Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brainstorm Your Way to the Perfect Book Title

Today, we named another book. The manuscript was originally written without the title; but with a focused objective in mind. That's an important key to remember, because that helped us create a laser-like approach to finding a title that would:
  • Attract an audience
  • Show up in organic searches
  • Appeal to corporate bulk purchasers, and
  • Jump off the shelves
Our job today, along with our client, was to join together marketing genius, public relations hooks, editorial experience, distributor and bookstore rules, creative design, and the author knowing her audience inside and out. All of these pieces formed the foundation of our final book title. Brainstorming was (and always is) the key to releasing the perfect title from the depths of the manuscript -- even if the eventual result seems so obvious when it's reached.

I can't divulge the book or the title we were working on, but I would like to share our rules and methods of brainstorming this critical detail of a book:
  1. Gather together minds that know the various aspects noted in blue above.
  2. Assign a scribe to write down EVERYTHING that is said.
  3. Focus the group's attention and remove distractions. 
  4. Make all members aware that all suggestions lead us to the eventual result. No mocking, no insults, no judgments allowed during the brain dumping, idea flowing session.
  5. Start by asking your author if there are critical elements or words that are non-negotiable. Look for lingo that is specific and important to the genre.
  6. Think of benefits to the reader -- not just features of the book. What will the reader gain from reading your book?
  7. Let the ideas flow freely and openly, one from another.
  8. No individual member is allowed to take credit for the eventual results. The result of the brainstorming session is reached by the confluence of ideas and each idea flowing into the next. Feelings get hurt when one idea leads to another that leads to another and so on until the winning title rolls off someone's tongue. It's a team effort and you all share one brain during brainstorming. If you allow members to take credit, resentment can build and will affect buy-in and future participation in brainstorming.
  9. Write down valid objections that are brought to the table about individual problem words or phrases so the path taken doesn't end in disappointment. Members of the group should present objections politely and without ridicule or inappropriate comments.
  10. Don't schedule brainstorming when you only have an hour to come to a consensus. Stress and brainstorming don't mix.
  11. Finally, remember that the final list of ideas may be long and will be a pool of ideas from which we can choose the most powerful mix of all elements in the actual title selection meeting. It also could end with one obvious title standing out during brainstorming. 
We do plenty of research to make sure a title will play as well as the group thought it would. However, this is the way about 80% of our books are titled and subtitled. It's energizing, necessary, and fun, and every member of our group feels a sense of accomplishment when the outcome is reached.

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