Monthly Archives: June 2013

Choosing a Title for Your Self Published Book

Lean InHere is how to choose a title for your self published book:

1. Identify Your Genre
Before you choose a title for your self published book, you should classify your book in a genre. Is your book a mystery thriller? A paranormal romance? A guide to investment strategy? The best title for your book is the one aimed at the audience that likes your particular genre.

To help you identify your book’s genre, you should find 10 books on Amazon that are similar to your book and identify the genre of these books. You should also look at this extensive list of book genres: This list of BISAC (Book Industry Standards Advisory Committee) categories are the book industry standards for book genres. Use the Amazon results and this BISAC list to fine the genre, or genres, that best fits your book.

2. Research This Genre on Amazon
Search for your genre on Amazon. Check what titles are on the best sellers in your genre. What words do they use in their title? What descriptive words do they use in the title and book description? What titles are selling?

Now brainstorm titles for your book based on these words and titles.

3. For Most Genres, use both a Compelling Title and Descriptive Subtitle
For most books I recommend using the Compelling Title and Descriptive Subtitle rule.  That is you choose a short compelling title, followed by a descriptive sub-title that explains what the short title is talking about. Here are some examples from some recently published best-selling books.

Lean In

• Lean  In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

(Lean  In is the compelling, action oriented title.   Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is the descriptive subtitle that shows that this book is for the ‘Women in Business” genre and the “Business Leadership” genre.)

• Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

(Unbroken is the compelling title that appeals to the emotion.   A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is a description of what the book is actually about.  This book is targeted toward the “History/WWII” genre.)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

• World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

(World War Z is a very interesting and compelling title.    An Oral History of the Zombie War is the description of the title that makes it clear that this book is for “Science Fiction / Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic” fans)

• The 100: Count ONLY Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Lbs. in 2 Weeks

(The 100 is a interesting title, if not compelling.   The  Count ONLY Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Lbs. in 2 Weeks subtitle makes it clear that this will appeal to the  “Diet & Nutrition / Weight Loss” fans.)

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife

• Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife

(Proof of Heaven is a very compelling title.  A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife is the descriptive subtitle.  This book is targeted toward the “Religion and Spirituality/Religion and Science” genre.)

4. For Novels, use only a Short Compelling Title and emphasize The Author Name

Novels are a frequent exception to the Compelling Title; Descriptive Subtitle rule. Often with novels you are selling the author name, not the title, so you want only a short compelling title and run the author name on the cover of the book more prominently than the title. View a few examples of novel book covers currently on the best seller list that emphasize the author over the book title:

Glen Beck - Eye of Moloch

Dan Brown - The InfernoGillian Flynn - Gone Girl

Khaled Hosseini- And The Mountains Echoed

This is done because fiction is usually sold by author, rather than topic. That is people who like Dan Brown, buy Dan Brown novels and the title isn’t as important as the author. If you are an author with an established reputation, then, use only a Short Compelling Title and emphasize your author name on the book cover.

The Parts of a Book for Self Published Authors

The Parts of a Book for Self Publishing Authors

Books are generally divided into three parts: The frontmatter, the body of the book, and the backmatter.

Keep in mind that there is no book that has all of these parts. Use this list instead to make sure you have the right content in the right category, and that elements of your book appear in the sequence in which they are expected.

Normally, unless otherwise noted, each of these items should start on a right hand page.


The Frontmatter are the pages at the beginning of a book before the body of the book. These pages are traditionally numbered with lowercase roman numerals.

Half title Page—Sometimes called the Bastard Title.  This page contains only the title of the book and is the first page you see when opening the cover.

Title Page—Contains the title, subtitle, author and publisher of the book.

Copyright Page—Is on the reverse of the Title Page, and contains the copyright notice, publisher information, the ISBN number, Library of Congress number, and printing information (usually “Printed in the United States of America”). Legal notices, credits for illustrations or cover design are also commonly listed on the page.

Dedication—Not every book carries a dedication but, for those that do, it is opposite the copyright page.  A dedication is always personal. Professional acknowledgements go on the Acknowledgements page or in the Preface.

Foreword—An introductory essay written by someone other than the author.  The Foreword is always signed, usually with the Foreword author’s name, and title.  Please note that the Foreword (literally meaning “the word before”) should never be spelled as Forward.

Preface—An introductory essay written by the author that tells how the book came into being, followed by thanks and acknowledgments to people who were helpful to the author during the time of writing.  The Preface is usually signed with the author name, place and date. .

Acknowledgments—The author expresses their gratitude for help in the creation of the book.  The acknowledgement page should not be more than 1 page.  If you have a Preface page that includes acknowledgements, then you do not need a separate Acknowledgements page.

Introduction—Here the author introduces the material that is covered in the work.  Typically, an author tells the reader what will be revealed in greater detail if they continue reading.

Table of Contents—Also known as the Contents page, this page lists all the major divisions of the book including parts and chapters and their page numbers. Depending on the length of the book, a greater level of detail may be provided to help the reader navigate the book.

Please note, you should include all your Front Matter in your Table of Contents (with the exception of the Title and Copyright Pages), even though they come before the Table of Contents.

A Table of Contents should start on a right hand page, unless it requires the use of two pages, in which case it should start on the left hand side.

Prologue—In a work of fiction, the Prologue sets the scene for the story and is told in the voice of a character from the book, not the author’s voice.


The Body is the main portion or body of the book.  These pages are traditionally numbered with Arabic numerals with page 1 beginning with the first text of the main body (which means page 1 is usually the first page of the first chapter).

Parts—Both fiction and nonfiction books are often divided into parts when there is a large conceptual, historical or structural logic that suggests these divisions.

Chapters—Most fiction and almost all nonfiction books are divided into chapters for the sake of organizing the material.


The Backmatter are the pages after the body of the work.

Epilogue or Epilog—A short essay, in the voice of the author, that brings closure to the work.

Afterword—An Afterword either covers how the book was created (in which case you would not have a Preface) or it is written by someone other than the author, seeking to put work in some wider context (often done if the work is being reissued after many years)

Postscript— The postscript is a final “PS” note at the end of a book, providing additional information that doesn’t fit as part of the story or main point of the book.

Appendix —A supplement to the main work. An Appendix typically includes referenced documents cited in the text, or articles peripherally related to the subject of the book.

Notes—If your main text requires notes to amplify or document certain passages throughout the text, please arrange the notes by chapter in a notes section.Glossary—An alphabetical list of terms and their definitions, helpful in understanding the terms referenced frequently in the book. 

Bibliography—The bibliography section lists the sources for works used in your book. Be sure to arrange the sources alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Index—An alphabetical listing of people, places, events, and subjects cited along with page numbers.  This is typically done for a scholarly, non-fiction book.

About the Author—A brief biography, nor more than 1 page, about the author.  This is typically the last page of a book and is on the left hand side.  The author biography should either be on the last page of the book, or on the cover of the book (but not both).