Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Creating Book Titles--From Working Title to Final Title

Is Your "Working Title" a Winner ...
Or, Does It Still Need Work?

By Susan Kendrick

Recently, our friend John Eggen of Mission Publishing, a Division of The Mission Marketing Mentors, Inc., asked us to help him answer a question for one of his members about when to finalize a working book title. This is an interesting question, especially coming from John, because he does a lot to teach authors and experts how to monetize their books before they are even completed, and a good working title is an essential tool for doing this. However, John is also adamant about quality and using only a really good working title, then making sure that the final title you decide on is the absolute best for you, your topic, your market, and your revenue goals.

Here, then, is the question from John's mentoring program member and our answer.


When Should I Finalize My Book Title?"

“My book is about how living organizational core values drives success -– profits and otherwise. I’ve interviewed 14 companies who practice living their core values and have “synthesized” 5 practices underlying living core values. I have my working title, (and it is available), but the subtitle is a work in progress. I’m working on pre-sales opportunities through speaking. People keep asking about buying the book and I need to have my website up, but I don’t even have the first draft done yet. My question is, how do I know when to lock in on the final book title? The target date for the book release is January 15, 2010.”


First, Understand the Purpose of a Good Working Book Title

Just as there is expert status associated with being the author of a published book, there is a similar status involved in getting out there with news of your "forthcoming" book. Therefore, using a good working title to promote your book while you are firming up plans for your book cover does many important things for you and your book.

A good working book title enables you to talk about your "forthcoming" book in a concrete way, in your emails, on your blog, on your website, in speaking presentations, and through your consulting. In this way, it lets you start building a loyal following for your unique ideas and approach to your topic. A good working title can also help you reach out to joint venture partners who will ultimately be very important to your promotion and sales efforts. In fact, since you are still writing the book, you have the flexibility to mention or quote these experts in your book, a great incentive for them to get behind you and your message.

How to Know When It's Time to Finalize Your Book Title

But, your working title and subtitle can take you just so far. The question remains ... when do you need to settle on the final title and how do you know if it’s a winner? The answer is that you need a firm title and subtitle to move onto the book cover design stage, and you need at least a front cover to start pre-selling the book on your own or other websites. So, when your book-in-progress starts getting enough exposure through speaking engagements and other channels that people are excited about it and want to buy it, it’s time to take these next steps forward. You earn income from early sales and build on the marketing momentum that you have created.

Simple logistics also come into play. If your target release date is January 15, 2010, you will need to count back through all the publishing production steps—from printing as the final step to creating your title as the first step—to determine exactly when your title must be finalized in order for you to meet that release date. You can download a Free Book Cover Timeline that outlines these steps and how long they take at http://WriteToYourMarket.com/submitformfreetimeline.html.

Is Your Working Title a Winner ... Or, Does It Still Need Work?

To tell if your working title is a winner or still needs more work, check your title against the criteria below. The subtitle should also help clearly define your target audience, what they get out of it, and even how that happens. In the case of a book with a specific number of practices or steps, for example, incorporate that into your subtitle. Specifics sell. And, clarity beats cleverness any day. Your title and subtitle should create a powerful one-two punch that draws in your target audience on contact and makes them want to know more.

The Book Title Checklist

Use this quick-start checklist to see if your working book title measures up or if you need to either rethink or fine-tune it:

• Your title or your subtitle contains a keyword or keywords related to your topic
• The title is easy to say, hear, remember, and talk about
• Your book title is clear and concise, i.e. no one who hears about it or sees it, regardless of their background, will go, "Huh?"
• The title stands out from other books on this topic because of some unique feature or benefit
• It is not already taken--book titles can’t be copyrighted, but you don’t want your book confused with another one out there
• Experts in the area of book covers and book marketing give you a thumbs up
• It will give you the flexibility to create a series of related books, products, and services
• Your book title captures the attention of your target audience, which you can determine either by a focus group or online tools like Google AdWords
• Your book title creates a defining brand that will grow your reputation and your overall business

My book cover writing partner, Graham Van Dixhorn, and I create book titles, subtitles, series names, back cover copy, and more for a wide range of non-fiction books, authors, and experts. If you would like help with your book title or would like feedback on your working title, please email us at info@WriteToYourMarket.com
or call 1-888-634-4120.


Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.writetoyourmarket.com/, 1-888-634-4120.

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