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If you’re writing a book aimed at people who have a certain religious affiliation and you want to get the title and subtitle just right, split test your options with a targeted audience. That’s what one author did in this PickFu poll, choosing 100 respondents who identify as Christians. The results are intriguing.

Here are the four titles and subtitles:

  • The Gospel / An Understanding That Could Change Your Life (Option A)
  • GameChanger / A Gospel Understanding That Changed My Life (Option B)
  • The Gospel / An Understanding That Will Change Your Life (Option C)
  • And Now My Eye Sees Thee / A Gospel Understanding That Changed My Life (Option D)

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…Option C, The Gospel / An Understanding That Will Change Your Life, with a score of 62. Option B was second with a score of 38. Option A notched 22, followed closely by Option D’s 18.

Let’s find out what the panel had to say about these titles.

Comforting forcefulness

Several respondents liked the direct tone and optimism of Option C. “I really like [Option C] as it is forceful and appealing. Saying that reading the book will change your life will definitely turn a lot of heads,” one person said.

“The idea that something will change my life is appealing,” said another.

The assertiveness of the word will in Option C as opposed to could in Option A stood out to more than a few respondents.

“[Option C] focuses on me and essentially guarantees a promise: it will change my life. Not it ‘could’ change my life,” one wrote.

It seems readers respond to a book title that promises them something directly and isn’t shy about making that claim.

Shorter is better

Many respondents didn’t like the wordiness of Option D or, as one respondent put it, its “quaint” language.

Others said GameChanger in Option B was an overused phrase and not a good fit for the book’s subject matter.

“I don’t like the title GameChanger because that word is kind of tacky and doesn’t necessarily relate to religion,” said one person.

Simple and to the point works best, respondents said.

“Option C is the title that to me is the best choice here…the title is short and to the point, and it doesn’t try to be too creative,” one person wrote.

“I prefer Option C because it sounds positive and uplifting, yet simple,” said another.

Key takeaways

In this poll, one word — will instead of could — made all the difference.

When you’re writing a religious book, especially a self-help book, make the title assertive and positive. This is no time to sound wishy-washy.

Resist the urge to work biblical verses into your title, which might make it sound “old-fashioned” or “overly religious,” as some respondents said. Use simple, clear language instead.

Want to learn more about how to target niche audiences when split testing on PickFu? Read our guide to audience targeting.

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Laura Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle grade novel, Missing Okalee, comes out from Shadow Mountain Publishing in the fall of 2021. Find her online at lauraojedamelchor.com.

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