Your Title, Your Subtitle, and Why It Matters So Much when launching a new book.
Challenge yourself with this simple question: what’s the purpose of your non-fiction book as it relates to your business?
I’ll give you a hint.
Attracting leads and clients.
Drat. I think I just gave you the whole answer.
Remember that a short non-fiction book is to be used to get people interested in having a long relationship with you. This is the “meet you” and “first date” of the business journey. You don’t tell your whole life story on a first date and you sure don’t want to in a short book. The fact is they don’t really care enough about you to care enough about your life story when they just met you. Save that for the 10th date.
Allow them to learn more from you, give them value, solve a problem. If you can help them solve one problem in under 60 pages… they will be fans for life.
If you bore them with 300 pages of scientific data… they will never watch a video of yours, never open an email, and never buy anything from you again. A book they never read is about a “useless as tits on boarhog.” That is a Texas phrase my Dad used to say. You might have to look that one up if you are not from the Southern part of the USA.
The title should be clear, simple, and easy to understand by your perfect customer.
Most of the book authors I have consulted with come to me with a clever title that includes a conundrum, alliteration, or a rhyme. It may be clever to you. It may be clever to your wife and your best friend. But it might not be something anybody cares about or even gets during the three seconds they look at your book cover.
More importantly, it might not contain any of the keywords or issues that your perfect customer is searching for in Google or Amazon. Don’t be cute. Be direct and offer help.
The ideal outcome of most non-fiction authors’ books is to get the book into thousands of people’s hands, to build a brand and build an email list of people who know like and trust the author.
This gets lots of people interested in who they are and how they can help them. This builds a virtual relationship with readers and gives them a chance to enhance their speaking career, get coaching clients, fill seminar rooms, and offer other products.
If nobody reads, downloads, or buys your book in the first place, what’s the purpose of it? You failed.
That being said, please don’t be married to your current title.
The first book I helped somebody write, besides my own, was for my dear late friend, Phyllis Mattingly. All her life, she wanted to write a book called No Vaseline On My Teeth. I helped her write that first book by recording her and interviewing her in her living room in Colorado on cassette tapes and a microphone.
Now for her, that’s a great title because it symbolized her message about living freely and always smiling. If that same book was published today, I would implore her not to keep that title because it would never be found by someone that didn’t already know who she was. Her goal was never to sell 100,000 copies. She wanted to print 500 copies and give them to her family and friend before she died. I helped her achieve that goal. In her case, I did not fight her over the title. Unless you are planning on dying next year… I am going to fight you over your cute but meaningless title.
Unless you’re a celebrity, an ex-president, or a rock-star… don’t use a clever ambiguous cute title.
You need to find something that matches what they’re searching for in the search engines.
If you’re attached and married to your title, at least promise me this: the subtitle will be filled with words people are actually looking for. The process I am suggesting below is to find the “working title”. Once you have the working title, then you can brainstorm other words that have the same meaning and intention that won’t seem so generic.
For example. I wrote a book about using your internal self-talk to help you achieve goals faster. The words goals, faster, or self-talk is not in the book title or subtitle. But, the intention is filled in the final title “The Magic Question. How to get what you want in half the time.”
People want the outcome of getting their goals in half the time. The methodology is the features and not the benefit. The word magic question elicits the emotion of curiosity. “What is the question.” You have to buy the book to find out.
Let’s Pick a Book Title That Gets People to Stop and Take Notice
There is a methodology to actually finding out what people are looking for and developing a “working title”.
You always want to name your articles, videos, and book titles that same thing that people are already looking for. You want to solve a problem and get people to stop and take notice.
Search engines and keyword research tools will be your best friends in this phase.
Google.com has a free search term keyword called “Google Search Term Keyword Tool.” There are other services you can pay for, keyword spy, keyword domination; there are lots of paid services. Unless you’re a professional internet marketer, normally there are two easy things you can do.
First of all, put your keyword into your Google Adwords account, which is the free keyword tool, and see what people are looking for. In most cases, it will be very simple, how to garden, how to improve your law practice. Whatever the major benefit of your book is, type that in.
If you’re on a desktop computer search for a phrase or word… watch what happens.
Google will show you a list of instant suggestions to make your search term faster. For example, if you type in the word “Bart Baggett” in your key term, it’ll also drop down other Bart Baggett words people have searched. Bart Baggett reviews, Bart Baggett credentials, Bart Baggett book, and Bart Baggett handwriting. I had no idea that people were searching for Bart Baggett credentials!
Well, now that I know, I made a video and named it that exact title. That particular terminology was what they were searching for three years ago… so I created a page to help people get what they are looking for. So this tool helps you to figure out what your future readers are looking for. Now, I guess they are looking for my Ted talk or my signature. Why? LOL
Obviously if they’re searching for Bart Baggett, they’re going to find it, because that’s a unique name and there are not 500 other people with that name fighting for the #1 spot in google.
That’s not the audience I want to attract with a new book I am about to publish. I don’t need people who already know me and like me to find me quickly. They already find me quickly.
I want people that have no idea who I am to find my book and be thrilled to have discovered “this guy who teaches exactly what I needed to know.”
