How To Create A Compelling Title For Your Self-Published E-book

Recently a few members of a Facebook group that I belong to, asked me how I come up with the nifty titles for my books. I'll address that in a moment and I hope that it will help you get out of the stuck stage.

There are a number of differences between indie publishers and those who go through the publishing route. Here is a point by point list.

1. Indie writers/publishers get to write what they want to write.

2. We get to choose our covers and titles.

3. We are responsible for everything, the writing, getting it edited, publishing and marketing the heck out of it.

4. Indie writers do not fight with publishers over anything like…"hey man, you cut 35% of my book and where is that dedication in the front that I wrote for my cat?"

5. Money. As an idie we have to pay out of our pockets, so we watch every dime. However the chances of making really great money and not having anybody looking over our shoulder makes it worth while.


For a couple of years I used to exchange the odd email with Barry Eisler. Barry has a very succcessful series which I love and recommended many times over. For a number of years Barry had a traditional publishing contract. His publisher didn't always agree with him and one of the big points was the book titles. It frustrated Barry in a big way. He didn't tell me this personally. He was very vocal about it on his websites and interviews that he gave.

Barry's character is named John Rain and he is a mix of white and Japanese. Oh yeah, he also happens to be a martial artist who is a highly paid assassin. Can you scream AWESOME with me. The series has been picked up and will become a television show, starring Keanu Reeves. While Barry is super excited about this, he wasn't quite so happy when his traditional publisher ignored him and titled all his books with the last name Rain. Just like this, Rain Fall, Hard Rain and Killing Rain as examples. Barry felt that the titles just did not envoke what was in the books. Hence the name change of his books when he moved over to Amazon Kindle and got his book rights back. Barry just announced a new book, called, "Graveyard of Memories." I am busting a gut to read this.

So if you are following along, you can see that if you decide to enter the world of indie publishing, there is a lot to be excited about. Yes it will be a thrill ride of ups and downs but life needs some excitement.


So now we come to my method of choosing titles for my ebooks. In my case, I have done a bit of copywriting/ghostwriting…peppered with some NLP. This helps a bit but I am sure you can do it as well.

My first ebook is a really short memoir of my time working as a security officer/guard-depending on how you feel about it. My wife's family never really understood my job. I am positive that they thought I walked around the hotel looking for burnt out light bulbs and checking for unlocked doors. As a matter of fact, I made the mistake of letting one of my brother-in-laws read my memoir, "Confessions Of A Nocturnal Surveillance Officer." He was very offended with the language and situations that I described. I knew he thought I was a security guard…doorknob, pilon or some such useless object. 🙂

It really didn't take that long for me to come up with the title. I had a lot to confess…I can be a mean son of a bitch when pushed and I worked the graveyard shift a lot as a security officer and a bouncer. When bouncing, I started at 9pm and finished up around 3am, sometimes chilling in the cafe until the on duty security officer got off and we would pound down the eggs/bacon before calling it a night.

In fiction, I personally recommend that you find something in your book that is a bit odd or you know the reader will stop and re-read while thumbing/scrolling the pages.

Take my first piece of fiction, "Blue Ringed Octopus Delight." I came up with the name because the female Asian character has a tattoo of a blue ringed octopus-which are very deadly sea creatures. You do not want one of those guys to inject their toxins in you. She is a hot asian girl and could be a "delight" to spend some quality time with. So I combined the two thoughts to come up with the title.

Let's stop for a moment. Refer back to Stephen King's book called "It." Great book and it was made into a movie. Currently they are planning a remake of "It" and will break it into two movies. For me personally, the book name "It", just doesn't cut it. Ha Ha. I would have gone with something like this, "They All Float Down Here."

Okay back to me. Sometimes you get stuck or rushed. That is what happened to the follow-up novella to "Blue Ringed Octopus Delight." I had a great title all picked out. However, time and money became an issue with the artwork that matched up to the title. I couldn't find anyone who could create what I needed. So the title went on the backburner and I hope and pray that I can use it for Part Four which will be a novel in the series. I already have a great title worked out for Part Three, which is another novella.

So I had to come up with a title on the run and I chose, "Dead In The Water." It made perfect sense considering the number of dead bodies that end up in the water. After it was published on Amazon Kindle, I found that several other people had ebooks by the same name, including one very famous author. Lucky for me and for you….budding author, book titles cannot be copyrighted. Whew. I darn near downloaded in my pants when the title popped up in my google search and it wasn't by me.

So in summary, grab a pen and paper. While reading/editing your ebook for the 50th time or however many times you so chose….write down two to five words that jump out at you. Grab the words that you feel your reader is going to "pop eyeballs" at. That can and should be your book title. There are folks out there who say your book title should reflect what is in your ebook. That isn't always possible and let's face it, your favorite author whose work is sitting in hardcover on the bookstore shelf, usually has jackshit to say about the title. "It." Really? I doubt that was Stephen's choice. Look at the books you have purchased over the years. How many of them really told you what the story was going to be about. My serious guess would be not a hell of a lot.

Covers are so much more important, when it comes to attracting your target market. A grandma sitting in her rocking chair with a cute kitty cat, would not leave you to believe a book is about a serial killer targeting children. Yet in the indie publishing, we see folks putting up ebooks like this. I made the same mistake myself with the first cover of "Blue Ringed Octopus Delight"and I changed it after the first month when it dawned on me, "Holy Crap. People might think this is a romance" Not even close.

I hope this helps you out with your titles and covers and I wish you success.




  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply