How to Come Up With Attention-Getting Book Titles (Part 1)

Guest post by Melody Spier

Coming up with catchy titles seems to be the hardest part for many writers. Yet, nothing is more important than a strong title. The title is the first thing that captures reader attention. If it can ‘hook’ consumers, they keep reading. If not, they move on to the next book.

Ask 100 authors, editors, and publishers what makes a great book title, and you’ll get 100 different answers. It’s all subjective. What one person likes, another may not. In my opinion, a great title will do one of three things. It will be intriguing. It will make an attainable promise. Or it will identify a certain desire or need.

Create Intrigue

Creating intrigue in your title is a great way to capture a reader’s attention. It will make them want to read the book to find out more. When creating intrigue, it’s important to be specific. Don’t make your title so broad that it’s boring.

For example, the title “How to Get Fit” is too broad and boring. It doesn’t capture reader attention. However, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” makes people take notice and keep reading to discover the benefits of being shy and watching from the sidelines. “Everything I Know About Zombies, I Learned in Kindergarten” is another book title that makes readers wonder what could be in the book.

To pique curiosity, you can pair words or phrases that don’t generally go together. Consider “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Devil Wears Prada.” Both book titles make consumers stop and think “what?” which prompts them to hit the read more or buy buttons. You can also put a twist on phrases such as “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” or “Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies.” While I haven’t read either one, both captured my attention when scrolling through Amazon books. They made me curious enough to stop and read the description.

Make an Attainable Promise

The key to making a book title promise effective is to make the promise attainable. Nothing will turn a consumer away faster than including an unrealistic promise. “Change Your Mind, Change Your Body” is an attainable promise. You know how powerful the mind is and with the right mindset, you can change anything. On the flip side, “Lose 30 Pounds in 10 Days” is not realistic. Most consumers would know promise is impossible and potentially unhealthy.

A book title that states a promise often includes a subtitle that elaborates. This good strategy ensures people know what they’re getting if they buy. For example, “Change Your Mind, Change Your Body” is the book title but the subtitle says “How to Have Permanent Weight Loss Success for a More Confident and Happier You.” The subtitle tells what makes the book unique, while it evokes visualization and emotions. You can picture yourself being thinner, more confident, and happier.

When making a promise, avoid overused words such as “Revolutionary,” “Amazing,” “Life-Changing” and “6-Figure” … the words you hear in the “As Seen on TV” ads. You may think your idea is revolutionary or amazing but someone else has said it or done it before. The information may be life changing or you may be able to reach a 6-Figure income; but the phrases have been frequently used on material that under delivered. Rather than create awe, they often cause a negative reaction to your book.

Identify A Desire or Need

Readers look for information that addresses their wants or needs. They want solutions written by someone who understands and is an expert on the topic. Hopefully, you did this research before writing your book. If so, it should be easy to inject the information into your book title.

“Post Traumatic Success” is a title that identifies the need to overcome PTSD. “Breaking the Cycle” also identifies a need to change a pattern. Consider the ultimate goal related to the need. Play with related words until you find the right pairing.

As with making a promise, a subtitle is used to expound on the book’s title or subject matter. “Total Recovery: Breaking the Cycle of Chronic Pain and Depression” is a good example of this. The desire is total recovery. The need is to break the cycle of chronic pain and depression.

Stating The Facts

Some book titles simply state what the content is about and nothing more. “Performing Under Pressure” is one I saw recently. “How to Win Friends & Influence People” is another, and it’s a great book if you like to read. “How to Write Children’s Books” tells the reader exactly what they’ll learn from the book.

As you can see, these titles state what the content is about. They may or may not have a subtitle.


Some book titles are built on clichés, seemingly lacking originality. Titles like “The Art of ___,” “The Secrets of ___,” and “___ for Dummies” are good examples. Now, that isn’t to say they don’t work. It’s all a matter of timing. Like many things, clichés come and go. They’ll be popular for a while. They’ll become overused and disappear for a while, only to reappear a few years later.

When the ‘dummies’ or ‘soup for the soul’ books were top sellers, if you had you titled your book similarly, consumers would have picked it up because of the familiarity of the name. Their popularity has faded somewhat, making way for newer clichés such as “50 shades of ___”, which I’m already sick of seeing. But if you watch, you’ll see the phrase gain popularity again in a few years.

If you use a cliché in your book title, research what’s popular now and what is overused. Determine if a comeback is on the horizon or if it has already had a painfully overdue demise.

Next time, we’ll go through 7 steps to creating an attention-grabbing book title.

About the Author: Virtual assistant, project manager and PLR seller. One customer recently told her, “You’re everywhere!” Learn more about Melody Spier at

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