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.