Book Titles Should Send Useful Clues to Readers
It’s been said that you can’t tell a book by its cover. That’s hogwash. (I would have used an earthier expression starting with a B, but this is a family blog.) In the real world of real buyers, most people form their first opinion about a book by its cover. While I enjoy the creative process of writing a book and telling a compelling story, I also try to make a good living doing it. Sales in the marketplace are a good measure of how much people like my work. So I want to sell books—lots of books, thousands of books.
My book covers and titles send important messages to potential buyers who are considering my books. You, the reader, may invest five or ten hours to read a book. Your time has a value, and you’re gambling more than the purchase price when you buy my books.
One of the challenging aspects of marketing any book is to choose a title that people will click on. I want my titles to say, “Yes! That looks interesting. I want to learn more about this book.” My books are only available on the internet. On the internet, people don’t read; they scan. I can’t afford to make you, the buyer, work to figure out the meaning of my title. I have to grab you quickly, or you’ll move on to some other writer.
I want my titles to be short, but I want you to instantly understand what my books are about.
For example, I wrote my first novel using the working title of The Accidental Heiress. Bad idea: Too many friends told me that it sounded like a romance novel. One of my sisters-in-law reads a couple of #romance novels a week. Now I would love to tap into a market that deep and rich, but I prefer to write #mysteries and #thrillers. I went back to the drawing board and brainstormed new titles. I even surveyed a few of my fellow writers and readers (including my sister-in-law). I selected Six Murders Too Many. That tells the reader that this is a #mystery. It also says that it has lots of action. And the cover design with the burning house is a real attention-grabber. If I had gone with my original title, it would probably have been a dud seller.
My second novel, Double Fake, Double Murder was originally going to be titled just Double Fake. A title search on Amazon revealed that there were two other books with “double fake” in the title. They were both about soccer. So I added “double murder” to the title. Now anybody can tell that this is a mystery, not a soccer guide. And I love the double outline of two bodies on the cover. Mike Butler, my cover designer, came up with that one. Great idea, Mike!
Quarterback Trap, the third Carlos McCrary novel, was so obvious that the title almost selected itself. The star quarterback of the upcoming Super Bowl game has his fiancée kidnapped by mobsters who have a huge bet on the game. The star quarterback felt trapped. Duh… The title was a piece of cake. And the cover of a gun over-shadowing a football stadium tells a great story by itself.
Dangerous Friends was a tough choice. I’m still not crazy about the title, but at least the word “danger” tells the buyer that this is a #thriller. The “dangerous friends” are eco-terrorists that dupe an idealistic college student into committing a #terrorist act. If you think of better title, let me know. The cover image shows a key scene from early in the book that starts the whole thriller on its whirlwind roller-coaster ride to the finish.
In my next blog I’ll cover my latest book, Day of the Tiger.
A fast-paced action thriller about ecoterrorism, political corruption, and felony murder.
Chuck McCrary is a wisecracking former Green Beret turned private investigator with a special genius for helping people in trouble—especially if they can pay him for his efforts.
Michelle Babcock, the granddaughter of South Florida’s legendary restaurateur and Chuck’s friend, Hank Hickham, has disappeared. She wakes Chuck with a 4:30 a.m. phone call, desperate for help. James Ponder, her drug addicted boyfriend, has involved her in a double murder that could put her in prison for life unless Chuck can find her a way out.
Michelle only expected free tutoring in college chemistry when she slept with James Ponder, a graduate student obsessed with global warming protests, who has a talent for ecoterrorism. Instead, she is sucked into an unhealthy circle of friendships surrounding an amoral professor whose secret agenda has yielded him millions of dollars with more loot to come. Michelle is swept up in a nightmare of political corruption, terrorism, and mega-million-dollar crimes.
Chuck uncovers a conspiracy involving arson, murder, and the Chicago mob. A mysterious millionaire has masterminded a string of mega-million-dollar stock market scams that reach back for five years. The mastermind intends to cut his losses by murdering anyone who can lead the cops back to him. That includes Michelle, Chuck, and the conscienceless professor, who becomes Chuck’s unwilling ally.
One reason we keep turning pages in Dangerous Friends is to watch the gripping character of Chuck McCrary. The skill with which he handles clients, police detectives, mob assassins, and FBI agents—all while controlling the outcomes of the case—is as remarkable as the clues he uncovers. Chuck seeks justice without regard for the legalities involved and tries to leave the world just a little better than he found it.