Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Discoverability...picking the right title

In my continuing series on discoverability I turn now to titles. I was reading a great post by Kevin McLaughlin where he lays out 6 things you need (You can read the full article on his site - which is worth a read but as they say in the Princess Bride...."I'll sum up".

  1. You must have a great cover.
  2. You must have a great blurb.
  3. You must have an outstanding sample.
  4. You must have a good price.
  5. You must have a compelling book.
  6. You must write other books.
He makes the very astute observation that when someone first comes across you:

"That’s all you have for advertising – just your cover and title."

Many people put a lot time an effort, as they should, into creating a great cover - but do you put just as much time into thinking about the title?

Most authors come up with their book’s titles very early in the writing process with no thought about marketing. It could even be, that at the time they were planning on publishing it through a big house and figured they would take care of that (and they will). But if you are self-published, or have a publisher willing to work with you on title then you should be thinking about this.

When I come up with a title the first thing on my mind is: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which basically means how likely is it to find your title using Google. For instance, one of Michael’s early books had a working title of “Wizards” but I would never release a book with that title. It is much too broad and would be nearly impossible to get dominance. If you type Wizards into Google right now there are 83,900,000 results. We selected the titles for Michael’s books very carefully. For instance if you Google Nyphron Rising, it returns 7,400 links and while I’ve not gone through all of them, I did looked through the first 10 pages (100 entries) and each one was related to Michael’s third book. This title has great SEO. Even if all you remembered was the Nyphron part you still get all entries related to Nyphron Rising.

The other issue with title selection has to do with what it conjures in people’s mind. I’m currently helping a new author with his thriller book. It is a about a female CIA agent who is after a criminal who starts off with a simple crime and escalates the stakes with each one. At each crime scene a card is left behind saying, “This was my xx crime, the next one will be bigger.” Taped to the card is a stick of gum (the first crime was stealing that pack of gum). The author’s title is, The Bubble Gum Thief. I really don't like this conjures (for me) a kid's book featuring Scooby Doo or Encyclopedia Brown Boy Detective. So I would definitely re-title this before release.

If your book is in a series there are other things to consider. Can you tie them together in some way? When Orbit told us they would release Michael's six-book Riyria Revelations series as a trilogy the obvious question was - what do you call them? Michael took a step back and asked himself what was at the core of each. The first two books both revolve around stealing a sword. The second two books around a newly formed empire, and the last two about the lost heir of a forgotten time. To tie these together he decided to make each one be three words with "of" in the middle. Hence was born:

  • Theft of Swords
  • Rise of Empire
  • Heir of Novron
He proposed it to Orbit and they loved it and ran with it.

But what about the title of the series? How can you leverage this? Ridan inherited a few series (signed authors that were previously published) and their titles did little to nothing to enhance the series. Leslie Ann's Moore's Griffin's Daughter Trilogy is simply the name of the first book with Trilogy tacked on the end. Similarly Marshall Thomas's Soldier of the Legion Series is, once again the first book in with Series tagged on. Ugh! What were the previous publishers thinking of?

Again, looking to Michael's books his are entitled The Riyria Revelations. There are several things going on here. First "Revelations" is used to indicate that there are secrets and mysteries that will be revealed through the course of the books. And Riyria is the name used by the two main protagonists to refer to them as a single unit (Riyria is elvish for "two"). Riyria is also SEO friendly (75,300 - and again all relating to Michael's books).

Here's a big secret about B&N's search engine - it's pretty primitive. Selecting of categories doesn't help you out very much as it works primarily on titles. So...when posting your nook titles be sure to add a short descriptive phrase. For instance, if you search for: Military Science Fiction in B&N you get:
  • #1 - The Forever War
  • #3 - Solder of the Legion
  • #4 - March of the Legion
  • #5 - Cross of the Legion
  • #6 - Secret of the Legion
  • #7 - Slave of the Legion
Magic? Nope - I've just added, "a military science fiction adventure" to the title of each book. BTW - this is a "loophole" that B&N may plug at some point but for now it's worth using. But let's say they won't allow such "tagging" int the title in the future? Well if your series was named, "The Path Finder Epic" then you will still be found when someone types in that they are looking for Epic Fantasy.

Title choice is just one of a myriad of issues that has to be thought of from a “publishers” standpoint and not a “writers.” So if you don’t start out by changing your mindset early you’ll make a ton of small mistakes along the line that will all add up in the long run.

The morale of this story is use every tool available to you. Think of ways you can maximize every aspect related to your book. It is strategic thinking such as this that will help you get ahead of the pack.


Chris said...

The Bubblegum Thief... by Nora Wrigley

One killer, one gum shoe ... one sticky situation!

Chong Go Sunim said...

I couldn't agree more about the importance of good covers and titles. After several years of watching people at the Frankfurt bookfair, I can tell you with confidence that a book has about half a second to attract someone's attention.

If it does that, they'll focus on it for one or two more seconds. If they still like it, they may pick it up and glance at the blurb. If the blurb is good, they'll open the book and take a look at the contents. Then they'll give it 3-4 seconds to see if they like it. It really does take a quality cover, title, blurb, and layout to get people to the point of even considering the contents.

(The page layout is something that I think has been largely sacrificed lately, especially with ebooks, but a good layout can really make a huge difference in how easily the text draws you in.)

Congratulations, by the way, on signing Joe Haldeman! My jaw dropped when I saw that "The Forever War" was now one of your books. And it has a great cover!

Mel Chesley said...

Well, that is how I usually buy a book, by looking at the title. If it doesn't catch my attention, sometimes I will flip to the back and read the blurb. But writing my own stuff, I am finding it difficult to come up with a good title. I hate when the title has nothing to do with the book.

Anonymous said...

Hi!!! Nice forum. This my first post.

Unknown said...

Brilliant advice about picking a title with SEO in mind - I did not realize what a role this played in a book's online visibility. Thanks for sharing, Robin!

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

I've been wanting to write a Monday Marketing post on my own blog on precisely this subject so your article this past week showed up just in time to spark my thinking. I'll be linking to it, unquestionably!

@Chris, OMG, you crack me up!! Are you sure Nora Wrigley's not related to Nora Roberts because sticky situations and gummy shoes (or gummy bears, I always get them confused) are a Nora Roberts forte. She DOES come up in the search results on pretty much any and all books ever searched. Since she has more than 300 titles in print and over 300 million copies sold, it'd be kind of hard NOT to run into her books in search results remotely related to gum, thieves, Nora and killers. Except it'll be her "as" J.D. Robb ;-)

Robin Sullivan said...

@Chris - that is great!!

@Chong - You are so right - and thanks bout J. Haldeman - yeah my jaw dropped when I got that one for sure. And I'm glad you like the cover - we did up 3 or 4 of them - and this was my favorite. As always Michael was the artist.

@ME - marketing people live and die by SEO. I always start by thinking there first.

@Webbiegirrl - glad it was timely for you.

Anonymous said...

If you're in a very remote site, obtaining a photo voltaic ability offer comprehensive off the grid is useful, in case you are nearer, placing it around the grid tends to make perfect utilization of the program, therefore you are guarded just in case of failure. They've watched the news and they've seen that solar panels and windmills can power streetlights, but they're skeptical that they can meet their needs without industrial-sized
equipment (which will require a whole lot of paperwork with your
government, subdivision, etc. Here's a short list of approaches to remaining focused and staying far removed from problems.

Feel free to surf to my blog: solaranlage

Anonymous said...

When you have chosen your plastic surgeon, schedule a consultation so that you can get a better idea of what the procedure entails.
Article Source: tested cream is a inexpensive and
fast way to remove cellulite. There may be a new
and innovative cellulite treatment available now: cryotherapy.

My weblog; Stretch mark removal

Anonymous said...

However, before making the payments, you can ask the
service provider about the time frame, in which they will be able to deliver the views.
When you want to give the appearance that you have a lot of
views for your video, buy Youtube views. It's best to put an unobtrusive scroll at the bottom or top of the video throughout the entire song that gives this sort of information, as that way it kind of gets drilled into the listener's head.

My blog: get more views on youtube

Anonymous said...

Good information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon).
I have saved as a favorite for later!

My site ... Cheap NFL Jerseys

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really loving the template/theme of this blog. It's simple, yet effective.
A lot of times it's very hard to get that "perfect balance" between superb usability and visual appeal. I must say you have done a very good job with this. Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Safari. Exceptional Blog!

My site; Converse 2013

Anonymous said...

We're a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with helpful information to work on. You have done a formidable task and our whole community can be thankful to you.

My web-site :: Air Max

Anonymous said...

I delight in, cause I found just what I used to be having
a look for. You've ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

Have a look at my web-site; Air Max Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board
and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.
I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

Here is my homepage:

Anonymous said...

What's up to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more from this web site, and your views are pleasant in support of new viewers.

Review my webpage ... nfl jerseys cheap

Anonymous said...

I read this piece of writing completely about the comparison of latest and
earlier technologies, it's remarkable article.

Here is my web-site -

Anonymous said...

Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for
my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having problems finding one?
Thanks a lot!