This article is part of a three-part article about, “How to Write a Book in Seven Days,” and it will be filled with keywords like how to write a book, how to market a book, how to successfully write a book fast, how to publish a book. I wrote a book with more content called “How to Write a Book in 9.5 Hours”. Is there any confusion about what you are going to read about in that book? Nope. The only criticism I received was “That’s impossible. You are an idiot.” Funny. But, most of my best selling books I transcribed from speeches and wrapped it all up in less than 9.5 hours of my personal time. So, who is the idiot now, user name firstimeauthor1944?
Then when people do a search for how to write a book, this book will pop up in the search engines in Amazon.com, or my own websites, from a search of those keywords.
So that is the easiest way to title and subtitle your book is to use a fill-in-the-blank formula to start.
I highly recommend that if you’re writing a non-fiction book, do a subtitle with the word phrase
How _______ ______ in ____ days or less.
How to overcome sugar cravings in 3 days or less
How to lose ten pounds in 30 days or less.
How to master dreamweaver in 30 days or less.
How to (verb) (problem) in (short time frame).
How solve your legal problems in five days.
How to get a divorce without losing your shirt.
How to easily teach your kids to read without murdering your own child.
You get the point.
Use Google search terms and the automated suggested terms as your key to brainstorming ideas for the working title. The working title might be the final title.. just wait until you get the subtitle.
You might find the “How to” title becomes the subtitle.
Here are two good ones from friends of mine:
Title: Talking to Crazy
Subtitle: How to deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life.
Title The Bulletproof Diet
Subtitle: Lose up to a pound a day, reclaim your energy and focus, upgrade your life. *
*This is a “how to lose” title with the words “how to” eliminated. It works.
Find the big problem and include that word or phrase in the working title.
Part Two: subtitle
Part two is choosing the best phrase for the subtitle. You should have three to four phrases that you’re in love with and here’s how you’re going to choose the best one..: you’re going to let the market figure it out.
One of the best books that I’ve read is by a writer who is purely a writer, he just writes books and he’s brilliant at it. His name is Timothy Ferriss, he wrote a book called The Four Hour Work Week, followed up by a book called The Four Hour Body.
Both are good books, by the way, very well researched, very thick, and very dense. He tested the title, Four Hour Work Week, among dozens of other titles and the research indicated that Four Hour Work Week was what people were interested in, that is the one that stopped people in their tracks and say, “Wow! A four hour work week? I love it.”
So do what Timothy Ferriss did, do what I do, and test all your titles before you spend $300 getting a book cover made. That being said, the book that you’re reading right now, we will test the title and that may take another seven days on top of the seven days it took to write it. So while we’re formatting it and while we’re getting it ready for Kindle, I’ll run a test to figure out which of the variations of How to Write a Book in Seven Days, How to Write a Book Over the Weekend, How to Write a Book Fast, How to Write a Book Quickly, How to Write Your First Book with No Headache — whatever title it will be, you can guarantee that we will have tested that title and it will be the one that the most people care about because I am writing the book to attract people that want to write a book. Just like you’re writing a book to attract people about your topic.
If It’s good enough for Tim Ferris, It’s good enough for you and me.
You’re not going to guess, you’re not going to survey your friends and your relatives and your mother. They are not people who can be objective. You need people who don’t know you, don’t care about you, and don’t give a damn about anything except what’s in it for them… in other words…people searching on google or Youtube.com
What you’re going to do is take your credit card, you’re going to get a Google Adwords account and spend some money on testing.
You are going to create 10 different ads with 5 different titles and 5 different subtitles in the copy. Use the same image for each ad. The image doesn’t matter. Just use the same image so that the words are the variable.
Then, you create 10 different website pages with the exact title and a short article on that page. (The same short article for each title). Just take a chapter from your book.
If you want to make your money back, put an opt-in form on the page with this message:
“This book is being released next month, please enter your name and email to be on the early release free preview list.” You’re not even going to care whether they put their email in.
All you are doing is looking at clicks. The results will blow your mind.
Here is a mock-up of what a test would have looked like if I had run traffic to various titles for the article you are reading. This is a mockup, the numbers are not authentic.
The column called CTR (Click Through Ratio) indicates the winner. That is the best title or headline. I circled it in red. These are real results, I just cropped them from a different campaign for this example.
Run all ten of these ads in one Google Adwords group or Facebook “ad set” in one campaign for one week. You can also use Facebook if you want to use an image and have more space for a longer subtitle or description. The process of testing is the same for both platforms. Facebook might get you better results since they are NOT looking for your keyword, they are getting your ad thrown at them and they might or might not find it interesting. Set your budget for $10 per day.
All you care about is the click percentage that is the winner. CTR, Click through ratio. The total number of clicks could be misleading if you got more views. You can confirm this by looking at the traffic on the ten different article pages with different titles, assuming you installed a tracking service like google analytics before you started this campaign.
You will be shocked to find that the one that you thought was the least interesting is the best, or the one that you thought was the best, is number two. Let the market decide.
So it doesn’t even matter what people do when they get to the landing page, you’re going to use Google Adwords to test your top five or six titles and use the one that people are most compelled to click and read more about. Do not use a different image for each ad… this will ruin your test data.
So, that’s it! In summary, figure out your title, go to Google Adwords and keyword search tool, look what Google suggests as alternatives, and then test, test, test.
Now you’re a marketer who writes books. Want to learn more about turning your book into a real business with high-paying clients? Contact TRW Consult to get started.