Did that headline get your attention? It was intentional. There are two key words in it, “revolutionary” and “success,” that are trigger words to make you read what I have written. When the word “publishing” is added it targeted the readers of this blog. And to top it off it was made personal by using the word “your.”
It is possible to make this “revolutionary” keyword work in a number of ways:
Revolutionary Secrets for Your Cooking Success
Revolutionary Tips for Making You Wealthy
Revolutionary Hair Products to Solve Your Hair Loss
Revolutionary Techniques to Improve Your Writing
Revolutionary Headlines to Make Your Ideas Sell
Some call this “click bait” meaning a way to hook your mind to want to click that headline to read the content. There is a science to copy writing. See this article for an example, “Six Characteristics of Top-Notch Copy.”
Yes, it feels like cheating to write “Read This and Make a Million Dollars!” instead of “Ten Ways to Make Some Money.” It feels like manipulation. And it is. We can discuss the merits or lack thereof, but there is a nugget of truth here.
If you don’t have a good title on your book or your article or your blog post, it reduces the chance of someone reading it. And isn’t that the point? Like the adage, if a trees falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it… If no one reads your words were they ever written? Well, of course they were. And we know that the writing experience can be an extraordinary thing for the writer. But the point I’m trying to make is that we should be thinking all the time about how we present our ideas and materials to the reading marketplace.
Publishers will often have titling meetings where variations are batted around for hours. And not just the title. The subtitle and even the back cover copy and online catalog copy can be debated.
A great title is often the first step to a well-published project.
What is a recent headline that caught your attention, when you weren’t looking for it?
What book title caught your eye?
Timely post, Steve. Thanks.
I agree with Rebekah, that I read your posts because you wrote them. But we’re writers; we’re focused. And readers have thousands of choices. How does a new author get that reader to pick up a book by a new author?
I’m preparing for ACFW Nashville, and hopefully the opportunity to talk to you about my book. As I put my book proposal together, following the guidelines for your agency, I paused at “promo sentence” and “sales handle.” Those were fun to brainstorm.
And with the “click bait” or “pick up my book” marketing, I always think of the cover design, along with the title, subtitle, and back cover copy. I realize the writer gets little say in the decisions of the publisher for cover design. But we can dream. We can visualize it. We can present our ideas.
Thanks for the post.
I have bought more than a few books because of a great title only to suffer profound disappointment over the content. It’s seems the title was the best writing of the entire book.
Christine L. Henderson
Here’s a title that caught my eye at a conference. Why I Get Into Trouble. It’s a book that explains the concept of sin to young children.
One of my blog posts headlines that I was surprised didn’t get more attention was… Why do I bother? Tips for staying motivated.
I agree with Rebekah and Peter. If an article/blog/book doesn’t live up to its tantalizing headline, it’s much more disappointing because expectations were higher. So we must be sure to spend just as much time and effort making the content excellent as we do making sure the headline “grabs.”
Sheri Dean Parmelee
The title that I bought recently was “If you don’t want people to drive you crazy, don’t give them the keys.” The book did not quite live up to its title but I did enjoy it nonetheless.
I’m sitting here trying to think of titles that have caught my attention, but I’m going to admit that it’s often the book cover that sells me the book before the title does.
But here are a few titles that caught my attention.
Help, Thanks, Wow
Aunt Erma’s Cope Book
Looking for Alaska
Let Them Eat Cake
When the author is Steve, Dan, Tamela, or Karen, the title makes very little difference. I know the blog is going to be meaty. However, an intriguing title does pique my interest and may make me get to the blog faster.
But if the content doesn’t measure up, the most tantalizing title in the world is simply going to make me wary of that author next time out.
I have purchased two books because of the title alone. The first was called “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day.” It was a little self-helpy, but the title still sticks with me.
The second was “Jesus Mean and Wild.” I liked the word play (Jesus meek and mild), and thought it sounded provocative. The message and the writing did NOT disappoint. 🙂
Beyond the Silence and I to the Free caught my attention. Perhaps the book title best captures the reader’s eye if the title hints at the theme or a reoccurring symbol throughout the book. But for me, however, if the blurb attracts me after the tirle, then that’s a sale. Boom.