Book titles have to draw readers into a story and get them excited about reading it. They also have to set the right expectations. Finding this balance can be tricky.
In this PickFu poll, an author tested two book titles with a 50-person general audience, asking which book they would rather read:
- The Girl in the White Ranch (Option A)
- The Girl Who Didn’t Tell (Option B)
Can you guess which one won?
And the winner is…Option B, The Girl Who Didn’t Tell, with a final score of 82 to Option A’s 18. Let’s find out what respondents had to say.
A mystery? Do tell
Option B would have you believe the book revolves around a secret, lie, or mystery, which respondents said makes it all the more appealing.
“[Option B] sounds intriguing,” one respondent wrote. “What didn’t she tell? Should she have told? I want to know more.”
Another respondent said they wanted to know “why she didn’t tell.”
In other words, The Girl Who Didn’t Tell brings up a lot of questions. And when it comes to creating a book title that sells, that’s a good thing.
Option A, which got only 9 out of 50 votes, was too generic and vague, according to some respondents.
It “just sounds like a girl in a house,” one person wrote.
We read books to immerse ourselves in other peoples’ lives. That helps explain why respondents preferred Option B. The title immediately implies there’s a secret or maybe even a scandal in the book. It gets the reader to start asking questions and gives them something to look forward to.
- Male and female respondents voted similarly, with more than 80% choosing Option B over Option A (there were no non-binary respondents)
- 21-to-24-year-olds were evenly split between the two options; among other age groups, Option B was the favorite
- 30.8% of respondents with a graduate degree preferred Option A
What they said
“My choice [Option B] has more suspense to it. It leaves me with more questions that I will have to read the book to answer.”
“I would want to read Option B. Its title sounds like a mystery or thriller novel and that piques my curiosity more than one that sounds like a typical romance novel. Option A sounds like a romance novel name and I would pick a mystery/thriller over it to read.”
“Without any other information I thought [Option] B conveyed a greater sense of suspence and mystery.”
“Option B seems more exciting, like there is a secret to unfold.”
“This sounds like a mystery to me, something I would enjoy. Option A sounds like a romance novel.”
“They both are pretty bad titles, but I guess [Option] B is the better one.”
More than one person mentioned that Option A sounds like a romance novel, which turns them off.
We don’t actually know the genre of this book. If we did, would it change the results of this poll? The author might consider including the genre and running another poll to test the titles with readers who prefer that genre.
It’s also worth noting that two respondents didn’t like either title. Are they in the demographic that the author is trying to reach?
Want to dive deeper?
Results by commonly used words:
Results by education level:
Results by relationship status:
Results by racial or ethnic identity: