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Awesome! The Why and How of One-word

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Awesome! The Why and How of One-word Titles

by Susan Kendrick

One of the most powerful and reliable book-title strategies is the one-word wonder. A quick look shows the effect one-word titles have on our collective psyche and on our buying habits.

Here are several of them, most from the New York Times bestseller lists:

Giving (by Bill Clinton)

Blink (by Malcolm Gladwell)

Freakonomics (by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner)

Godless (by Ann Coulter, who has done other books with one-word titles)

Leadership (by Tom Peters, the first in a series of four books with one-word titles)

Winning (by Jack and Suzy Welch)

The authors of most of these books are well known. And that’s the point for you. Using a one-word title gives your book that same presence, that I’ve-already-arrived kind of authority, the sense that you are the leader in your field. 

Here’s why these titles work:

They make the greatest visual impact on your front cover—the fewer the words, the more likely you are to create a powerful billboard effect.

Their simplicity makes them sound authoritative.

They turn a common word into something dramatic, now associated with your book.

They work well with subtitles that clinch sales with information about who a book is for, what it’s about, and what the reader will get out of it.

They are often easier to create than titles that require coming up with the right mix of several well-chosen words.

They are easy to remember, which can increase the chances that people who hear your title even once will remember it long enough to buy it. 

Now let’s dissect these one-word titles to see exactly how they work. 

Giving and Winning are positive or desired acts.

Blink is a verb, a command to do something, take action.

Freakonomics is a new term, in this case one that combines two seemingly opposing ideas for the first time. It rocks the boat and takes us in a new direction.

Godless is an adjective, a condition; it suggests a problem or a controversy.

Leadership is a noun, a discipline; the word signals that the book speaks to an entire broad field of people. 

These titles use a proven formula from the world of products, celebrities, and movies. A name like Nike, Apple, Google, Bono, Tiger, Rocky, Coors, or Coke is more than just a product, a person, or a way to kick back on a Saturday night. Each of these words has become a worldwide brand. Granted, there is more to them and their creation than just the name, but one word gave them their star appeal. Your book will also have to live up to the promise of its good name. But again, one word will help it stand out from the crowd and get noticed, right from the start.

How to Create a One-Word Wonder

One-word book titles are an overstatement or oversimplification of your topic.

Say it like it is, “My book is about _______,” and create a list of possible titles that way.

Try keyword searches to find what words other people use when they look for information on your topic. This will also put you ahead in Web searches when you post about your book on Web sites and blogs.

The URL Advantage

To make it as easy as possible for people to find your book on the Web through its one-word title, you’ll want to secure the title as a domain name. Anyone who has done any searching for domain names knows how hard that can be. For book titles like Giving, Blink, or Winning, or for the one-word book title you have in mind, it’s especially challenging. Let’s face it, the kinds of common, everyday words that make great one-word book titles are usually already taken as domain names, and in many forms. But there are ways to make it work.

For instance, you can create an URL that shows it is specifically for a book (see the first few suggestions in the list below). And if your one-word title is not being used in a similar field or industry, you can take advantage of more options (like “place” and others below) that establish your domain name not just in relation to your book, but as your overall business brand that you are using this book to build.

To create this kind of book-title URL, add words to or otherwise modify the book title until you hit on a URL that is available. You can also experiment with using prefixes and endings together. Whatever you choose, remember that the URL has to be easy to say, easy to hear, and most of all—easy to remember.

Here are 15 ideas to get you started, with the blank representing the book title in each.
















Need more?

As you can see, the list can go on and on. Consider adding words like go, plus, or ultimate. Ideally, you won’t find just one appropriate available URL; you’ll find many that will help you throughout your book-marketing efforts and that will secure the brand for your book and your business.

Remember: The real secret to these titles is that they’re easy—easy to say, easy to remember, and easy to talk about. That makes them easy to promote and easy to love.

Susan Kendrick and Graham Van Dixhorn of Write To Your Market, Inc., specialize in positioning and branding books to sell. They also develop book titles, subtitles, back-cover sales copy, testimonials, and other buy-me-now book-cover copy to help their clients, who have won 21 major book awards—Ben Franklin, IPPY, ForeWord Magazine, and DIY—in the last five years alone. To learn more, visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.writetoyourmarket.com/” o “http://www.writetoyourmarket.com/” www.WriteToYourMarket.com and get daily book-cover coaching at BookCoverCoaching.blogspot.com.



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