Sunday, September 30, 2007

Book Cover Coaching: Book Title Copyrighting Quiz!

Take this Quiz ...
On Book Title Copyrights

By Susan Kendrick

On September 25, I promised you:
"The Copyright Quiz! What do these three bestselling books have in common?"

OK, here's the answer--the 3 current Amazon Bestsellers I'm thinking of are:
1. Blink
2. Into the Wild
3. L
ouder Than Words

And, what do they all have in common? They each have titles that also show up on other books! See what I mean, below, and how you can take away some important lessons for your books and book titles.

A Closer Look:

2005 Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
2005 Blink, by Ted Dekker

Both of these books came out in 2005. Gladwell's was already a non-fiction bestseller who has generated an international following. Dekker is a fiction thriller writer who apparently has also enjoyed great commercial success. They each appeal to non-competing markets, so no overlap there. by the way, Blink also happens to be the name of a 2003 medical thriller movie.

1996 / 2007 Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
2007 Into the Wild, by Sarah Beth Durst

Interestingly, Durst's children’s book, that shares the same name as Krakauer's now classic work, has been released in the same year as the movie release of KarKauer's book, directed by Sean Penn. While these books are clearly in non-competing markets, I'll bet that Durst’s book is getting a lot more notice than it ordinarily would as people go searching online for Krakauer's book (and finding things like this blog article as well). This usually happens to a book when the movie comes out; book sales swell dramatically as does online search activity.

2007 Louder Than Words, by Jenny McCarthy
2004 Louder Than Words, by Andy Stanley

Jenny McCarthy's new book is about her experience with her son's Autism. Stanley, a pastor, wrote a book about character and what you accomplish in life. But here's the deal with these two books. While the other book title cases above end up serving completely different markets--non-fiction vs. fiction and adults vs. children--the two Louder Than Words books are too closely related. They are both about quality of life and wellness in some way. And both were published just three years apart. These are both good enough reasons for them not to share the same title.

By the way, there are five other items listed on Amazon for this title. All are posted as "no image available" because they were published as long ago as 1976, and include two reports to the Rockefeller Foundation--not a lot of crossover or competition there. Note that there is a lot of useful information on Amazon to help you analyze book titles, book content,genres, and publishing dates, and where yours will fit in.

Each of the three duplicate book title cases above also shows the powerful effect of book marketing for a particular book. In each case, the better known of each of these book title doubles is getting the majority of the attention because it is more recent and/or because of the considerable marketing muscle behind it. Each is a case where not only did the book title make the book, but the book--and the marketing--is also making the title.

What does this mean for you?

Try your best to come up with a unique book title for your book. If you absolutely want to use a title that is already being used, make sure it is being used in a non-competing market. Also consider the company you keep. You don’t want your book listed alongside another book on a very different topic that will put you in a bad light. On the other hand, sharing Amazon space with a bestseller gives you that much more visibility when visitors go to that page. Again, just make sure you are in a non-competing book category.

Most importantly, make sure you do everything you can to create and market a book brand that gives you the lead in your market and helps you maintain and grow that lead. You never know when your title may turn up on somebody else’s book. In short, keep the golden rule in mind, and extend the same courtesy to your fellow authors that you would want them to give you.

For greater brand security, see my posting on September 25, “Copyrighting Book Titles, or Can Two Books Have the Same Name?” about how to develop an overall brand you can trademark, using the title phrase of your book.

Don't wait for your book to start getting noticed. You can get major online and media visibility for your book before it's even released. Find out how these authors did it at:

Questions? Please give us a at 715-634-4120 or email

© Copyright 2007, Susan Kendrick, Write to Your Market, Inc.

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