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When poll results are inconclusive, it can feel like something went wrong, or like your survey wasn’t valuable. But is that the case?

In a recent poll, a science fiction author tested three potential titles for a book, asking 50 general population respondents, “Which science fiction book title is catchier?”

  • Option A: Liminal.
  • Option B: Soul Harbor
  • Option C: Impermanent Universe.

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…not Option A, which only earned 18 points. But Options B and C tied at 50 points each.

So what’s an author to do?

The most important thing is to dig into the comments and figure out if there’s a trend as to why the two winners were tied.

Here’s what we learned when we dug in.

Confusion and drudgery

Of the voters who chose Option B (Soul Harbor), many felt that both that title and Option C (Impermanent Universe) were much better than Option A (Liminal), but they felt confused as to what Impermanent Universe could mean.

Others felt that Option C “tried too hard” or was “unspecific.”

As one respondent who voted for Option B put it, “Soul Harbor is something I understand so I picked that one. Impermanent Universe is interesting but not something I would normally hear. I never heard of liminal as a word before so picked that one last.”

Another wrote, “Soul Harbor is easier to process and read. Impermanent Universe is too long with way too many syllables.”

In short, the these voters found Soul Harbor the catchiest of all the titles.

Now, let’s see what respondents had to say about Option C.

Most likely to be a sci-fi title

Respondents who voted for Option C overwhelmingly felt that Impermanent Universe sounded the most science-fiction-like of all the titles.

Soul Harbor is catchy,” said one respondent, “But doesn’t fit with the Sci-Fi genre. Impermanent Universe does both.”

Another agreed, saying, “Soul Harbor doesn’t sound very sci-fi to me.”

Here’s the thing: there’s a devoted world of sci-fi readers out there. Would respondents have unequivocally loved Option C if they were already science fiction readers? Or would they have preferred Option A?

They probably would not have chosen Option B, even though it was a tied winner in this poll.

Key takeaways

The key takeaway here is that when you have an inconclusive poll with a general audience, it’s well worth it to re-test the titles to an audience of book lovers, and especially sci-fi readers.

On PickFu, you can select an audience of fiction readers to help you choose a catchy title that will sell to your sci-fi loving audience.

Are you ready to find the best title for your book? Create your own poll on PickFu today.

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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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