How Many Words Should A Book Title Have?

What’s In A Name?

Anyone who is publishing books independently is well aware of how important it is to ulilise every opportunity to sell books.

Regardless of whether your books are available in physical bookshops or exclusively online the way it will attract buyers remains the same – the cover. It is the spine of a book, in a bookshop, or the thumbnail of a cover online that has a brief moment to attract a buyer’s eye. A dull boring cover won’t attract anyone’s attention, regardless of how many five star reviews it has.

The most important part of the cover, after the artwork is the title.  How important is the title – clue – it’s very important.

Quite possibly a title has been in your mind since you began writing or alternatively you could be wondering what to call the book. The title has a huge job to do. In just a few words it has to capture the buyer’s imagination.

If you have a title in mind, no matter how brilliant you think it is, take a moment before you begin to work with your designer just to ascertain if the title is the right one for your book.

How many words should there be in a title? Too many and the cover will look cramped, too few and the cover can look too sparce. Statistically one word covers don’t work well. Of course there are always exceptions, Jilly Cooper’s Riders, Peter Blechley’s Jaws to name a few. One of our publications, Trainers by Louise Broderick continues to be one of our bestsellers. However using a few more words can hook the book buyer in more by posing a question that will resonate with them. Three or four words can balance out the cover, letting the artwork take second place. One word titles tend to get lost on the cover. That’s probably fine if you are a big name author, but this article isn’t aimed at them, its aimed at you – the author who is determined to make a living.

A quick trawl through the bestsellers on Amazon shows that four word titles dominate the best sellers.  However, close on the heels of the four word titles are those with six. 

When you are choosing a title, take a look at your competition in the same genre. How many words are in their titles. While book buyers will not consciously chose a book that obviously fits into the genre, they will subconsciously be drawn to a look that is familiar – and that includes how many words are in the title. The aim is to fit right in, but equally to stand apart! Simple!

It takes time to come up with an amazing cover title. Don’t rush the process. Play around with words, study the synopsis of your book, make sure you understand what it is really about and try to frame that in as few words as possible. If you are writing to series a single word that encompasses the whole of the theme can be a good starting point. This has been used to great effect by Peter James, who uses the word DEAD in many of his books.

If you have spent many hours plotting and planning a book, writing and then editing it, don’t skimp on the time you need to spend deciding on the cover title. It will be time well spent.