A good book title hints at what’s between the covers while also piquing reader interest. It can’t be too confusing, too long, too short, too cheesy or too pretentious.
A title is often one of the most difficult parts of your book to write. That’s why one author recently created a poll on PickFu to weigh two title ideas:
- Option A: D.O.G., Ph.D.: A Year of Conversations With One Very Smart Dog
- Option B: Conversations with Minnie: One Dog’s Perspective on Life
Can you guess which one won?
And the winner is…Option B! With a score of 76 to Option A’s 24, there was no disputing the winner here.
A large chunk of the 50 survey respondents found Option A’s acronym off-putting. Said one respondent, “I think the D.O.G. title is cumbersome and not that interesting.” You have to look at it more than once to catch that D.O.G is an acronym for something — but what?
Even more confusing, it’s followed by Ph.D. That’s six letters to start the title, and not one full word. Plus, some respondents found the way “D.O.G., Ph.D.” sounded to be cheesy. As one respondent said, “[D.O.G., Ph.D.] is corny.”
You don’t want potential readers to roll their eyes before they even open your book.
The Ph.D. feels inaccessible
Another problem with Option A? Respondents found the idea of a dog having a Ph.D. somewhat inaccessible. This made the entire book seem like it would be drily academic.
One respondent said that “most people don’t have Ph.Ds and, at least for me, I think of those folks as being a bit above my social stature.”
Another added that “Option B is catchy and endearing and would appeal to pet owners of all types of educational and intellectual level. Option A, on the other hand, may alienate some based on a perceived higher level of sophistication or reading level.”
In this case, it’s best to make sure that your book appeals to a wide audience of dog-lovers. Not just the intellectual ones.
A dog’s perspective
While some respondents found Option B too cutesy, most liked the personal flavor of the title. They enjoyed knowing the dog’s name — Minnie — and the promise of entering into Minnie’s world.
“It intrigues me,” said one respondent, “to learn the perspective on life from the dog Minnie.”
Another wrote, “Option A…kind of makes me roll my eyes at the concept of an animal having a Ph.D. A dog may be smart, but I’m looking for insights into their world view, not advice.”
The takeaway? People would rather dive into a dog’s perspective than read about a smart dog.
In short: readers don’t want to read about a puppy with a Ph.D. They’d rather skip the acronyms and pseudo-academic language and see a title that promises to put them in a dog’s world.