Selecting a title that perfectly represents the contents of your book and is going to appeal and communicate to your audience in only a few words is a daunting task.
It is interesting to note that a title is not subject to copyright law, so there can be many books with the same title. Even one that is particularly clever or seems to be unique to that book or author could be used by another author. There are probably hundreds of books entitled Trees.
Most nonfiction books have a title between three and five words long, with an added subtitle that goes into more detail about the subject of the book.
Your book title not only has to express meaning in a marketing-savvy way, but it has to be computer-search-friendly as well. You want your book to be found when anyone does a Google™ search on the important words in your title—especially if you’ve written a how-to book.
For instance, if you have written a book on business plans, you might think there are too many books called How to Write a Business Plan or something similar, so you decide to call it It’s Hard to Think Ahead: How to Plan for People Who Hate to Plan. It’s likely that someone who wants to find information on business planning would search Google, Amazon.com, or a library or bookstore online catalog for “business plans” or “business planning” or “how to write a business plan” and never find your book. As innovative as your title may be, if it can’t be found by your audience when they need it, it doesn’t achieve its purpose.
A good title for a nonfiction book has a main title of three to five words and then a longer subtitle, starting with “How to…” or “The five steps to….” These are general rules, of course, and many great titles don’t follow this formula. But start with the rules and see what develops over time.
Most authors have a title they love or at least some ideas for titles before they start writing. Jot them all down, and keep honing them as you write. The title has to be exciting enough to draw interest, but it must also accurately represent what the reader will find in the book.
Don’t get stuck worrying about the perfect title at this time in the process. The longer you work on the book, the more likely just the right title will reveal itself over time.