photo courtesy of Exsodus at

Well, if that name happens to be the name or title of your book – quite a lot! Of course you want a good title and your mind is traveling around in creative title circles even for your How-To book, but here’s the big thing to remember regardless of your niche or book style: You want a book title that will help sell your book. You’ve heard that you need to appeal to your target audience, that the title needs to be long and descriptive, that the title needs to be short and to the point, that it should be clever, that it shouldn’t be ‘clever’.

Get down to basics first. Here are 5 things to think about when you construct your non-fiction book title:

  1. Be clear on the purpose of your book and what you want your readers to do – your call to action for them, if you will
  2. Create curiosity or novelty with your title to set your book apart from all the other books on your subject
  3. Use a subtitle to deliver a powerful ‘benefit’ for reading your book (what will the reader feel, get, achieve, lose)
  4. Use of numbers can be powerful – usually odd numbers have a greater impact except possibly for “10” or “12” (Numbers like 100 or 1001 often feel overwhelming rather than bountiful!)
  5. Adjectives and adverbs do catch attention and motivate: Easy, Best, Proven, Step by Step, Best, New, Ultimate

To do any or all of these five things, you MUST identify and know your target audience, understand their needs, and be clear what will motivate them to take your call to action. Do they want to gain something or lose something?  Do they want to do something or learn about something? Is the subject matter ‘serious’ or enjoyable? Is your book a step-by-step how-to or a “plan”? What will it take for them to overcome their current inertia or misunderstanding or misdirection to benefit from your guidance?  What will be their biggest “get” when they do accept your guidance?

Answering these questions and then applying the 5 basic principles can get you on the path to creating a title that sells! Motivate readers to choose YOUR book from the stack rather than someone else’s!