Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Title Hijinx

I wrote this piece for the July issue of our in-house newsletter, COLOPHON...but I think it is worth repeating and sharing....

With thousands of new books hitting the market each month, it's more important than ever to choose a title that makes your book stand out and also makes it easy to find on internet sites where books are listed.

Lately, I've been studying the name game. Although most OTP books went to press with the titles the authors selected, there were a few where I felt the title had to be changed.

However, I have moments these days when I think the title is more crucial than the cover design because it's easy for a title to become "lost" in the many data bases where books are listed.

Try typing your title into Amazon, then noting how many citations are listed. Now think of the citation listing as being similar to a Google listing...how often do you click page 50? Page 10 even? Industry stats say that most viewers don't go to the second page of a Google search. What if this were true on Amazon or BN.com?

If your book title is ranked 20th, or worse, 200th, in a list, the likelihood is great that someone searching for your book will give up long before he finds it.

If your book hasn't gone to press yet, it's a good idea to revise your title. Perhaps a minor change will make a big difference. Try variations and see what comes up before you create a totally new title.

If your book has already been printed, there are ways around this. Although it is possible to revise a title, the costs involved would be considerable, plus there would be other pesky details to conquer, so much so that I'd wonder it it were worth it. However, if your title doesn't pop up high on the list, you will want to educate people on how to search for it.... for example, you can type in the title and the author name (Dogs Of My Heart Billie Johnson) and it's much more likely the right book will pop up high in the list. On Amazon, the "Advanced Search" option lets you use more specific information including ISBN and publisher, which helps, and also searching by the author name
will bring up a narrow list.

The point is that, while there are tactics that work just fine, the real hurdle in this, as in other forms of book promotion, is educating the reader to zero in on YOUR title.


Katie Hines said...

Your post about the best title for a book was interesting. I was one of the fortunate ones whose publisher didn't change the title.

Susan Brassfield Cogan said...

Following your advice I just googled "Heart of the Tengeri" and it was all of the first 10 links and all but one or two of the next 10. This is good to know, thank you!

Marilyn said...

Never thought about titles in quite that context. I always try to find titles that more or less fit the book, or might intrigue someone to buy the book.


Beth Groundwater said...

Good advice! I changed my first book's title from "Basket Case" to "A Real Basket Case" before it was published so it wouldn't have the same title as Carl Hiaasen's book. I sure wasn't going to try to compete with him! Love his books, by the way.

Joy said...

I agree, a title is very important. Our book "Zooprise Party / Fiesta Zoorpresa" has gotten lots of positive comment sbecause it's different and yet tells you exactly what the book is about, a surprise party at the zoo and it's in two languages.

Joy Delgado