how to title your nonfiction book

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

This post is sponsored by Dibbly Create. More about them later in the post. Some outbound links are part of an affiliate program where I’m compensated for any sales made through them. Thanks for your understanding and support.


how to title your nonfiction bookNonfiction authors! We’ve got a problem–it’s your book’s title. While you’re doing a stellar job writing and publishing your books, most of you are missing the mark in a huge way. If you want to sell more books and grow your readership, then you shouldn’t miss out on the prime real estate for enticing readers and increasing discoverability–your title.

If I had a time machine, I would go back ten years and tell myself that this just doesn’t cut it (see image below). No, I’m not talking about the horrible cover. And, let’s just ignore that I didn’t include my middle initial to differentiate myself from an already-established author.

It’s the title. While the title is okay, I lost one major opportunity or two by the words I chose within the title. Can you figure out what that is? Pause the video, drop a comment, and come back. If you don’t have an answer, then give me your best shot.

How to title a nonfiction book

First off, the main title is okay and definitely sets expectations that this book is, in fact, something about health and wellness…

Or, health and fitness…

Or, health and happiness???

After I had a little experience self-publishing, I upgraded my first book to this…

how to title a nonfiction book

I went from a short, ambiguous title to a more passable and tasteful title.

Leveraging the right words in your title comes down to a balance of artistic expression, keyword optimization, and brevity. While it is important you infuse some of your personality and cleverness into a title, it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.

When readers are looking for a book, they don’t know you. For however smart or witty or clever you think your title is, if someone can’t determine what your book is at a quick glance, you’re dead in the water.

The next major factor to consider is keyword use. Using the exactly what your customer searches will increase the likelihood of discoverability whether on Amazon or other online retailers. If you happen to use Kindle Direct Publishing, you may already know you get seven backend keywords, but that’s not the only spot you can slip a fresh set of keywords into. The title and subtitle are two more keyword slots. When you use a specific keyword in your title, you won’t have to use it again in your seven backend keywords.

The subtitle in my updated first book had a few broad keywords in “exercise”, “diet” and “mindset”, as well as the health and happiness part. If I had to do it over again, I would’ve gotten a bit more specific in my subtitle using more specific longtail keywords like, “A Diet & Workout Plan for Beginners.” I’d be tapping into a broad match keyword with “diet plan” and “workout plan for beginners” as two keywords.

And, here’s a little bit of a tip: You win big if you can identify your exact audience in the title. For instance, I used “beginners”, but we could go with other types like “for stay at home moms” or “for men over 55.” The more precise you can be, the better.

While I’m at it, let’s give the original title a facelift. Instead of “The 3 Keys to Greater Health & Happiness”, I can shorten it to “3 Keys to Better Health”. “The” serves no real purpose and merely creates friction for browsing customers. Besides, most search engines would discard “the” in search queries. The main thing was I trimmed the fat and added yet another keyword in “better health.”

By using about 1-3 keywords, you’re increasing your likelihood of discoverability on Amazon and other online retailers, but you have to be tasteful about it. The last major factor is length. I know it seems incredibly appealing to stuff as many keywords into your title as possible, it doesn’t really serve you any good.

Yes, you should leverage keywords for better discoverability, but don’t do it at the detriment of readability and relatability. For instance, have you ever seen those random products on Amazon like this pre-workout drink?

bad titles on amazon

What in the holy alphabet soup is going on here? Did they have a goldfish create the name of this product, because every few seconds, they felt the need to say “pre-workout” four different times with one spelling variation. It’s redundant. Having one is good, but having two doesn’t make it any better. It’s a waste of valuable space and really isn’t proven to drive more traffic. If anything, we could argue it’s too much on the eyes and could be a turnoff for folks.

Nothing screams spammy like a crowded title. For instance, if your title truncates like this…

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

this…

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

or this…

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

You’re overstuffing your title. That’s hardly readable and I’d challenge any of these authors to remember the full title to their books.

For Michael Smith, he nails it on the main title because it has a killer keyword that directly identifies the audience. But, then he lost me at the subtitle. There’s just way too much fat that needs to be trimmed. You be the judge:

Strength Training Over 40: The Only Weight Training Workout Book You Will Need to Maintain or Build Your Strength, Muscle Mass, Energy, Overall Fitness and Stay Healthy Without Living in the Gym.

Here’s an example of an overstuffed title by Walter Franklin Davis. I love the title, but the 190-character subtitle might need a little trimming. He wasn’t using keywords as much as creativity there.

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

In fact, I could argue it’d read much better if it simply said:

The Um-Factor: How to Become a More Fluid, Persuasive, Engaging, & Successful Public Speaker

It’s still a little long, but it gets to the point and doesn’t create as much friction for browsing customers. The rest of those details can fit into the book description. Based on the title and the first part of the subtitle, I clearly know what this is about.

A great example of a tasteful nonfiction title is a book by Allan Dib called:

The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

Allan leveraged keywords, identified his target audience, and infused it with a little personality when closing out with “stand out from the crowd.” Side note: If he used “stand out from the herd” it might’ve been a great keyword choice. But, I appreciate his title more the way he has it, because the “herd” part doesn’t seem like an endearing term.

Real quick, I mean no harm by sharing these examples, so please do NOT harass or beat-up these authors for the opinions I shared. I’ll leave links to these products so you can check them out and grab a copy of their books if you want to support the cause. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book

Let’s look at a couple of ways to choose a title for your nonfiction book.

