Sometimes book titles themselves are catchy and clever but don’t actually tell you what a book is about. Enter your subtitle. The subtitle can expand on the title. Don’t get me wrong: You WANT a catchy title so that it’s memorable, but you also want to be clear to readers what they’re getting in your book.
"Sometimes book titles themselves are catchy and clever but don't actually tell you what a book is about. Enter your subtitle." (Tweet)
Case in point: I recently received an email from a former editorial colleague, from my days working for publishers directly. She congratulated me on the publication of my book, Write.Publish.Market. and said that she had purchased 20 copies to gift to her editing clients. While I certainly appreciated her support (and those sales!), my book isn’t going to help her clients, who publish in academic journals. If my colleague had read my subtitle, she would have known: From Idea to Published Book: The Creative Entrepreneur’s Blueprint. My book is for book writers, not journal article writers, and it’s for creative entrepreneurs, not academics.
Here are a couple more examples that show the impact a subtitle can have:
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
“Routine,” “focus,” and “creativity” are more likely to be searched than “day-to-day,” but the strong verb in the title makes it memorable.
She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur
If I’m searching for books about entrepreneurship, I’m skipping over this one unless I see the subtitle.
Remember: Amazon is like a search engine.
This is among the biggest reasons to include a strong, keyword-rich subtitle. When you’re writing a book, you need to consider the readers whom you DON’T know. The readers who might stumble upon your book when searching by keyword or even looking for a book or ebook in one of the same categories as yours. Surely you’ve peeked at the “Customers who bought this item also bought” when you’re browsing on Amazon? Your friends, family, biz besties, and colleagues will support you but they aren’t the ones who are randomly finding your book on Amazon. And unless you have several hundred or a thousand people in that primary circle of support, you’re going to need sales from strangers and referrals to help you achieve your goals (sales and otherwise).
"You friends, family, biz besties, and colleagues will support you but they aren't the ones who are randomly finding your book on Amazon." (Tweet)
Need a Jump-Start for a Subtitle?
Check out the Subtitle-o-Matic from Publishers Weekly (an oldie but a goodie). This resource breaks down the common “formulas” used in subtitle creation to help get your mind turning. (I bet you’ll recognize some of these formulas if you take a look at your bookshelf.)
For fun, tell me in the comments your favorite book subtitle — bonus points if you tell me why!