Also visit my weblog ... Cheap Louis Vuitton Bags

Anonymous said...

I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work
and reporting! Keep up the fantastic works guys I've incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll.

Review my weblog ... Abercrombie and Fitch

Anonymous said...

Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your
site and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your
blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access
consistently fast.

Check out my page: Michael Kors Handbags

Anonymous said...

Hi there, after reading this remarkable paragraph i am also cheerful to share my know-how
here with colleagues.

my website ... Cheap NFL Jerseys

Anonymous said...

Every weekend i used to go to see this web site, because i wish for enjoyment, since
this this web site conations genuinely pleasant funny data too.

Here is my page - Abercrombie And Fitch

Anonymous said...

You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic
to be actually one thing that I think I might never understand.
It seems too complex and very extensive for me. I'm looking forward on your next post, I'll try to get the
hang of it!

Also visit my weblog Kris Letang Authentic Jersey

Anonymous said...

My brother recommended I might like this blog. He was totally right.

This post actually made my day. You cann't imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

my page: Abercrombie Fitch Belgique

Anonymous said...

Your cuгrent write-up features confirmed helpful to
me peгsonally. It’s really eԁucаtional
and you aгe clеаrly extremеly wеll-informeԁ of this
type. Yоu have еxposed our face to different vіeωs on this kіnd of matteг
with intriguing, notable and solid агtiсleѕ.

Fеel fгeе to surf to my ωeblog .
.. valium

Anonymous said...

After exploring a few of the blog articles on your site,
I seriously appreciate your way of writing a blog. I book-marked
it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking
back soon. Take a look at my web site as well and let me know your opinion.

my website: Converse Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

Excellent site you've got here.. It's difficult to find high-quality writing
like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you!
Take care!!

Have a look at my blog post ...

Anonymous said...

I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your website. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes
it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often.
Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

Also visit my web site; Wholesale NFL Jerseys

Anonymous said...

Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped
me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped

Feel free to surf to my website: Louis Vuitton Outlet

Anonymous said...

We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.

Your web site provided us with helpful information to work
on. You have done a formidable process and our whole group shall be thankful to you.

Here is my weblog :: Borse Gucci Ufficiale

Anonymous said...

Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets
I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter
updates. I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

My web-site: Mario Lemieux Black Jersey

Anonymous said...

Great article.

My web site ... Click Here

Anonymous said...

Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your website, how could
i subscribe for a weblog site? The account aided me a applicable deal.
I have been a little bit familiar of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

Also visit my web page ... Gafas Oakley

Anonymous said...

It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you simply shared this useful info with us.
Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

Also visit my web site :: Michael Kors Canada

Anonymous said...

Good way of explaining, and good article to obtain information concerning my presentation topic, which i am going to
deliver in academy.

Feel free to surf to my blog ... Louis Vuitton Purses

Anonymous said...

This piece of writing is genuinely a nice one it helps new net people, who are wishing in favor of blogging.

Here is my web blog: Montre Guess

Anonymous said...

Asking questions are in fact pleasant thing if you are not understanding something completely, but
this article presents fastidious understanding yet.

Feel free to visit my web-site: Louis Vuitton Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

Hey are using Wordpress for your blog platform? I'm new to the blog world but I'm
trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding expertise to make your own blog?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Here is my blog: Abercrombie Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

It's truly very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on Television, thus I only use the web for that reason, and obtain the latest news.

Here is my web page :: Air Max One

Anonymous said...

Hi to every one, since I am in fact eager of reading
this weblog's post to be updated on a regular basis. It contains good information.

Here is my web page: Abercrombie Paris

Anonymous said...

Thank you for some other informative site. The place else may just I get that kind of info written in such an ideal means?
I've a undertaking that I'm simply now running on, and
I've been on the look out for such information.

Feel free to surf to my weblog ... Michael Kors

Anonymous said...

I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

Look at my web page; Chaussures De Football Pas Cher

Anonymous said...

This is a topic which is close to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

my web site Louis Vuitton Outlet

Anonymous said...

I used to be suggested this website through my cousin. I'm now not positive whether or not this put up is written by means of him as no one else realize such targeted about my problem. You're wonderful!

Feel free to surf to my web site:

Anonymous said...

Hiya! I just want to give a huge thumbs up for the good data you may have here on this post.
I shall be coming again to your weblog for more soon.

my webpage: semicolon list after colon

Anonymous said...

Good post. I will be dealing with a few of these issues as well.

Look into my webpage; Recommended Site

Anonymous said...

Hello to every , because I am in fact keen of reading this web site's post to be updated daily. It consists of pleasant data.

