Congratulations on finishing your book or blog post! Give yourself a big pat on the back; you’ve now written a work you can add to your list of accomplishments.
However, now that you’re done writing, there’s one thing left to do: come up with the perfect headline or title. This can be a challenge because it’s hard to describe your work in just a few words. You also know you’ll need a headline that grips attention but isn’t too creatively misleading.
But where do you start when it comes to writing headlines or naming your book? Here’s how you can find the perfect title for what you wrote.
Think about the core topic or themes
When you’re initially coming up with a title, it’s important to boil your work down to the essence of what it’s about.
Start with the main topic or theme. The main theme of your work will most likely be present in the title, so this is a great place to begin. If your writing contains several themes, then write them all down and think about which describes your work best.
Having trouble writing headlines that fit your theme? Ask yourself these questions:
- If I could only use one word to describe my writing, what would it be? This is a great way to start creatively thinking about your work because your title should only use purposeful, meaningful words. Start by finding the one word you’d use and then find the overall theme based on it.
- What makes what I wrote stand out? When titling your book, you don’t want people to think it’s generic or something they’ve seen before. Brainstorm words that can be associated with your theme but express your writing’s uniqueness.
- Can I think of a sentence or phrase that sums up the theme? Think about the sentences that resonate the most with you. Do you think that any words or phrases from these major points can be used when titling your book?
- Is there a major character, object, or subject matter in your work? If your writing contains a character, object, or subject matter that you’re trying to point to, think about if this represents your theme. You can later on use this when writing your headline.
Come Up with Words Related to Your Theme
Once you have your overall theme, it’s time to start delving into ways you can come up with your final title. The next step in the process is to begin diversifying beyond your core message to see if you find new words that are better.
In order to find the perfect title, you’ll want to experiment with a lot of different combinations. Here’s some ways to help get you started.
Write a list of simple buzz words/phrases.
Thinking of a title can start with the very first words or phrases that come to mind. If you wrote about family bonding, write the words “family bonding” on a sheet of paper and then list what else you think of. These words can eventually be used to come up with potential titles.
See where the words take you. You might be surprised to find something you hadn’t thought of before.
Look up Synonyms
Once you’ve made your initial list of words and themes, you can look up similar words to the ones you wrote. Chances are, there’s a fancier, better adjective or noun to use for the title you’re trying to create.
If publishing online, what keywords can you include?
Keywords are the words and phrases people are searching for online. If you’re titling a blog post or self publishing online, it might be worth inserting a word or phrase people are consistently looking for.
While you don’t need to hinge your entire title on search-engines, it’s still worth thinking about. Inserting a keyword or phrase you’re trying to rank for can help boost your results. You can learn more about search-engine optimization in our other article.
Brainstorm a lot of titles
After you’ve made your list, don’t go with the first or second name that comes to mind. Instead, maximize your chances of choosing a title that’s truly interesting by thinking of several ones. This will help you find out what sticks and what inevitably falls flat.
How many titles should you brainstorm? Generally, you should brainstorm ten to twenty titles per work. This ensures you aren’t using the first thing that flies into your brain while giving you the chance to explore different combinations of words.
Think about it: your title is your hook. You’ve most likely clicked something on the internet because the name captured your attention. The goal of your title is to attract a reader that’s interested in reading your work.
Other Things to Consider
Think about the lifetime value of the title you choose. While some writing (such as the news) might be more time sensitive, it’s important to choose a title that maximizes your work’s lifespan. That means you should avoid trendy or goofy words that will only be popular for a short time.
Work that could be read years after it’s published can be marketed and packaged in the future. Think about how the title you choose can impact your overall sales.
Clickbait is creating a title or heading that doesn’t accurately reflect what you wrote. Unfortunately, clickbait is becoming more and more common on the internet as blogs, videos, and social media posts fight to stand out. It’s important to avoid clickbait because it leaves a sense of distrust from the reader since the work didn’t deliver what the reader thought it would.
Here’s a few ways you can avoid clickbaiting readers:
- Be accurate and honest. Don’t stretch the truth of your title, especially if you’re trying to build credibility. You don’t want your readers to immediately feel cheated by the title.
- Don’t be too creative, but try to still be bold. Oftentimes titles try so hard to stand out that they end up unintentionally becoming clickbait. Be confident in what you wrote and know that it will attract readers.
- Give readers the full package. When you publish something, don’t end your work with “you won’t believe what happens next” or “stay tuned for part two.” Even if you are writing something that’s in a series or parts, make sure what you wrote is complete in of itself. This will prevent your readers from feeling like they received only half the content.
Google your Titles
You don’t want to name what you wrote the same thing as someone else, so it’s important to Google your titles. Ideally you’ll want to see virtually nothing when you type in your potential title. This will give you the opportunity to promote and make your work stand out in search engines.
You should also check if anything controversial or strange appears when you look up your potential title. This will help you know if you’ll unintentionally associate your work with something else.
Are you ready to write the perfect title?
Now that you know the steps for coming up with the perfect title, it’s time to come up with yours. Take the time to think about your theme, related words, and how you can catch the attention of future readers.
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