Choosing A Great Title For Your Ebook? Quiz Audiences, Spy On Competitors, Share Your Own Life, Coin Your Own Words, Incite Curiosity, Outrage, Or Want
Choosing the absolutely perfect title for your ebook is a second step in the process. Writing a lot of potential raw titles is the first step. From quantity comes quality. So don’t sweat the rigor. You don’t get two chances to make a first impression. After you’ve shortlisted the raw title to use, then polish it for style and vocabulary.
There are many ways to get ideas for ebook titles – but, ultimately, there is a balance between promising what the reader wants and the fine art of playing with words. Neither can your ebook title be all blah, and nor can it be all bluster and bumpf.
One more important thing to remember: a great title for an ebook is not good enough if it cannot translate into sales and downloads. So wait to see the cash register ringing before you pat yourself on the back for finding the perfect ebook title.
On this post, we, at Solohacks Academy, have given you ten cracking ideas to get started with ebook titles. We’re happy to be sharing our secrets with you. None of these methods are as complicated as naming a baby.
1. Solve a potential customer’s pain point: let the ebook title hint at the contours of your solution
If you look at your target audiences closely, you’ll notice common pain-points that many of them have. Some may know they have these problems. Others may need a bit of prompting to see if they have these same problems. Either way, it’s always a great idea to promise a solution to the common pains of your audiences in your ebook titles.
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There’s one thing to be careful of, though. When you try to locate customer pain-points, it’s easy to imagine that they have certain problems, but your guesses may not always be right. Until you actually quiz your audiences, or listen to their chatter in online groups and forums, you can’t locate the real problems people believe they have.
It may also happen that customers just know they have certain negative experiences they want to be rid off – but they may not know exactly what their pain-points are or how to articulate them. So do some deep-diving. Don’t be satisfied with broad problem definitions. Drill down to see what the real pain-points are that your audiences may feel. See what they need solved. Make sure that mention of a fail-safe solution finds a place in the ebook title.
2. Make a competitive promise to your readers: people feel a sense of urgency when they feel competitive
There is always a psychological fillip a reader gets when he thinks he can outdo others in the race towards some success he craves. Using this psychology of wanting to be unique – in order to be competitive – can work very well for ebook titles. Make sure your title creates that sense of urgency in beating the others at the game.
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The psychological gambit that works in titles that sound competitive and urgent is often referred to by marketers as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Most people never get round to taking some action on an issue they have on the back burner – till they are reminded that others are racing ahead of them. If your ebook title can create this fear of missing out on the goodies of life, you can get customers to open their wallets and get your ebook.
It’s also important to make people feel the way to pip their competitors to the post is easy. Your title should never sound like it’s all hard work and uphill. Make it all sound very do-able. In fact, a lot of successful book titles promise that most of us already have the routes to success within us, and these just need to be identified and exploited. People love knowing that they already have what it takes. They just need your ebook to remind them of their hidden resources.
3. Show people a route to take in a confused life: people need help understanding the impact of their decisions
Not everybody actually knows what his pains or problems are. Before actual pains or problems surface, people often find themselves at forks in the road – not knowing which choice to make, and what the fallout of each choice may be. If they let this stalemate fester, it becomes a palpable problem. Your ebook could catch people’s interest before they make key decisions and then face the resultant problems. Your ebook title ideas, in such cases, could show that the aim is to de-confuse those who are confused.
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Every small or large decision involves a set of choices, from which we have to choose one way – and hope that is the right way leading to the goals we want. It’s human nature to get stymied before any decision is made, because of the need for more clarity on what the repercussions of our decisions may be. People not only need to know what they may gain by their decisions, but also what they may lose. That’s why ebook titles that show people the pros and cons of critical decisions are such a big hit.
When your ebook promises to decode the gains and losses of decisions for customers, you can also show them that there may be more than just two options before them. You may have a third way that may never have occurred to them before. So think about how to frame your title. For example, instead of your title reading as “Freelance Or Job: How To Choose The Way For You” you could just as well title your ebook as “Freelance Or Job: How To Choose The Way You Can Have Both”. When you opt to show people an unexpected way out, you could also make your ebook stand apart from the crowd.
4. Attract people to think in a contrarian way: breaking free from stereotypical behavior energizes people
Some people just love to break free to think, using their own brains instead of following the herd-mentality. If you suspect that your target audiences are among such people who’d love to be contrarian, you could try titles that make them feel they can continue living life on their own terms.
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- Hard Work Doesn’t Pay. Read My Lips.
