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6 Tips for Crafting Compelling Nonfiction Book Titles

A book’s title is the number one factor determining sales. Yes, even more than superb content. We know that sounds counterintuitive, but readers make lightning fast decisions on which books to purchase based largely on book titles.

The reality is clear: a compelling, strategic title that speaks to what readers crave grabs attention, while the wrong title can make even the most exceptional writing get ignored.

This post shares key tips for crafting nonfiction book titles optimized to connect with your ideal audience and drive real world impact through enhanced discovery and engagement.

Read on to learn how to distill your unique message into irresistible book branding.

1. Include Strong SEO Keywords

One of the most important component to include in your title are keywords and phrases that readers are already searching for when looking for a book like yours. This is crucial not only for SEO and visibility purposes, but also so browsers immediately understand what your book is about. Research keywords related to your book’s topic and genre on Amazon and Google to determine terms to feature.

2. Answer “What’s In It For Me?”

An effective title clearly conveys to readers how your book will solve their problems or provide value. Before crafting your title, get very clear on who your target reader is and what outcomes they want from a book like yours. Then, ensure your title speaks directly to the benefits readers will gain.

3. Target Your Ideal Reader

Along with articulating the value, your title should use terminology and framing familiar to your ideal reader. Get insight into how your perfect reader talks about the issue your book addresses to mirror their vocabulary. This ensures immediate clarity and resonance.

4. Make a Specific Promise

Titles that make an explicit, tangible promise related to the book tend to perform well. Rather than being vague, be ultra-clear about the single most compelling outcome readers can expect from reading your book. State it confidently right in the title – it establishes credibility and urgency.

5. Create Curiosity

While conveying concrete value, you also want a touch of intrigue. Use interesting phrasing or positioning that leaves the reader curious to open the book and learn more. Think about what obvious questions your reader likely has related to the topic and work them into the title subtly.

6. Differentiate Yourself

Especially for popular genres, work to make your title distinctly you. Emphasize what makes your approach or perspective unique compared to others in the space through word choices and framing that no one else uses. This builds recognition and gives you authority.

Testing Your Book Titles

You’ve crafted what seem like amazing titles for your upcoming nonfiction book. But how do you really know if prospective readers will be as compelled by them as you hope? The key is to test out different title options before finalizing anything. Not only does testing eliminate guesswork, it also provides critical data to optimize the choices you make.

We recommend utilizing two easy testing methods in particular – the arm test and Facebook/Google ads testing.

A. The Arm Test

This physical approach to “blending in” feedback from your intuition is called the arm test. Here’s how it works:

Have a friend face you and push down gently on an extended arm as you resist by pushing up. Try it a few times while making very definitive true statements like, “My name is ____” so you get familiar with the amount of force for statements that feel congruent with your sense of self.

Then, have your friend push down as you say potential book title options. Pay attention to when it feels noticeably more difficult to keep your arm raised. This indicates an “incongruence” with part of yourself around that title at a subtle level.

Try different variations and phrasings and see which flows most effortlessly. Keep the one where resistance feels minimal as you declare it. This title likely aligns best with your core identity and intentions for your work.

B. Facebook/Google Ads Testing

A more data-driven approach is running ads on Facebook and Google to see which variant compels more clicks.

Create an ad for each title that targets your ideal reader and directs them to identical book sales or email opt-in landing pages – the only difference being the title visitors see. For the unpaid version, simply create posts natively on each platform with your titles as headlines. For paid testing, put $25 to 50 behind each title’s ad for broader exposure and reporting on back end metrics like cost per click. Let the ads run for 5 to 7 days, then see which title drove more total clicks to your page at a lower cost per click. This quantifiably reveals which piques interest most effectively!

Between validating against your intrinsic sense of coherence with the arm test and gauging real world traction with ads, you’ll get clear confirmation around the optimal title to catalyze engagement with your book!

Other Title Considerations

Beyond incorporating core elements like keywords, value framing, and resonance testing, here are a few other guidelines around titling specifics worth keeping in mind:

A. Positive vs. Negative

Research indicates readers more actively gravitate towards book titles with optimistic, or at least neutral framing as opposed to overtly negative phrasing. Though emotionally provocative words themselves aren’t inherently problematic, be mindful of how tone comes across holistically. Does the title uplift, empower and inspire? Does it speak to readers from a place of possibility versus criticism? Leading with positivity engages interest with less friction.

B. Easy to Understand and Spell

Technical jargon has its place, but book titles usually aren’t it. Use common vernacular easily grasped by everyday people. Additionally, ensure phonetically unambiguous spelling so both oral discussion and written communication cause no confusion around the name.

C. Keep it Short

Brevity aligns beautifully with clarity – a short, succinct title has space to spotlight only the most necessary components discussed here to broadcast what a book delivers. Shoot for 5 words or less in the main title, with more flexibility around length in subtitles that provide supporting context if included.

D. Check Domain Availability

The book title has potential to live beyond the pages as part of your overall brand – so check if domains based on it are available! Can you register YourBookTitle.com or derivations like YourBookTitleBook.com? Owning relevant domains amplifies visibility in online conversations about your work.

Hone in on options satisfying all core elements highlighted here for an optimal title. But also take advantage of flexibility within secondary considerations to differentiate your book! Blend substance, tone, length and other nuances into the triangular hole framing your unique perspective on a topic readers crave.

Crafting Compelling Book Titles

Titling a nonfiction book effectively is both art and science. There are specific elements scientifically proven to spur interest and purchases. But remember to give those structured ingredients space for your own personal flair and style too. Try out multiple options that meet all core checkpoints shared here. Say them out loud, sleep on them, blend a little something more you into the mix if nothing clicks automatically. Don’t get bogged down aiming for perfection either – nail down a title embodying enough key title traits and leave room for the magic of reader resonation to fill any gaps. Trust you’ll fashion the right words to welcome audiences into the world you’ve created through your book.

Want to learn more marketing tips to increase how much your book revenue? Watch our free “How To Write A Book That Generates $288,000 Per Year” training video to get step-by-step instruction on profitable book marketing!

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