Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Series on how to Choose a Title for my Work

Choosing a Title for my Non-Fiction Book
By Debbie Roome

People buy fiction for entertainment and to escape into an imaginary world of romance or intrigue. They buy non-fiction because they want to learn about someone or something. The secret to capturing a sale is choosing a suitable title that grabs the potential reader’s attention.

What should a Non-Fiction Title Contain
Non-fiction titles need to be more tightly focused than fiction titles as the reader is generally looking for specific information. They also tend to be longer so as to reveal the focus of the content. For example, if you were looking for a book on how to cook Thai curries, which of these three would you pick up?
· Asian Cooking
· Step by Step Thai Curries
· Food from the East

Biography/Autobiography
The majority of biographies are written about celebrities, so their name is an important part of the title. Some celebrities are associated with a song, style or object that would also attract a reader’s attention. Below are a few examples for you to consider. If no one springs to mind, type the words into Google and you’ll soon know who they are associated with.
· Moonwalk
· People’s Princess
· Blue suede shoes

Life Experiences
This genre is similar to biography but is often about an unknown person who has had a dramatic experience in life. The story is written to explain how they suffered and consequently triumphed over their circumstances. David J Pelzer suffered extreme abuse as a child. His book is called A Child Called “It” – a fitting summary of the way he was treated as an object instead of a child to be loved. Popular topics in life experiences include stories about life and death encounters in nature, miscarriage, disabled children and terminal diseases. Make sure the title reflects the content.

Self-Help Books
There is a huge market for this type of book and the title normally makes a promise to the reader:
· 10 Steps to a Flat Stomach
· The World’s Easiest Guide to Unblocking Drains
· How to live Debt-free within One Year
· Learn Basic Guitar Skills in 10 Lessons
The title is basically a one sentence summary of the book’s content. Make sure the promises are realistic so the reader doesn’t feel let down.

Travel Books
Every bookshop has a travel section and the books range from simple guides to full colour coffee-table books. Again, the title should reflect the content. If a reader wants to know about hotels in Hong Kong, he is not going to buy a book entitled Street Markets in Hong Kong. He will look for something along the lines of The Best Accommodation Deals in Hong Kong.

Education
This is a huge section and includes school books, text books, historical records, scientific books and encyclopaedias. While some of these may end up with academic-sounding titles, there is still room for fun. Ask the average fifth grader which of these two books he would rather learn from:
· Grade 5 Math Puzzles
· Crazy Number Puzzles for Fifth Graders

Non-fiction takes up plenty of space in a bookshop and there will always be a market for it. People are curious by nature and a well-named book may even entice a reader to take up a new hobby. Make up a list of possible titles and run them past family and friends. Ask professionals who work in that particular field and do a Google search to see what pops up. Titles are what sell so it is worth spending time and effort to find the perfect one.

Next week, will be the last in this series. Come back on Wednesday to learn about titles for newspaper, magazine and internet articles.

Series on how to Choose a Title for my Work - Part One


Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.



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