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December 9, 2006

Naming: Can You Judge a Book by Its Title?

Doppelganger has a great post linking to Sunday’s New York Times article by Henry Alford entitled “Name That Book” that has some truly wacky (and apparently authentic) proposed alternate titles to famous bestselling books.

Valley of the Dolls, for instance, was originally to be titled “They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen.” As Alford points out, “when it comes to naming a book, the only constant is change.” This seems to resonate with some “unusual author names,” including Urban Grosskipper von Wipper, Ole Worm, Bishop Frediricus Nausea, Homer Hasenpflug Dubs, and O. Heck and O. Hell.

But do titles, or weird author names, really matter? Book expert Donna Bennett has the inside lowdown on what sells a book. Book cover designs do affect the buy decision, it seems, but only for 7% of buyers. The majority of people surveyed make the choice based on “a friend’s recommendations."

As far as non-fiction titles go, Don Nicholas and Kim Mateus point us to a “simple formula for writing compelling book titles, PR headlines or email subjects”: combine your customer's greatest need with your product's greatest benefit. I think John Jantsch took that advice in naming his new book.

That advice works well for brand name development, too.

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Posted by Diane Prange at December 9, 2006 8:08 AM
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