Sell More Books Using Titles That Directly Speak
To Readers Needs
In this article, the author outlines how to sell more books
by using the books title to position it relative to the competition.
Does the language used in your book titles speak directly to your
readers by focusing attention on the goals or tasks they want to
your target market wants to accomplish? The words in your book titles
can help you sell more books and find more readers by clearly identifying
the benefits your book will help readers attain. Verbs play an important
role in "commanding" your readers to take action or implying
that the benefits are already being implied.
There are two types of verbs you can use in your book titles to
target your intended market, communicate your book's benefits, and
position your book relative to the competition:
- Imperative verbs. These titles use verbs that
"command" your readers to take action in order to enjoy
your book's promised benefits.
- Gerunds. Gerund, or "action," titles
use verbs that act as nouns. These imply that action is already
Successful book titles based on imperative verbs
Imperative verbs encourage the reader to take action. These titles
do not include a noun, or subject. Instead, imperative imply that
the preceding word is "you." The "you" doesn't
need to appear in the title, because it's understood. Imperative
titles encourage prospect readers to take action, i.e., purchase
the book, by suggesting that the book will help the reader solve
a problem or achieve a goal.
Once you understand how imperative titles work, you'll find they
are far more common than you might have thought. Examples of book
titles with imperative verbs include:
Book Yourself Solid, by Michael Port. If you're a coach, consultant,
or trainer, you want your appointment book filled; you want to be
"booked solid." Using just 3 short words, Book Yourself
Solid's promise, or benefit, is immediately obvious.
Get Clients Now!, by C.J. Hayden, adds urgency to an imperative
title. Not only does the title promise coaches, consultants, and
other service providers that they can attract more clients, but
the title promises fast results.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal, by Jeffery Herman and Deborah Levine
Herman. The benefit you'll gain is immediately obvious. Note that
the terms used as common, everyday terms. Further, in place of multiple
adjectives, there's only one perfectly chosen adjective, "Perfect,"
which describes the type of book proposal you'll learn how to write.
In the above examples, the authors emphasize the benefits that
readers will enjoy by buying the book and following its advice.
But, the following book takes a slightly different approach.
Kiss Theory Goodbye, by Bob Prosen, is an example of a highly-successful
business book title based on an imperative verb. In this case, however,
Bob doesn't emphasize the benefit, Bob restricts the title to his
book's main idea, or approach. The title succeeds because it attracts
the attention of particular type of reader, those who are tired
of endless theory and little action.
In doing so, Kiss Theory Goodbye shows that book titles based on
imperative verbs can both target desired market segments and position
books relative to their competition.
Successful book titles based on gerunds
Gerund titles are identifiable by verbs ending in "ing."
These titles imply that action is already being taken, that readers
are already in the process of solving their problem or achieving
their goals. Here are some examples of book titles based on gerunds:
Writing White Papers, by Michael Stelzner. Instead of promising
to teach you how to write a white paper, the title puts the emphasis
on the process of writing white papers. The implication is that
the knowledge has already been transferred, and that all that remains
is to complete the process.
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser, is another highly-successful
book title that implies the process of effective writing. Note the
simplicity of the title, and the use of a single modifier, "well."
This is a classic book on clear and concise writing, and the title
communicates this at a glance.
Primal Branding, by Patrick Hanlon, also implies an analysis of
the branding process, with the emphasis on a single word, primal,
that identifies the author's approach.
Gerund titles can create worldwide brands for their authors, such
as Jamie Nast has done with her Idea Mapping. The title of her book,
which is close enough to the popular mind mapping term to describe
both the book's approach and the fact that she's bringing new ideas
to the topic, has been expanded into a series of seminars and workshops
presented around the world.
As you research existing books in your field online, or in bookstores,
take the time to pay particular attention to their titles--particularly
if the titles contain verbs. If verbs are present, notice whether
they're imperative verbs or gerunds--or "action" verbs.
Either approach can work, depending on the degree of urgency you
want to communicate in your title.
And, as you create a list of potential titles for your book, ask
yourself, "By adding a verb to the title, can I strengthen
my book's promise to the reader, or add urgency to the purchase
of my book?"
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