Do you know how readers decide to buy a book? 1) They get a referral from a friend. 2) They see an interesting book title on the best-seller list. 3) They look up a topic (generally non-fiction) and look for a book closest to their interest (generally based on titles). 4) They browse in the bookstore looking for an interesting title ? then they read the book jacket copy. 5) They look on an Internet bookseller's website to find out what other people bought under that title or subject, then they look at book reviews. 6) Finally, generally based on title and book jacket copy or book reviews, they buy your book.
Have you ever bought a book just because of the title? I remember one time when I was browsing in a local bookstore and the book title I was looking at was so provocative; I just had to have it. It turned out to be a humor book, very funny and entertaining. But I never would have purchased the book if it weren't for the title. I wouldn't have even noticed it! Many other times I've seen ads for business books relating to marketing or sales and found an irresistible title, I simply had to have it!
Here's how a great title helped to sell 300,000 books while a poorly chosen title for the same book sold only 1500 copies. Just as a headline can make all the difference in an ad, so the title of your book, especially a non-fiction one, can make the difference between dramatic success (300,000 copies sold) and failure (1,500 copies sold). Would you like to know the secrets of what makes the difference?
For example, here are two actual titles for the same book that were tested, one against the other. One of these was a winner and the other a loser. "The Squash Book" vs. "The Zucchini Cookbook".
In this case, the second book title did better than the first (300,000 copies sold) because it was more specific, letting people know that it was about zucchini squash. It also addressed the needs of the many people who grow zucchini in their yards and don't know what to do with them all. In addition, the title, "The Zucchini Cookbook" let people know that this was a cookbook and not a book about how to grow the vegetable or some other topic related to zucchini. "The Squash Book" only sold 1,500 copies! So, does being specific sell? You won't know until you test.
This particular example underlines the importance of testing your title before you actually publish your book. Try testing several good book titles, then pick the one that did best, you'll be a lot closer to sales success than by just guessing.
An aspiring author created what he thought was a cute book title, "Swimming Chickens". Later he decided that the dismal sales of his literary effort were due to the title he had chosen so he came up with a new one. After reviewing the "hot" topics in the National Enquirer and other such publications he came up with this remarkably successful title "Lose Weight Through Great Sex With Celebrities: the Elvis Way". The book sold several hundred thousand copies and you can still find it on Amazon.com.
Do you think that only short titles sell? There are many examples of direct response marketers who have used long titles (up to 17 words) and still been very successful, often more successful than with short titles. The interesting thing is that direct marketers live or die through the success of their book sales so they test everything before they make a big sales effort.
Here's an example of a case in which a direct marketer bought the rights to an excellent book, with a very short title, that was not making money. He changed the title, then took the book from almost no sales to hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. The original losing title was "The Letter Book" and the multi-million dollar winning title was "Slash Your Letter Writing Time by 80% and Write Better Letters". Which version would you buy?
Another remarkable example of improved sales with a better title involved a self-published book called "The Entrepreneurs' Manual", which sold only 12 copies. The direct marketing savvy author renamed the book "Why SOB's Succeed and Nice Guys Fail in Business" and sold 700,000 copies over a period of several years.
When creating your book title, be sure to use important keywords if you plan to sell it online. I recently came across a book about Internet auctions that did not have the keyword eBay in the title. Even though the book received good reviews, prospective buyers overlooked it, because when someone typed in eBay, this excellent auction book did not show up. Since eBay is the premier auction site on the Internet, the keyword eBay should certainly be included in the title of any such book.
Now you have seen the power of a good book title in action. Many authors, publishers and self-publishers have used ideas similar to the ones in this article to turn book sales disasters into book sales success!
Teddi McDonald has been an Internet marketer and copywriter for over 7 years. She writes winning Internet sales copy and helps clients earn more money from their websites. Contact her through her website goal setting
Copyright 2005 Teddi McDonald
You have permission to reprint this article when the author text box and live hyperlink along with copyright are preserved intact.