Your Title: What Are You Promising Your Reader?

An intriguing title helps hook your reader because they want to solve the mystery.
This title promises a gruesome look at history. The cover art assures you that it is also humorous.

What do you consider when you title your book?

We know that a title has to tease and tempt the reader.  If it doesn’t, they won’t check it out.  We’ve missed our first opportunity to hook them.

This is why you see intriguing titles like Dinosaurs without Bones.  You see that and wonder what fossilizes other than bones and what dinosaurs didn’t have bones anyway.

I’ve been researching a new book project for about two weeks now.  Not only am I seeking out source material, I’m also reading the competition and, honestly, there may be books out there but I’m not too worried.  Why?  Because so many of the books that I’m finding make promises that they fail to keep.

I’m not going to name specific books because I don’t want to pan someone else’s work.  And, I’m not sure who is coming up with the titles for the books that I’m reading – maybe it is the editor.  Maybe it is marketing.

Whoever comes up with these titles, they understand how young readers think.  They know that young readers, especially boys, like topics that are a little gross and a little skewed.  That’s what they promise in the title, but then they don’t deliver.

Take the title  How They Croaked.  The title promises the reader a book about death and this particular book delivers.  This a nonfiction title about how various people died — always famous people and always in a slightly off, often icky, way.

If you had a book called The Germs that Changed History, potential readers would pick it up thinking that it would be a book about plagues or epidemics.  Fail to deliver and you will lose your readers.

Fortunately, I already have the title for my book and it is keeping me on the straight and narrow.  I know that what I write has to fit that title.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a promise to keep.



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