Six great formulas for writing a nonfiction title

To successfully market a nonfiction book, you’ll want a powerful title that grabs the reader. Unlike fiction, however, the nonfiction book not only has to catch the readers’ attention but give the reader an instant sense of what the book is about. As you compete with hundreds and sometimes even thousands of books writing about your topic, such a title will make your book stand out, which in turn means readers are more likely to click on it at Amazon.com or to pull it off a shelf at a bookstore.

While there are no shortage of ways to achieve that, a few common formulas stand out.

(Keyword): (subhead elaborates)
The keyword is a single word or phrase that describes the book’s topic; a reader might look for your book by typing it into a search engine. The subhead tells more about the keyword/topic by narrowing its focus in a way that appeals to readers (usually by appealing to a need they are seeking to meet). Some examples of this title formula include:
• Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
• Heart Intelligence: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart
• The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

(Number) (Topic)
Numbers often are effective in attracting attention; readers either want small numbers so that an seemingly overwhelming skill or subject feels manageable or they want a large number to they feel like they’re getting a deal. The topic actually tells what the book is about. Just how effective are numbers? Take out the numbers from the following examples of this formula and see how they then feel flat:
• The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
• 501 Ways to Market Your Book
• 1825 Easy Crock Pot Recipes

How to…(result)
Often readers search for a nonfiction book to solve some problem they may have. This title directly tells them that reading it will solve their problem by giving the result of following its advice. It often mimics questions that readers type into a search engine. Examples include:
• How to Win Friends and Influence People
• How to Make Money Blogging
• How to Draw Comic Book Heroes

A variations of this is How to…(result) in (time). The approach shows how a seemingly difficult task can be mastered in very little time if you follow the technique described in the book. Titles using this strategy include:
• Lean in 15: 15-Minute Meals and Workouts to Keep You Lean and Healthy
• 7 Minutes a Day to a Self-Published Book
• Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

(Topic) Secrets
Some skills or fields seem so baffling to readers that they believe if they just knew its “secrets,” then they, too, could master it. This formula plays off that psychology, sometimes incorporating the added grabbing power of a number. To wit:
• Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success
• Top 101 Incredible Minecraft Secrets You Need To Know
• Blogging for Cash: Online Income Secrets Revealed

The Art of (result)
This approach also appeals to readers seeking to solve a problem. “Art” implies a more humanistic and craft-oriented than an empirical, step-by-step approach to addressing the issue. For example:
• The Art of Mental Training – A Guide to Performance Excellence
• The Art of Being Mindful
• The Art of Investing: Trading Stocks

The Science of (result)
Though seemingly a variation of “The Art of…” this approach appeals to people who prefer techniques based on observation and verification. The books usually focus on a more “practical” or “grounded” topic, or at least uses that strategy in addressing the subject. Such titles include:
• The Science of Getting Rich
• The Science of Parenting
• The Science of Being Great