Rebelliousness, and the need to be contrary, hits all of us at some time or other in our lives. Most often it happens when we’ve repeatedly tried the so-called “tried-and-trusted” methods to achieve success in our goals, and yet success keeps eluding us. Throwing caution and logic to the winds, we want to shout “Enough!” and do the exact opposite of what the experts say. We like to break free of the ruts we are in, and find new energy in ourselves by breaking the shackles we’ve allowed ourselves to be tied up by.
Further, being “uncommon” is also a synonym for being “stand-out”. When people feel they are going north, despite the herds going south, there is a feeling of being distinctive, different, more noticed, and trying to find success using our own innovative methods. When there’s so much competition around, and everybody sounds like everybody else, your target audiences may be happy to pay for an ebook titled “Hard Work Doesn’t Pay. Read My Lips”. They will somehow find the money to discover the offbeat, non-conformist way.
5. Write a title that creates immense curiosity: many people open their wallets when they can’t bear suspense
Curiosity killed the cat. It can also kill readers – until they buy your ebook. Some ebook titles trade on the idea that people will not rest till they’ve found out some curious method they never even thought about before. If you can arouse such curiosity that makes your audience reach for their wallets to buy peace, why not try ebook titles like these.
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Some ebooks are intriguing to target audiences, just because their titles promise that their contents are going to be “not run-of-the-mill”. What the difference is, we cannot wait to know. When the human mind comes across a half-finished story, it cannot but get exercised. This is what makes such ebooks sell when the headlines promise some propositions that are totally unusual – such titles that arouse curiosity, just because they are talking of subjects that are not part of the normal fare we get to read.
Psychologists believe that curiosity is a very powerful emotion. In her article titled, “Is Curiosity A Positive Or Negative Feeling?”, Tania Lombrozo says: “One of the most prominent theories of curiosity, the information-gap model, suggests that curiosity arises when a person notices a gap in her knowledge. The gap induces a feeling of deficiency, which in turn motivates her to fill the gap. Like hunger or thirst, curiosity can thus be aversive; an emotional prod to obtain information. Perhaps the bigger or more consequential the gap, the more aversive the feeling.” In simple English, what this means is that curiosity creates an intense hunger for immediate knowledge. Isn’t that the emotion you want your ebook title to excite?
6. Use catchy, memorable, alliterative titles: humans tend to run catchy words on a loop in their minds
Wordplay teases a lot of people and makes ebook titles catchy and memorable. Remember how we all as youngsters used to keep muttering tongue twisters to ourselves to get them right? That’s a hint of how addictive some alliterative words can be. If you can make your ebook titles catchy, with the use of some clever wordplay, by all means try it out. (But don’t lose the essence of the book in the pursuit of words that feel good on the tongue.)
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What’s alliteration? Alliteration is the repetition of sounds within words and phrases, within the brain. It’s a kind of deliberate language usage that causes the human brain to remember exact phrases with high accuracy. In short, alliteration aids remembrance power. Several psychological studies have shown that alliteration can often be a far superior tool for memory engagement, than even images. This may be because alliteration converts words into some form of sounds or rhythms that feel pleasant to the inner hearing.
If you think about it deeply, see how many popular and memorable brand names use some form of alliteration: Coca-Cola, Dunkin Donuts, Best Buy, PayPal, Blackberry … I’ll bet you didn’t even think about how these names have been chosen to keep ringing in your memory because of their alliteration usage. All you may remember is that they are so easy on the tongue, and have the quality of running on a loop in your mind.
7. Coin your own words to make for unique titles: most common and uncommon words are all probably taken
Since almost all words and phrases of worth have been used and overused in the information overload we have these days, many authors seek to coin ebook titles that then become their own “property”. Some even go on to trademark these coined words. Remember, it’s also easy to get a domain name to match if your coined ebook title is truly innovative.
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Just in case you think coining words is a recent phenomenon, I need to tell you that ancient authors have become famous because of some words they coined hundreds of years ago. The trick is not new. It’s just become more imperative in the information clutter around us. For instance, did you know that Charles Dickens is the writer who first coined the word “boredom”? Or that he also coined “cheesiness”, “fluffiness, “flummox”, “rampage”, “wagonful” and “snobbish”? William Thackeray, who didn’t want to be outdone, then further coined “snobbishness” taking off from Dickens.
