Naming Your Book: Is it Okay to Have the Same Title as Others?

Guest Post by Irene Watson

Why would anyone name their hard work,  pride, and joy the same as someone else?  Naming books is not like naming people.  Naming books is about creating your own brand, your own identity, and your own place in the reading circles.

While doing research I found this:

“Dying to Live”   – Library of Congress reports  17 books with that title, Amazon reports 108 entries with “Dying to Live” either as the title or in the sub-title.

Can you imagine the confusion of someone trying to find the book they actually were looking for by this title?  Can you imagine having an option of 17 or more books with the same title?  Let’s face it, we are human;  we do have curiosity so we would naturally start looking at the other books and I can venture to say that it’s a good possibility the potential reader may choose another book, and not the one he or she was originally looking at – yours.

As well, if you happen to be number 18 to name your book “Dying to Live” know that the domain name is long gone and it’s not even owned by an author. For SEO purposes, having a domain name the same as your book is very important.  You don’t have to use that specific domain but at least have it point to your website.

So, let’s talk about creating titles.  Your book’s title has more than one function. Besides identifying your story, the title of a book has to attract attention and create interest. The title can make a difference whether or not someone will buy it.

First of all, the title should be short; something easy to remember but most of all, something that can be pronounced.  Not long ago I was coaching an author and he refused to consider that the title of his book is not easy to pronounce, let alone be remembered.  The title of his book was a word that doesn’t exist, one he made up, and the pronunciation wasn’t phonetic.  The last I checked  he sold less than 125 books over a two year period.  Was it because of the title?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, I’m confident in saying that it may have had something to do with it.  In his case the title of the book didn’t do his book justice.

The title of the book should be descriptive, especially if the book is nonfiction.  The subtitle of the book should, in five or six words, tell the potential reader exactly what is in the book. For fiction books, you could be a little more creative.

Here are some questions to answer before creating a title:

  • What would someone type into a search engine to find a book like yours?
  • What SEO keywords would create your title?
  • What other words, using the thesaurus, will expand your key words or are commonly used?
  • What are the key elements in your book?

Okay, so this covers those authors that are in the process of writing a book, but what about those of you that already published a book and have a title. What do you do?  My answer to you is go to your website and revisit your keywords.  Are they SEO friendly?  Are they searchable by a search engine?  Are you using long tail when adding your keywords?  Work on those for now and when creating your next book, take the time to generate a title that works.

Comments Please!

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.


Posted on October 17, 2010, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. These are helpful guidelines. I especially like the reminder that names should be expressive of the actual content of the book. There are titles that I ordered for reviewing and they turned out very different from what their names expressed.Also, some authors choose very long subtitles, which sounds rather odd. In fact, it feels as if they are just starting a discussion right on the book cover. I like sub-titles that are not very long and are carefully worded. Erenst

  2. I usually give the OK to unusual or odd titles as long as the subtitles have a lot of relevant keywords in them. Professionals recommend using puns or unusual turns of phrase which create irony, interest, and memorable linesExamples: "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes:The subtitle is loaded with keyword goodies for SEO which reflect what it is about "urban" life, "nursing homes", and "hospice". Without the title to back it up, it would be boring as hell. So you need both: snappy title AND keyword loaded subtitleOther examples from our catalogJungle King Secrets: A Libido-Liberating Lifestyle For Superior Sexual SatisfactionConfessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic ..and… our #1 bestseller of all timeGot Parts?: An Insider's Guide to Managing Life Successfully with Dissociative Identity Disorder Many people told me this was a terrible title, it wouldn't sell, it used a dead cultural reference (the old "got milk?" campaign), and on and on and on. This book was our #1 title for more than two years and still the best for lifetime sales record. Same formula: punchy title, keyword-bearing subtitles.Remember that you can't copyright a title, only a book. If there are no competing books in print with the same title in the last 10 years, I say you might have a case for using it again. Why not? Everyone else is re-using old titles for new books.However, I do believe "Dying to Live" is a boring, cliched title. No doubt another 109 books will be published with this phrase in the title.

  3. A book title should be easy to spell. I named a book, "Bushwhackers and Broken Hearts," unaware that many people don't know how to spell bushwhacker. They leave out the second h.

  4. Hi Irene,What gems you have included in this week's newsletter! I, too, think a title is one of the most important components in especially the marketing of the book. I almost always look at the title first and if it doesn't intrigue me I won't buy it. Of course, if it's one of my favorite authors I'll buy it no matter what the title is. I've written a fiction trilogy about the adventures of a red headed lass who has a spirit guide that is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse. He's always getting in her way with wisdom. I titled the first book, "The Box", the second one "The Stone" and the third one, "The Photo" and each title referred to one of the most important things in the story. (I haven't published any of them yet, looking for an agent). Last year a movie came out called "The Box". I did a search on to see how many books had that title. I finally stopped counting. Then, after much thought, I changed the title to "The Legacy" (after checking amazon and finding out no books came up with that title). I printed out your editorial and will refer to it whenever I need to come up with another title (I have 5 novels and 5 other non fictions I have not yet published. But four of mine have been published so I'm fortunate). And speaking of that, thank you so much for featuring my newly published, It's Your Choice! Decisions That Will Change Your Life on your newsletter. Speaking of titles, I originally named that one Blue Skies and Green Lights -but my publisher didn't like that title so we went with a different one. Take care and many blessings on you for this newsletter and everything you do to help authors.Margie

  5. Thank you very much. I am wonderring if i can share your article in the replica rado watchesbookmarks of society,Then more friends can talk about this problem.

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