Great titles allow you to speak directly to your target readers — to grab their attention, set expectations, and differentiate your book. Crafting the perfect book title can be challenging, but creative thinking and patience are key. To get started learning how to title a book, grab a pen and get ready to brainstorm!
How to Come Up With a Book Title
Why do cute titles work for children’s books about ducklings, but not for biographies about serious politicians? How you title a book comes down to several factors, but most importantly the genre. Book title ideas for a love story aren’t going to look the same as a book title for a nostalgic memoir. Determining your genre is the first step on how to title a book.
How to Title a Fiction Book
From epic romances to thrilling mysteries, fiction book titles are often based on:
- A character’s name or identity
- An object, event, or detail significant to the plot
- A location / setting
- A major theme
- A significant quote or phrase
With these topics in mind, try answering the following questions about your fiction book:
Character: What is your protagonist’s name, nickname, or title? Who or what does your protagonist value most? How do other characters see your protagonist? Could any secondary characters or group of characters be considered the crux of your story?
Plot: What are the most important events in your book? What sets your protagonist on their journey? Are there any significant objects or elements that impact the story?
Setting: Does your story take place in an unusual world or significant location (literally or figuratively)?
Theme: What are your book’s main themes? Are there any common motifs in your story?
Quote / Phrase: What one sentence or quote from your book best captures its themes? Is there a phrase commonly repeated throughout the story?
Once you’ve answered these questions, play around with your answers and keywords to create your book’s title.
How to Title a Nonfiction Book
If you write nonfiction, the above topics and questions for fiction may still apply to your title. (For example, biographies and memoirs also have protagonists and plots.) But business, how-to, self-help, and other nonfiction book titles tend to focus on topic summaries and reader takeaways. For these genres, answer the following questions:
- What is your book’s topic?
- Why is that topic important or interesting?
- What is your book’s goal?
- What is your book’s main thesis or argument?
- Does your book teach any skills or principles?
- What will readers learn or gain after reading your book?
Try to identify key phrases in your answers and rearrange them into possible titles. With nonfiction books, a title/subtitle combo works especially well: describe the book topic in the title, then use the subtitle to emphasize its importance or what readers will learn.
Some Inspiration: 40 Book Title Ideas from Real Bestsellers
As you brainstorm book title ideas, consider looking up bestsellers in your genre and browsing their titles. That way, you can look for title trends, best practices, and examples. Below, you’ll find 45 book title examples across different genres.
Bestselling Fiction Book Title Ideas
- Crazy Rich Asians (character)
- Beautiful Ruins (setting)
- The Night Circus (plot)
- All the Light That We Cannot See (theme)
- Ready Player One (quote)
Thriller & Mystery
- It (character)
- Jurassic Park (setting)
- The President is Missing (plot)
- A Case of Need (theme)
- I Am Watching You (quote)
Science Fiction & Fantasy
- The Martian (character)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane (setting)
- An Ember in the Ashes (plot)
- Kindred (theme)
- A Game of Thrones (quote)
Teen / Young Adult
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (character)
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (setting)
- The Hunger Games (plot)
- The Fault in Our Stars (theme)
- Thirteen Reasons Why (quote)
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar (character)
- Where the Wild Things Are (setting)
- Dragons Love Tacos (plot)
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (theme)
- Are You My Mother? (quote)
Bestselling Nonfiction Title Ideas
- Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship (quote + topic + thesis)
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (topic + thesis)
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (quote)
- The Disaster Artist (character)
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (topic + goal)
Business, How-To & Self-Help
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (topic + lesson)
- How to Win Friends and Influence People (lesson)
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (topic + importance)
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (theme + topic)
- Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals (quote + goal)
Biography & Memoir
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (character)
- The Glass Castle (setting)
- Eat, Pray, Love (plot)
- The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir (theme)
- I’m the One Who Got Away (quote)
7 Ways to Craft a Compelling Book Title
Crafting an enticing book title is hard work, but fortunately, there are a handful of methods that can help you know just how to come up with a book title.
Clarify Your Goals
The first step to creating your book title is to clarify your goals. Hoping to draw your readers’ attention to your new romance book? Consider brainstorming some distinct cliches that will capture your audience. Aiming to inform your readers about the primary theme of your book? You may want to include a subtitle to give clarity.
Brainstorm Multiple Ideas
Having a running list of ideas can help you narrow down your intent and hone in on the perfect time. These ideas may come from internal quotes, inspiration from other books, or something your best friend said to you that felt fitting.
With so many book titles already out there, it can be quite the challenge to come up with a never-before-used book title. Once you’ve compiled your list, you’ll want to check out what’s actually available to use so you don’t run into any issues. Before you commit to an official title, check out the market.
Marketing is a huge aspect of getting your book out there, especially if you’ll be handling the marketing on your own. When choosing a perfect title for your book, consider how you’ll be able to market your work. You won’t want to choose a title that people are embarrassed to say or that has low marketing potential.
Additionally, you’ll want to include keywords in your title for marketing purposes. Think about what people may type into Google when they search for your book. Are there specific words that would likely bring your book to the front page? Try incorporating those words into your book title to be discovered on the web.
Highlight a Unique Element
What makes your book stand out against competitors? Is there a distinctive element about a character that could make for an outstanding book title? Take a look back at your work and jot down a few aspects that could make for a unique title.
If you feel settled on a book title, ask for feedback! This can be from friends, family, your editor, a beta reader — anyone who you can trust to give you honest insight on your book title. They may have suggestions that can help you along the way or confirm that your title is ready for publishing.
Title Generator Tool
If all else fails, try out a title generator tool! While this tool may not provide you with the title, it can give you a bit of inspiration as to the possibilities available. It may even offer a near-perfect title that just needs a bit of tweaking before being placed on your page’s front cover.
Characteristics of an Interesting Title
Since there are so many books lining the shelves of every bookstore, making your title interesting and eye-catching is essential. As you dive into the methods on how to title your book, you may want to take into consideration the following characteristics of a strong title that will have readers reaching for your book immediately:
- Builds interest
- Short and simple
- Easy to read
- Appeals to emotion
Browse through titles in your genre to see what is currently thriving on the market and how you too can craft a beautiful, riveting title for your book.
Make a Memorable First Impression with a Winning Title
With great titles, your book stands out on a shelf or search results page. If you’re ready to connect with readers, why not contact Gatekeeper Press for a free consultation? We offer book publication and worldwide distribution, design/editing services, your very own Author Manager, and more. At Gatekeeper Press, we know just how to title a book with award-winning intrigue.