Please don’t think that coining new words is hard. Thanks to technology we now have tools that help. The tool WordCombiner allows you to enter up to 4 different words to get rare coined combination words. Try the tool. You’ll get so many combinations you didn’t think possible. But remember, the tool cannot choose the right word for your ebook title. Your cleverness is what will help you pick the right title word that can imply all things you want your book to stand for.
8. Highlight to people what they don’t want: that shows them what they want instead to find peace and sanity
Negative advertising, they say, works faster than positive advertising. Sometimes, showing people what they don’t want spurs them to find solutions faster than if they were shown what they want. The prospect of something ruining their peace of mind is at play in such situations. If this ploy works for your ebook title, why not give it a spin?
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How exactly does negative ebook titling work? And why does it work faster than positive titling does? This is an interesting subject. To some people the idea of getting something good in their lives gives a high, but yet it does not induce immediate action. They may allow themselves to dream of the new things they hope to have, but dreams are pleasant places to be in, and action on the other hand requires coming out of dreamland to do something about the dream. On the contrary, when there is prospect of an unpleasant dream, instigated by a negative ebook title, people shudder at the mental disruption. They lose peace. They lose pleasantness. They try to break out of this disturbing mindset in a hurry.
A boss of mine explained an experiment to me I’ll never forget. He said if you ask someone politely to vacate a chair, he won’t. He may be too pleasantly ensconced to take action or get up. But try telling him, “I smell some smoke. Could it be your car in the car park downstairs? Some smoke is billowing from under the bonnet!” He will vacate the chair in a tearing hurry and rush downstairs, without even waiting to see if it is indeed his car on fire. That is the action-energy of a negative phrasing at work.
9. Include a ‘How To’ in your title (works every time): the Internet world is full of “How Tos” and yet not satiated
Look at the Internet. Look at Google search. See how many “How To” blog posts are read every day and how many of them are saved and preserved and collected as PDFs or cheatsheets – simply because they promise to show you the steps to achieve some tasks or action. There is a “practicality” inherent in anything that begins with the words “How To” in the title. Use it to best advantage for your ebook title.
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There are two things implied by any title that begins with “How To”. One implication is that the ebook will not ramble on theory. It can be expected to get to the point quickly with a brief introduction to the topic, and the rest of the ebook will be a sequence of action steps to take. In fact, if ever you want to write a book which is titled with a “How To”, remember that your audiences will begin gnashing their teeth with disgust if your intro is about 2500 words. They want you to come to action points quickly. They didn’t buy your ebook to see how strong you are on conceptual theory.
The second implication of a “How To” title for an ebook is that you will demonstrate the action steps. Your readers will expect to see embedded screengrabs or images showing how the action for each step needs to be done. A good example of how people expect a “How To” ebook to perform would be to see the blog posts on the site eHow.com. Notice how they often have slide shows or long blog posts showing each step of a process with visual and text explanations. The more complicated your sequence of steps are, the more visuals you will need to explain the sub-processes within each step. So remember to meet such customer expectations.
10. Give your own life example as an inspiration: people love knowing how you made it when they haven’t
Everybody loves a good story. When you tell them your story, they live your story “vicariously” by reading your words. They feel as if they themselves have had your experience. They learn without having to go through your trials and tribulations. Whenever possible, tell people your story if it will make them feel that knowing your tale can give them a shortcut in life, instead of taking the long route you took.
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It helps to know why “vicarious experiences” are so craved by people – and why, therefore, storytelling has become so powerful as a way of communication. Larry Brooks in his article “The Secret Weapon of Storytelling … Right Under Your Nose” says, “Vicarious experience means transporting the reader to a place, time or into a situation that: they can’t or probably won’t ever experience in real life; is inherently exciting, curious, dangerous, titillating or rewarding; is forbidden and/or impossible; or is inherently compelling for some other reason … like, it really happened.”
What this means is that a story becomes compelling to readers’ when they feel, in their imaginations, like they’ve been through real experiences themselves. If you take the titles “How I Survived The Loss Of My Child” or “The Day I Saw The World From The Top Of Mount Everest”, your readers may never have that real-life experience. But they may like to feel your experiences, knowing their own lives never may never give them the real chance to feel such emotions. Our lives are often so humdrum to us that we may crave experiences beyond the range of our own lives – and that’s when we buy those ebooks that transport us into experiences we may never really have. That could also be the reason why titles like “My Experiments With Intermittent Fasting” may induce people into buying the book. Most readers may never start or sustain the action-plan you evangelize. But by buying the ebook, they may like to imagine they too have “taken an important step” like you did, even if they don’t go beyond that first step ever.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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