How to Increase Book Sales and Make Your Book Irresistible by Adding Details to Your Titles

Nonfiction book titles succeed to the extent their titles promise desired change to a specific target market. “Promise” and “target” titles increase book sales by finding new readers, online and in bookstores. You can further the ability of your book’s title to increase book sales and find new readers by adding details to your titles. As the examples included below show, by adding details, such as numbers, to your book title, you can:

  • Differentiate. Details can help you position your book, setting it (and you) apart from the competition.
  • Enhance credibility. Title details can help increase book sales by enhancing your book’s image and professionalism.
  • Add urgency. Numbers in titles can increase book sales by simplifying complex topics and promising quick results.
  • Perceived value. Numbers can “cement the sale” by enhancing the perceived value of your book.

How title details can differentiate a book from its competition

Consider the example of Rachel Ray’s career-building 30-Minute Meals. This self-published book not only launched a continuing series of highly successful books, but it also launched one of the most successful careers on television’s Food Network. (Which I never watch, of course.)

Born out of desperation, at a time when Domino’s Pizza was guaranteeing deliveries of pizza in 30 minutes, or less, Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals was originally written to help her employer–an upstate New York grocery store–compete against Domino’s. The first printing immediately sold out. It sold out because of the specificity of the “30-minute” promise.

There are lots of cook books on the market, and there would have been little reason for prospective buyers to be interested in a book with a title like “Rachel Ray’s Favorite Recipes.” But, the “30-minutes” makes a specific promise to prospective readers and sets it apart from the competition. When she was unknown outside of upstate New York, which of the following books would have sold more:

  • Favorite Recipes
  • 30-Minute Recipes

In a similar way, Patrick Riley’s The One-Page Proposal: How to Get Your Business Pitch onto One Persuasive Page uses a specific to set the book apart from the hundreds of other proposal writing books on the market. Without the “one-page” promise, it would be just another book, instead of standing apart from the competition.

Using details to add credibility to your book’s title

You can also use specifics to describe the number of steps or ideas your book is based on. The number in the title implies that there is a process, or guidance system, built into your book, rather than a hodgepodge of ideas.

Favorite examples of this approach include Stephen Covey’s The 7-Habits of Highly Effective Individuals and George B. Brant’s, et al, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Program. The “7-Habits” approach simplifies a complex topic by providing a manageable structure to approach it. The “100-Day” approach simplifies a complex program by providing a day-to-day guide to specific tasks.

A final title that succeeds because of credibility based on specificity is Leroy Cook’s 100 Things To Do with Your Private Pilot’s License. Which of the two titles, below, has the greater appeal?

  • Things To Do with Your Private Pilot’s License
  • 100 Things To Do with Your Private Pilot’s License

Likewise, the “5” in the title of Harley Pasternak and Myatt Murphy’s 5 Factor Diet s projects a feeling that there’s a structure, or process, behind the book’s advice.

Using specifics to add urgency

People, today, are in a hurry. The want immediate gratification. They don’t want to wait!

That’s why books with titles like Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenschlager’s Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days are so successful. They promise immediate results. Again, it’s the specific number that adds credibility to the urgency. Which of the following appeals to you?

  • Guerrilla Marketing in a Hurry
  • Guerrilla Marketing in 30-Days

Bill Effros’ How to Sell Your Home in 5 Days is another example of using specifics to stress immediate gratification.

Max Anders takes “specificity for credibility” even further, with the “double specificity” of his 30-Days to Understanding the Christian Life in 15 Minutes a Day.

But, perhaps the best example is 21 Pounds in 21 Days: The Martha’s Vineyard DeTox Program. Here you have the promise of a specific benefit plus the promise of a specific timeframe.

Using specifics to add value

Finally, today’s readers want value. They want to know they’re getting their money’s worth. Specifics can enhance the promise of value just by emphasizing the number of options your book offers.

Consider John Kremer’s classic 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. You can’t help but think, “with 1001 ideas in the book, there’s got to be something there that will work for me!”

Conclusion

Numbers added to book titles can provide your book with a compelling sales advantage over competing books. Numbers and details provide specific proof of the title’s promise. Numbers in book titles can set a book apart from the competition, they can organize and simplify complex topics, they can add urgency to your title’s promise, and they can reinforce your book’s value.

Spend some time analyzing the titles of existing books in your field. How effectively do they use specificity to add impact to their title’s selling power? How often are numbers used to reinforce the title’s promise? How are the numbers used?

More important, take a fresh look at your book’s proposed title. How effectively does your book’s title use details and specifics for differentiation, credibility, urgency, or value?