3 Steps to a Good Book Title That Sells

A Good Book TitleWelcome to our weekly guest column by Ezra Barany, the Book Mentor and author of the bestselling novel The Torah Codes. He offers indie novelists important tips, entirely under our control, to help our books be discovered by readers all over the world. This week he focuses on the three elements of a good book title that will help your book sell.


I must admit, I’m struggling. This struggling makes me feel like not eating my ice cream. I’m working on a sequel to my bestselling thriller The Torah Codes and my method for coming up with a good title has turned up zero possibilities.

So why listen to me? Because my method is working. I used the same method to title The Torah Codes, a book that is being stumbled upon across the globe! And what my method is successfully telling me is that all my ideas for titles are no good.

The idea of struggling to come up with a single title might come as a surprise to you. Maybe you think the problem is that there are so many possibilities and the difficulty is choosing one. But the reality is there’s only one good title for your book.

That good title is the one that makes it easiest for readers who have never heard of you or your novel to find your book. If you just make sure your title fits all three elements your book is bound to be found.

The three required elements are:

1) the title must be relevant to your book;

2) the title is a keyword or phrase often searched in Google and in Amazon, and;

3) the title, when put in the Google and Amazon search engines, does not have much competition among the search results.


A Relevant Title

Brainstorm as many possible titles as you can. Try to reach fifty. Figure out the major themes of your book, the lessons to be learned, the location, the traits of your characters, anything and everything that relates so that when the reader reads your book, she’ll say to herself, “Oh, yeah! That’s why it’s titled that.” But here’s something that’s important. Do not have the title be composed of words that are too unknown nor too common. You want phrases that people will type in a search engine.

For my thriller The Torah Codes, the main themes were Bible codes and the Shekinah (the female aspect of God). I created a list of possible titles like “The Bible Codes,” “The Torah Codes,” “Shekinah,” “Shekhina,” “Shekhinah,” (transliterations have different spellings) and so on.

For my sequel, where The Bourne Identity meets The Sixth Sense, the main themes are the Jewish legend of the 36 righteous, the question of why bad things happen to good people, and the challenge of fighting one’s inner demons. The truth is I haven’t done the first step for this book of making a list of titles. That’s probably why I’m struggling so much. Instead, I’ve been brainstorming ideas without writing them down. Ideas like “The 36,” “The 36 Righteous,” “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” “Fighting Inner Demons,” “Jacob Wrestles an Angel,” “Wrestling an Angel,” and so on. So don’t be like me. Instead, write all your ideas down.


The Title as a Coveted Keyword

The question to ask is “Which title is the most searched term on Google every month?” Go to Google’s Adwords Keyword tool and type in all of your titles. When you click on the search button, you’ll get the results on how many people search your term locally and how many search your term globally. For now, ignore the competition column.  When I did a search for my first book, “bible codes” got the most searches, currently at 60,500 global searches a month. Second to that was “Torah codes,” at 49,500 global searches a month.

For my second book, none of the terms brought search results higher than 1,000 global searches a month. And you want something between 10,000 to 100,000 global searches a month*. So I looked beneath my search results to the list of related search terms. Scanning those gave me some ideas. There’s already a book, similar to mine, called The Righteous Men with 9,900 global searches monthly. It’s not 10,000 but it’s close enough. If I titled mine The 36 Righteous Men, then I’d be able to ride the coat tails of that other thriller.

From the looks of it, most of the searches for “The Righteous Men” are specifically targeted to find that other thriller, “The Righteous Men.” Do I feel guilty for taking away his book sales? No! Because I’ll actually be helping his book sales! When I promote my book, people who look up “The 36 Righteous Men” will also find his book, so it’s a win-win situation. Seems like The 36 Righteous Men is a good title. So maybe my method worked after all. 😉


The Title With Little Competition

Now that you have narrowed down your brainstorm list to three or four highly-searched keywords for your title, make sure there’s only one to three other websites or books that use those titles. Ideally, zero is best. You can check the competition column in the Google Adwords Keyword tool to see if your title has low, medium, or high competition. Once you confirm they have low competition, go to Amazon and do a search for your three or four possible titles.

When I did a search for “The Bible Codes,” a ton of books came up. In the Google search engine, there were also tons of websites about Bible codes. When I checked “The Torah Codes,” no books came up and very few websites came up in Google. I clearly found a winning title!

