Which One Won? Understanding what makes a good book title

When someone mentions cyber hackers, you usually think, ugh! Those people who can breach my computer’s privacy and steal my information and money? I stay away from them.

But what if you needed people to see the other side of cyber hackers, and you decided to write a book about it? What type of title would convince readers to look past their negative assumptions and get them to pick up your book?

One author created a PickFu poll to answer this question.

Option A’s title is The Cyber Crisis: Why the Hackers We Fear are the Hackers We Need.

Option B is Cyber Soldiers: How Hackers Can Save Us.

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is… Option A! Option A won with a score of 56 to Option B’s 44. Results were fairly consistent across age and gender.

“Soldiers” is off-putting

While a few male respondents liked Option B’s use of the word soldier, many respondents felt turned off by the implied sacrifice and violence in the term.

Others took the usage more personally. Said one female, “I don’t want any book about fighting to mention soldiers these days. I have a friend who was in the army, and the VA is messing up her life and her health.”

Other respondents with personal ties to the military felt the same way. The word is too loaded to serve the right purpose in a book title about cyber hackers.

Showing both sides is helpful

Respondents who voted for Option B liked the title’s brevity, but the majority of respondents thought Option B was too short. Most importantly, it failed to show both sides of cyber hacking like Option A does.

In Option A, the title acknowledges that cyber hackers are scary. One respondent felt that Option A better captured the conflicting emotions we feel when we think of cyber hackers.

This respondent also said, “There are hackers that we are afraid of – but wait – they are the ones we need. It is a good contradiction and makes the reader curious about learning more.”

A clear title implies extensive research

Unlike Option B, Option A’s title first acknowledges that there’s a cyber crisis, and then that the hackers we’re terrified of can actually help us through this crisis.

Option B is vague. And for a nonfiction book, a vague title is a red flag.

“I prefer [Option] A…[because] it sounds like it will be more well-researched,” said one respondent. It’s critical to think about which title suggests a more authoritative viewpoint.

Key takeaways

If you’ve written a book about something usually considered negative like cyber hacking, your title needs an extra push to convince readers to pick it up.

To help you achieve this goal, avoid using loaded words such as soldier. Infuse your title with the complex emotions your book grapples with. Don’t be afraid to let the title go long to give you room to do this.

Finally, make sure your title is clear and hints at the extensive research and thought you’ve put into the book!

If you’re ready to see which title attracts readers to your nonfiction book about a touchy subject, create a PickFu poll. You can even target nonfiction readers!


Learn More:Authors improve their book marketing efforts by using PickFu to test book titles and covers with potential readers targeted by literary preferencenumber of books read per month, and more.

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