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Need to Write a Title for Your Book? Try This.

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Updated 12.29.2023

Your manuscript is underway, which means you need to write a title for your book. The good news is that a book title is a type of headline. And there's oodles of great information available about writing headlines.

But all that headline information is a double-edged sword. Information overload can mean the process of writing your book title is overwhelming. Plus writing a perfect book title, you’ve been told, is THE most important decision you make about writing a book that gets read. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner calls your book title “the first handshake” with a reader. Writing the title is like being introduced to your future in-laws. Will you be embraced and welcomed for a nice long read … or rejected outright? No stress there.

You knew writing a book would be an all-consuming project, but the title? No one prepares you for the angst. Even if you have a working title for your book, you may wonder if you’re on the right track.

Write a title for your book using this #WritingTip with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingABook

Write a title that highlights a benefit

As in writing headlines, the challenge with writing a title for your book is simply getting started. So naturally, you set about highlighting all the informational goodness your book has to offer. You write a title that summarizes your book content.

But here’s a shocker: readers don’t care about the content in your book. They care about how that information will help them or make their lives better. Big difference.

That’s why your book title needs to offer a benefit, rather than a feature. A feature shows the reader what he gets from the book. A feature is a fact, attribute, or quality. 

A benefit, on the other hand, shows the reader what he gains from the book. It shows why your book makes a difference for the reader. It helps the reader, meets one of his needs, interests him, produces good or helpful results or effects for the reader, or promotes well-being for the reader. A benefit is an advantage or a gain with which the reader will walk away.

That’s why if you’re struggling to write a title for your nonfiction book, the best place to start is not with your content. It’s with your readers. How will your book benefit them? Try this exercise: 

  1. Write out the problem your book will solve
  2. Write out how your book solves the problem
  3. Write out why your solution makes a difference for your reader

Your list of “why my solution makes a difference” is actually a list of benefits. You want to highlight one of those in the title of your book. A good book title offers a benefit like…

  • a solution to a problem
  • an answer for the reader
  • a key the reader needs
  • a way out of a reader’s challenge
  • a curiosity that arouses a reader’s interest
  • a route to take that will make the reader’s life better
  • something the reader urgently needs
  • something the reader desperately wants

Your goal is answer the question, “How or why does the information in my book make my reader’s life better?” You may come up with more than one benefit. That’s good. In fact, that’s preferable. You’ll get to choose the best for your title and save another benefit or two for your book subtitle.

Focus on a specific benefit

Now that you’ve made a list of benefits and have used them to write a batch of possible book titles, review them. Assess how specific they are. Can your reader tell why this book will make a difference for her in particular? Let’s look at some examples of titles and talk about the benefits they offer.

“Write a Title”

This title tells you what to do. It’s a command. There may be excellent information in this book’s content, but the title doesn’t identify a specific benefit for a particular reader. It’s broad and general.

“How to Write a Title”

This one is an itsy-bitsy bit better. The content that follows will give you the step-by-step information you need to know about writing a title. But a title for what? For all you know, the book could contain information about writing out legalese for the title of a house or an automobile. The lack of specificity doesn’t address a solution to a particular problem.

“How to Write a Title for Your Book”

Much better. You’ll get the benefit of learning how to write a title. And it will be for your book, rather than for an Instagram photo. But to be honest, the title is still a bit undefined. Will the book make a difference for a researcher who wants to know how to write a title for a medical text about solving kidney disease? Or maybe it will make a difference for a writer who is putting together a children’s concept book about frogs and toads.

“How to Write a Title That Sells Your Book”

Ah! This title hits on an author’s burning interest and a solution to his problem. After all the struggle and sleepless nights he has invested in writing his book, you can be sure he wants to sell lots and lots of copies.

  • What he’ll get (feature): information about writing a title for his book
  • What he’ll gain (benefit): book sales!

How to write a title that sells your book

Are you stuck writing a title for your book?

Get started by making a list of your book’s benefits. Show your reader how her life will be better or different as a result of reading your book. Answer the “What’s In It For Me?” question.

Do that, and you’ll write a title that does more than tell your reader what she’ll get. You’ll write a title that tells her what she will gain.

More Book Writing Tips

Use this Self-Publishing Checklist for a Winning Amazon Release ...

Top Tip for Selling Your Book ...

Write a Book Subtitle That Sells Your Book ...

How to Use a Personalized Book Writing Plan to Get Your Book Done ...

Persuasive Writing Tip: How to Figure out Your Book's Benefits Quickly ...

Is it a Feature or Benefit? Take the Quiz ...

How to Write a Book Summary that Sells Your Book ...

5 Places to Find Book Ideas ...

How to Get Book Reviews For Free ...

See more tips for Writing a Book on my Pinterest board...

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