I made a website called www.TheTorahCodes.com to make the Google search term come straight to me, and on Amazon my book is at the top of the search results. When you find that unique (low competition) and often-searched book title, be sure to set up a website whose URL is the title of your book. Then, once your book is published, congrats! You’ve set up a great system for people to easily stumble upon your book! Now you can eat ice cream.

*I gleaned this information from a lecture by RC Peck.


Book marketing mentor, Ezra Barany is the author of the award-winning bestseller, The Torah Codes. Contact Ezra today to begin the conversation on how he can help you now via FacebookTwitter, or contact him through this blog, or email: EZRA at THETORAHCODES dot COM.

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  • Ack, I’m scared to even type my title in! Very interesting post…

  • Ezra Barany says:

    Jenny, be afraid. Be very afraid. 😉

    The title is just one way to get people to notice you. There are dozens of other ways to still get noticed. I’ll talk more about those methods in future posts. But in a nutshell, use other people’s lists, create backlinks on comments to blogposts, set up a paper.li system, offer one of your best books free on Amazon, and, well, that’s all the really good ones I can think of at the moment.

  • shah wharton says:

    You’ve made me wonder whether ti change my titles now. I’ve planned a book series and all the titles went together and now, it seems I may need to change them after I did a search and nothing came up. Not one! And having to make a website too – i already have three blogs 🙁 Darn it! And does that mean you need a separate we site for every book? Seems extreme. I’m going to have to think long and herd on this. 🙁 Thanks for the insight.

  • Ezra Barany says:

    Hi, Shah. When I wrote this post I didn’t intend to sadden already published indie authors. A solution that comes to mind, for all of you out there that feels like they messed up their title and feel they should fix it, is to find the key word or phrase that has the most hits and least competition, then add a subtitle to your title. No need to change the cover. Your title can be something like “The Kinir Elite; the elf wars” or “Saleminn, customs of witches (a tale of horror).” On Barnes & Noble (I believe), my book is listed as “The Torah Codes; a heart pounding thriller with appendix essays by Jefferey Satinover,…” (and five other names are listed). Having all those names also helps with the search engine, but damn, that’s a long title!

    I hope this helps!

  • PW Creighton says:

    SEO’ing the title of your work. Very novel idea, it works for blogging why not turn it on the actual product?

  • Chihuahua0 says:

    Hmm…Manifestation Files.

    1) Manifestations are the fantasical antagonists of the book. “Files” is only there to put a good ring to it.

    2) I’m sure the word “files” is searched often.

    3) Google only returns my results for “manifestation files”.

  • Ezra Barany says:

    I noticed “manifestation files” didn’t have many monthly searches, but “manifest file in .net” had 590 monthly searches, and “exe manifest file” also had 590 monthly searches. And I’m guessing those that look up “manifest file in .net” and “exe manifest file” are not looking for fantastical antagonists. It’s good that Google only returns your results for “manifestation files,” though. At least, once people have already heard of your book, your book won’t be buried among dozens of websites with the same keyword. 🙂

  • […] read an interesting post the other day which suggested how best to choose a title for a book. It […]

  • alexa says:

    Hi Ezra. Nice post and great idea! just wondering how important is it to register the domain name of your book title, if you just did the other things you mention but didn’t do that?
    Thanks, Alexa

  • Ezra Barany says:

    Hi Alexa. The purpose of the domain name is to be discovered on Google’s search engine. While it may not be necessary to have the domain name be your book title, I recommend getting a domain name that has low competition and high searches, and that promises the experience your book will give them.

    For example, say everyone suddenly had an urge for reading a murder mystery where the victim is a super hero and the only ones left to solve the crime are the police? People will be doing searches for “death of a superhero” or “superhero victim mystery.” That’s a case where there’s almost no other websites who offer such books.

    So all these hungry readers are looking up “death of a superhero” and you’ve got a book called Wonder Woman’s Demise. It would be better to get a domain name “death-of-a-superhero.com” because you’ll reach your market easier.

    Anyone doing searches for “Wonder Woman” will get a elephant-load of websites about Wonder Woman, way too much competition. And if they happen to find yours, they’ll likely be very upset to see your site is about the death of Wonder Woman.

    In a nutshell, yes! Get a domain name for your book, but be sure the name is constantly searched on Google and has little to no competition. If you already have a website, you can still get a domain name that forwards to your site.

    Does that help? 🙂

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