My web-site: Tory Burch Shoes

Anonymous said...

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I'll be subscribing to your
feed and I hope you write again soon!

Have a look at my blog post ... Read Full Article

Anonymous said...

I visited various blogs but the audio quality for audio songs present at this website is truly wonderful.

Feel free to surf to my site :: Home Page

Anonymous said...

I am actually grateful to the owner of this web page who has shared this great post at

Look at my weblog :: Visit Website

Anonymous said...

Hiya! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice information you will
have right here on this post. I can be coming again to your
blog for extra soon.

Visit my web page :: semi trucks for sale in texas used

Anonymous said...

I think that is one of the so much vital information for me.

And i am satisfied reading your article. However wanna remark on some common issues, The web site taste is ideal, the articles is truly excellent : D.
Excellent activity, cheers

my blog; Nike Air Max

Anonymous said...

I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But
maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people
could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot
of text for only having one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

Also visit my web blog Air Max UK **

Anonymous said...

It's a shame you don't have a donate button!
I'd certainly donate to this excellent blog! I guess for now i'll settle for
bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
I look forward to brand new updates and will share this website with
my Facebook group. Chat soon!

Feel free to surf to my webpage - Kobe Bryant Shoes 2013

Anonymous said...

Hi, its pleasant article on the topic of media print, we all be familiar with media
is a wonderful source of data.

Visit my webpage: Cheap Jerseys

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that's both equally educative and amusing, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something relating to this.

Also visit my web page ... Air Jordan Pas Cher ()

Anonymous said...

Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

Feel free to visit my blog post: Cheap NFL Jerseys []

Anonymous said...

hi!,I like your writing so much! proportion we be in contact
more about your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this space to solve my
problem. Maybe that's you! Looking ahead to peer you.

Visit my blog post Sac Louis Vuitton

Anonymous said...

Thanks for finally talking about > "Discoverability...picking the right title" < Liked it!

Feel free to surf to my homepage; Air

Anonymous said...

Hello to all, how is everything, I think every one is getting more from this web site,
and your views are nice in favor of new visitors.

Here is my webpage; Sac Guess Pas Cher []

Unknown said...

No longer waiting to become famed today. Buy Facebook Followers as a tactic to acquire fame and acceptance online in a small period. buy facebook followers cheap

xccc said...

The most widely used online social networking site Twitter aids individuals to know about ongoing matters and activities or social reactions of their favored superstars. buy real twitter followers

Unknown said...

Facebook is a fantastic system which gives its customers immense possibilities to broaden their horizons. buy usa facebook likes

Unknown said...

Observe newest web marketing trends. Buy YouTube subscribers and Compete your competitors. buying youtube subs

Unknown said...

Are you currently searching for ways to get worldwide popularity instantly? You simply require to Buy Facebook Followers to become well-known online. buy facebook follower

shivam said...

Hey there,
Nice blog
Guys you can visit here to know more
Buy Youtube Subscribers India

Unknown said...

The post is very nice. I just shared on my Facebook Account.

Checkout my site: Increase Fans on Facebook

Prayas Ray said...

Hey guyzzz a great opportunity for all of you. If you want youtube services like quick subscribers and views then you can order for social media services on and you will get complete support and guarantee

Anshika Jindal said...

awesome article.. i would recommend you to go through and get it promoted on social media with full support and guarantee. Also, get quick views, comments, subscribers and followers.

Buy Video Views said...

Very good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site. Stick with it.! YouTube Views Buy

Susmita Agarwal said...

nice article.
Buy Active Indian Instagram Followers & Likes


buy Pain Pills online 
buy Roxicodone online 
buy Xanax online
buy Roxicodone online
  buy Adderall and Hydrocodone online    

Best Article buy Medical Marijuana online
buy Weed online

  buy OXYCODONE online 

buy Norco and Hydrocodone online 

Unknown said...

The post is very nice. I just shared on my Facebook Account.

Checkout my site:

Maksudul Hasan Miju said...

Falcon Solution ltd provide best service with best price for Epoxy resin floor coating, Epoxy floor paint in Bangladesh. for more details here : Epoxy Flooring in Bangladesh

Buy Ig Followers said...

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. buy Instagram followers cheap $1.

Instagram Followers said...

I blog often, and I seriously thank you for your content. The article has piqued my interest. I am going to your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. best place to buy Instagram followers

YouTube Views said...

Great post I must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. buy YouTube Views

Creative Buildingbd said...

Creative Buildingbd is the best service provider company in Bangladesh. Here you get all types of flooring service at an affordable price.