What makes a good title?

Let’s take a look at the qualities every book title should have.

A good title accurately represents the story and its big picture elements

Consider title conventions in your genre/subgenre. Browse the titles of books similar to yours on Amazon and Goodreads and look for commonalities. While you want your title to stand out, you should also ensure you’re meeting readers’ expectations. A book’s title should also reveal a little of what the reader can expect from the story, so be sure to consider your message and the theme, tone and/or trope. A good example is Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips — a light, fun read about a matchmaker who falls for her reluctant client.

A good title should be unique and original

This is where our writing skills get tested. While titles can’t be copyrighted, it’s not advisable to give your book a title that’s been used before. If a reader searches for your book online and five other titles appear above it in the results, the reader may end up getting sidetracked and forget about hunting down your book. You want to make things as easy as possible for them, and the best way to do that is to come up with something unique. A good example is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. There ain’t no other book out there with that title!

A good title should be memorable

You want readers to remember your book’s title so they can recommend it to friends. Something reasonably short and catchy is usually the way to go; bonus points if it’s a play on words, either of a popular expression or another well-known work. Ensuring  your book’s title is memorable increases your chances of gaining new readers by word of mouth. A good example is Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. It’s short, snappy and intriguing.

A good title should provide insight and/or keep the reader thinking

A title that leaves the reader ruminating about the story once they’ve read it, especially if it’s not incredibly special when considered on its own, is a powerful one indeed. For a few words to keep a story at the forefront of a reader’s mind long after they’ve turned the last page is surely something magical. A good example is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I often wonder which of the main characters was more proud, more prejudiced.