The Importance of Choosing an Unusual or Unique Book Title

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

I work with and talk with writers ALL THE TIME. Any chance I get, I want to talk to a writer. I don’t care if they are a blogger, a long-time traditionally-published author, an indie author or anything in between. It is important to my craft to see and know about what other people are writing. I am usually pleasantly surprised.

But I’ve noticed a trend lately that is working against the writer, rather than for it. Writers are using generic phrases or single words as their book title. If it is an unusual word, then that might be okay. But a lot of authors are using titles that have no information or appeal in them what-so-ever.

I was mildly curious about what others thought about this trend, so I went to Google to find out. I found several posts and articles about this topic. They basically said the same thing: a title helps the reader want to read your book.

This is true. Titles like “To A God Unknown” and “East of Eden” and “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” are great titles. While they don’t tell what the story is about, they make me think and become interested. What would someone say to an unknown god? What exactly is/happened East of Eden? Why would anyone leave Eden? Why does the caged bird sing?

But in this day of digital publishing (where an online release might precede or replace a print one), there is a simpler and far more important reason to choose a better title. Your generic title will get absolutely BURIED in search results. Bloggers already know this, and they do it all the time, so they take time to craft a blog title that will get noticed.

In this world of SEO (search engine optimization), the key words you use are important to the discover-ability of your book. Granted, for those well versed in SEO, you know as well as I do that keywords are only a part of the puzzle. But having a unique title makes it easier to find the book.

Additionally, the unique title (in a sense) becomes part of the brand you’ve built. Automatically, I know that “Sweet Thursday” is a John Steinbeck novel. I know that “The Bluest Eye” was written by Toni Morrison. Your title becomes associated with your name.

But despite the other two reasons I gave, the most important reason to choose a unique (or unusual) book title is simple: chances are, others who are not as savvy as you, have chosen the same title.

I was recently notified of a new title released by an acquaintance. When I heard the title, I groaned inwardly because I had a suspicious that the title was not unique. A quick search on Amazon’s Kindle proved my point. The title she had chosen was also chosen by SIX other writers. Hers was at the bottom of that list.

Out of curiosity, I searched for another title I know is going to be used by another acquaintance. When I got my search results, I stopped counting after 22. More than 22 other authors had chosen that same title! At least one of those authors is famous. What made it even worse, is that despite their all having the same title, the books were on a variety of different topics. It would be very hard to distinguish between all of them.

I challenge you to brainstorm a few different book titles for your next publication. What are the best book titles you’ve ever noticed? Tell us about them in the comments.

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