When I’m putting together a title, I study successful books in my niche. I mind the words used, the audience addressed, and any other relevant points covered in the book. A few good rules to mind when choosing your title:

  1. Develop something that’s uniquely you.
  2. Don’t duplicate somebody else’s title.
  3. Come up with three title variations.

Again, I like to put something in the title that sits well with my gut, has a few keywords, and is brief as possible. Remember, trim excess words. Avoid using another book’s title. Sure, we could talk copyright and potential trademarks, but it’s more about differentiating yourself from other books.

Piggybacking on somebody else’s successful title is a scummy move and if you’re caught doing it, you could face scorn within the author community and potentially litigation if the author takes umbrage.

I’ll come up with three variations of a title and poll my readers and peers. Though my gut serves me pretty well most times, I always appreciate getting outside perspectives.

Researching books within your niche can be time-consuming and often hard to track. You could easily spend days coming up with the ideal title. Let’s skip all that extra time and lean on AI for some assistance.

I’ve been talking about Dibbly Create for the past half year and for good reason. If I had this tool back in 2014, I can’t even begin to think about how much more I would’ve accomplished by now. And, that’s saying something considering I’ve published over fifty titles since starting back then.

Dibbly Create is my preferred cloud-based word processing tool with the integrated AI assistant, KIP. Draft your next book, track notes, leverage AI for research, outlines, and so much more. Today, we’re going to use their Title Generator tool.

You can follow along with me and see what you get on your end. Get a 7-day free trial of Dibbly Create’s Professional Plan. Visit my affiliate link at DaleLinks.com/DibblyCreate. Here’s how you generate a title with Dibbly Create.

How to Title Your Nonfiction Book with AI

Side note: Fiction authors can still use Dibbly Create for title generation.

First, I select KIP in the top right corner, then choose the Title Generator. Next, I’ll select nonfiction since that’s what I’m working on. You’ll see Search Type available, but right now, it’s only available for books and not Kindle Books yet. I’m sure Dibbly Create will have that updated soon.

Now, I’m going to get granular on the type of book I’m working on by selecting the category—also known as a browse path—available on Amazon. The Amazon categories breakdown into three or more distinct virtual bookshelves that narrow down to hyperfocused niches. It starts with the category, subcategory, and placement.

You can easily access these browse paths when you visit a book’s product page, scroll down to the product details, then select any of the listed categories. Keep in mind, if a book hasn’t sold any copies, you won’t see any listed categories.

Back in the Title Generator, I can now select the Category (Level 1), the Category (Level 2), and the Category (Level 3). To further narrow down my market research, I’ll enter a relevant keyword to the book I’m publishing. Then hit the Search button and wait for the data to come back. That usually takes a few minutes, so feel free to pop out of here and continue with whatever you’re doing. For a full onscreen demo, check out my video here. If you’d like to see a case study with Dibbly Create’s Title Generator, visit my project folder at DaleLinks.com/Title.

Dibbly Create scrapes together:

  • Top related keywords
  • Average price for the print book
  • common topics & concepts
  • Suggested titles and subtitles

From time-to-time, the generator will overachieve by giving you a complete title and subtitle. Is it a bad thing? No, it just merely gives you more to work with.

Also, if you notice an absurd average price, it might have to do with the researched niche and the available books. I’m sure you’ve seen some third-party sellers gouging prices for an out-of-print title. That’s most likely what’s messing up that average. However, I reported this to the Dibbly Create team and they’re doing their best to identify the issue and iron it out.

For this small case study using Dibbly Create’s Title Generator, I chose three subniches for popular genres. I whipped together a basic book description of each and tied down a keyword I wanted to target representing that subniche.

Here’s the input for the three case studies:

#1 Time management & productivity

Category: Books > Business & Money > Skills > Time Management

Dive into efficiency with this guide on productivity and time management. Explore practical strategies to set goals, manage time effectively, and enhance overall productivity. Uncover innovative approaches to prioritize tasks, stay organized, and overcome common challenges. Whether you’re aiming for career success or seeking a better work-life balance, this guide provides essential insights for a more fulfilling life. Start your quest to heightened productivity today.


#2 Culinary Travel Experiences

Category: Books > Travel > Food, Lodging & Transportation > Bed & Breakfasts

Explore a tasty adventure with “Global Flavor Journeys,” your passport to delicious food worldwide. Join culinary tours, learn to make tasty treats in cooking classes, and dive into stories about unique dining experiences. With colorful pictures and easy words, this is perfect for those who love yummy food and want to travel with their taste buds. Get ready for a delicious journey around the globe!


#3 Mindfulness & meditation

Category: Books > Religion & Spirituality > New Age & Spirituality > Meditation

Embark on a serene journey with this mindfulness and meditation guide. Discover simple techniques to bring calmness and clarity to your busy life. Explore deep-breathing exercises and practical strategies to enhance focus and relaxation. Gain insights on being present in each moment and effectively managing stress. The guide also shares insightful reflections and thought-provoking exercises to cultivate a tranquil mind. Immerse yourself in this accessible resource that caters to adults seeking a pathway to inner peace and a more mindful existence. Start your journey to a serene and focused mind today.


Again, to see the full results, visit my project folder at DaleLinks.com/Title.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have the title, why don’t we see about diving deeper into fleshing out your next nonfiction book. This is only the third part in an eight-part series, so make sure you catch up to speed with the first post about market research and why it’s a necessity for nonfiction authors. See you there!

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