People need to know what a book is about to become interested in buying and reading it. It’s a simple fact of book marketing that endures through the years, and as a result, subtitles are essential. They do the heavy lifting in creating reader and media understanding of a book’s content, making titles more attention-getting and provocative. Books become famous when they meet people’s needs for knowledge and entertainment. When target readers browse bookselling websites or the shelves of brick-and-mortar shops, much competes for their attention. Your book must explain itself to do well.
When you write a book, there is no doubt you want to put significant effort into writing the perfect titles. But as crucial as that process is, be sure to give the subtitle equally careful consideration. When confronted by a new book, everyone asks, “What is it about?” The subtitle will clearly explain it in nearly every case for a nonfiction title. If you’ve never focused on subtitles, check out other books in your genre. You’ll quickly see that clear, descriptive subtitles make books most desirable and understandable. There is somewhat of a formula for writing subtitles, which can be helpful.
The first rule of thumb is to provide specific information. The creativity belongs in your book’s title, and the clarification goes in the subtitle. The point is to explain what your book is about in a few words. Overly long subtitles can cost people’s attention or come at the expense of clarity. Consider writing a headline for your book as you consider wording for its subtitle. If you want to be an internet-search-savvy author, try for a subtitle that contains keywords describing your book. If you can add them to a subtitle that clearly defines your book for prospective readers, it’s a win-win situation.
Some creativity in subtitle writing is helpful to keep them fresh and attention-getting getting, but be careful about going overboard. Nothing should come at the expense of clear, easy-to-understand information. Then, if you’re self-publishing, it’s wise to work with an experienced cover designer. Ideally, your book’s title, subtitle, and cover design will work well together. They create a package that makes people want to pick up your book, learn more about it, and purchase a copy. It comes back to competition and how little time you have to make an impression and get someone’s attention; when you do, you’ll sell books.
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