For Book Titles That Sell, Make it High Concept

January 29, 2010 | Articles | 2 comments

There was a time when I would have argued titles don’t sell books.

I would have been wrong.

Now there is good reason behind my previous thinking. More often than not I don’t remember the actual title to the last book I read. I remember characters or plot or author, but the title, especially with romances, tend to fade. And in a bookstore I don’t grab up a book for the title…cover yeah, but title? No way.

But the fact is titles can sell a book. They can sell it to an editor or an agent. They can sell it to readers. They can even sell it to Hollywood.  Here are a few examples of titles that I believe helped sell the book:

The Naked Duke

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Eat, Sleep, Poop

Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom

Do any of these titles get your attention? They do mine and I guarantee they have helped the success of these books. Why? Because they are high concept. They in seven words or less grab your attention and tell you this book is going to be different while also playing on some concept you already know and love.

The known and popular, but fresh. It’s a killer combo and if you can relay it in a book title you have a very marketable gift.

Another thing about these titles is they all show contrast. They put the unexpected together. Think Duke. You think aristocratic, noble, if you are a romance reader, maybe alpha. You do not think naked. Pride and Prejudice? Well, before this book, your brain certainly didn’t go to zombies. Eat, sleep….fill in the blank. Love? No POOP. (Dreamworks by the way just picked up the rights to make this into a movie. A how to book being made into a comedy! I have to think the title helped that deal come to be.) And finally, soccer mom does not equal demon hunter.

None of these things go together and that is exactly what makes all of us go “Oh, I need to read that.” And that, people, is what makes them high concept.


  1. Colleen

    Those titles definitely are eye catching… I knew of all but the EAT, SLEEP, POOP… when I read this post that one stood out! :wink:

  2. Lori

    That one jumped off the page at me too. :)