IVP - Andy Unedited - Titling Archives

January 22, 2013

Subtitles, Drama and the Rule of Three

Titles are without a doubt one of the most vital elements for a successful book. But subtitles, while clearly "sub," still matter a lot.

One way (not the only way) to construct an effective subtitle is by using the Rule of Three. Offering a list with three items gives a rising sense of movement, climax and direction. Consider these subtitles:

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:57 AM | Comments (2) are closed

April 19, 2012

A Book by Any Other Name

How important is the title of a book when sending a proposal? Very important and not at all.

Sometimes a title can be so bad the editor can't get past it and rejects the project before ever looking at the proposal seriously. A proposed title can also be so good that it sets expectations sky high. But often the title doesn't help or hinder, so the editor has to engage the proposal to make a determination.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:47 AM

October 20, 2011

Titles That Stick

I always get in trouble when I talk about what makes a great book title. I know people have other opinions, but this is something I happen to be right about.

This time, however, I've got two experts on my side. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath not only lay out what makes ideas memorable, but (even though they may not know it) they also unveil the principles for a great book title.

Great ideas (and titles) are:

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:56 AM | Comments (4) are closed

June 18, 2009


Rip-off titles are nothing new in publishing. One title of a bestseller begets another title. Patricia Cohen gives us a recent catalog of such efforts, in particular the spawn of the Levitt and Dubner bestseller that are hitting the market now.

Continue reading "Titlenomics"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:08 AM

March 10, 2009

The Familiar and the Unfamiliar

Do you have a favorite book title? One that is memorable and interesting, all the while telling you just what the book is about?

Here's another perspective on what makes an ideal nonfiction book title. Previously I wrote that the ideal title employed two elements: content and creativity. You can also think of them as the familiar and the unfamiliar.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:59 AM | Comments (2) are closed

March 2, 2009

The Ideal Book Title

What's the ideal nonfiction book title? In my mind it has two elements.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:24 AM | Comments (1) are closed

February 23, 2009

Bad Title Strategies

If one of the most difficult tasks in publishing is coming up with a good concept for a book, surely a close second is coming up with a good nonfiction book title. It's so hard that even when you are trying to do a good job you often end up making a baboon out of yourself. I'll be saying more about titling in upcoming posts. For now, here are two opposite and equally bad directions to go in titling a book.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:11 AM | Comments (2) are closed

September 26, 2007

They Just Love My Title

"I asked five friends, and they all told me they loved the title I'm thinking of for the book."

"I randomly surveyed a dozen people at the mall and most liked my title best."

"I've been speaking on this topic lately, and when I mention my working title for the book, I get a very positive response."

Over the years we at InterVarsity Press have heard many variations on this theme from authors. They mention their working title to friends, relatives, coworkers or people in the intended audience, and the reaction they get leads them to believe they have a winner. And they might. But why should a publisher be cautious about such a conclusion? Why should an author also be cautious about such a conclusion?

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 12:03 PM | Comments (2) are closed

May 21, 2007

A Book by Any Other Name . . .

Most people know the title of a book matters. It can make or break the success of a book. A wrong title can confuse readers about the content or mislead readers to think the book is not for them.

In publishing, everyone wants a piece of the title--editorial, marketing, sales, design and, oh yes, the author. So what makes a good title?

Continue reading "A Book by Any Other Name . . ."
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:55 AM | Comments (1) are closed

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