A word like acim can be misconstrued as a noun or verb, and a word like “read” can be misread depending on its context. Ask yourself if your title has any words that could be misread before you settle on them.
If your title is “Estate Planning,” chances are seven other people have already used that title, and if people go online to find your book, they may end up buying another author’s book rather than yours. Be sure to do an online search for your title to see whether anything comes up. If you find other books with your title, pick a different title.
Reserve Your Title’s Domain Name
When making sure your title is original, also check to see whether your book title is being used for a website. Probably Estateplanning.com is already taken. Furthermore, if someone has a website with your book title’s name, then what is your website going to be? You can use your own name for the website, but that won’t work if you have a fairly common name like Kevin Smith or Michael Johnson since those websites are already taken too. You want to pick a title without a website already taken so you can purchase that domain name. And if you settle on a title and the domain name isn’t yet taken, buy it today. Don’t wait or you may lose it. Your book title is what people are going to use as a search term and you want that title to lead them directly to your website so you can sell them your book.
If you feel your title needs more explanation, a subtitle is a good idea, provided it’s not there just for show. But don’t let that stop you from having fun.
For example, Dickens’ novel “Martin Chuzzlewit” actually has a long, humorous title we would probably qualify as a subtitle today: “The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit: His Relatives, Friends, and Enemies, comprising All His Wills and His Ways, with an Historical Record of What He Did, and What He Didn’t: Showing, Moreover Who Inherited the Family Plate, Who Came In for the Silver Spoons, and Who for the Wooden Ladles. The Whole Forming a Complete Key to the House of Chuzzlewit.”
Beyond humor, a subtitle can reinforce a catchy but vague title. For non-fiction books, a subtitle can provide a lot of clarity as shown below.
Use “-ing” and “How to” Appropriately
Anytime you write a non-fiction self-help book, it’s best to avoid “How to” in the title. Save that for the subtitle.
A title “How to Overcome Adversity” sounds less interesting than “Overcoming Adversity: How to Surmount Life’s Obstacles with Ease.” Similarly, that nasty preposition “of” can often be resolved with an “-ing” word. “The Discovery of the Loch Ness Monster” will be more effective as “Discovering the Loch Ness Monster.”
Whatever you are showing people how to do, use the “-ing” form of the verb and then move the “How to” to the subtitle. Retaining the “How to” will make it clear to readers you are going to help them, which tells the reader the benefit of the book. It’s always good to let readers know with a non-fiction book how they will benefit. But don’t limit yourself to “How to.” Phrases like “Your Guide to” or “Your Solution to” are also effective.
Show the Benefit with a Non-Fiction Title
Besides “How to” in a Subtitle, using “You” or “Your” is also effective. For example:
“The Million Dollar Mom: How You Can Be a Parent and Still Have It All”
“For What It’s Worth: Your Guide to Evaluating Stocks and Bonds”
Both examples address the potential reader, letting her know this book is for her, and it clarifies not only what the book is about, but also that the book offers a benefit to the reader. It will make the reader’s life better somehow.