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: http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-0-136-bisac-subject-headings-list-major-subjects.php 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: 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 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 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:
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.