Many authors, likely their editors and possibly their publishers, have spent sleepless nights deciding on a book’s title. There’s no doubt titles are determining success factors. But when it comes to book promotion and marketing, especially in nonfiction genres, the value of skillfully written subtitles reigns supreme. It’s because the title is an attention-getting statement that’s impactful and possibly provocative, while the subtitle tells people what the book is about. No one browsing online or in a bookstore aisle will take time trying to understand a book’s purpose; therefore, enter the subtitle.
If you’re a nonfiction author finalizing your book, ensure you spend adequate time writing the subtitles, likely in conjunction with your editor. Clarity is king in subtitles, and while you don’t want to be boring, it’s a mistake to make it too cute. The cardinal rule is to provide specific information and explain in the most explicit possible terms what the book covers. Anyone reading the subtitle should get an immediate idea of what will be gained by reading the book. While we’re on that topic, the trick in book marketing is to ensure readers understand why your book is the best one covering its topic.
As you write your subtitle, keep the idea of a press release In mind. It’s as though you’re writing the headline for your press release. Also, because most books today are sold online, don’t forget to use keywords. They’re things people might type into an internet search bar who would be interested in reading your book. If unsure, look at other successful books in your genre for clues. You don’t want to copy them, but you can be inspired by them and make sure your subtitle and marketing materials go a step beyond what already exists. You want to seem new but still easily understandable.
Likely more than anything else, your book’s subtitle will support its marketing campaign. Both try to explain the book, make a case for its value, and spark people’s interest. If you write a great book but fumble on the subtitle or marketing, it may go undiscovered by the media and target readers. As self-publishing made it possible for more people to write and publish books, it has also increased the competition exponentially. People today have more choices than ever before, and your job is to break through the clutter and reach them with your message. It requires clever thinking and a good strategy.