in context: a stormy sky over the Pennsylvania State House flying a thirteen star flag. For me, the title evokes a troubled nation at its founding, but some, who otherwise raved about the book, criticized the title as unrelated to the story. I still like it.

In my Western series, I wanted the sub-title prominent to remind readers there were more Steve Dancy Tales, so I chose simple titles that include: The Shopkeeper, Leadville, Murder at Thumb Butte, The Return, and Jenny's RevengeI’m currently working on Crossing the Animas





The covers are black and white because I wanted a design that indicated that these were a different type of Western: different from books with loud and colorful cover illustrations showing action or looming violence. The series has been very successful, so hopefully this is partly due to the covers and titles because I intend to continue the pattern for the remaining books in the series.


My approach will not work for everyone, but viewing the cover design and title together as a selling unit will garner sales. For a confirming case study, read about my blunder with The Shut Mouth Society.

By the way, The Meta Picture has a fun article titled “These Books Actually Exist,” which lists 20 outrageous titles and covers. Wonder how some of these sold.

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