Book TitlesGuest post by Roger C. Parker

This has long been one of my favorite topics. Often, authors over-complicate and “over-create” their titles. Yet, often, the most effective titles are the simplest! Here’s why, with some examples.



Why are simple nonfiction titles often the leading books in their category?

To start with, “What’s a simple book title?”

There are several ways you can define “simple:”

  • Simple = short. Simple titles are not only short, but they are usually built around short words. Short titles are often accompanied by longer subtitles that provide additional information.
  • Simple = easy to understand. Successful business book titles are easily understood; there’s no ambiguity. At a glance, the title instantly communicates what the book is about and the benefits it offers readers.
  • Simple = everyday language. The best titles are conversational, built around “obvious” words that prospective buyers use in everyday conversation.
  • Simple = memorable. Long, complex titles are difficult to remember; simple titles, on the other hand, are easier to say (when referring books to co-workers) and easier to remember.

Simple titles build brands

Best of all, simple titles not only tend to be Amazon Top 100 books in their category, they tend to be evergreen–they tend to stay in print and remain popular for years, often decades. Simple titles often go on to create brands for their authors, i.e., Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing series.

10 examples of simple titles that sell

Here are several examples of simple business book titles that either are, or have been bestselling business category leaders, or have stood the test of time and created valuable brands for their authors:

  1. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, by Carmine Gallo.
  2. Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales, by Bob Burg.
  3. Selling to Big Companies, by Jill Konrath.
  4. Writing that Works: How to Communicate Effectively in Business, by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson, (over 100,000 copies sold).
  5. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Inspire Audiences, by Nancy Duarte.
  6. Influence: The Power of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini.
  7. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, by Ann Handley, C.C. Chapman, and David Meerman Scott.
  8. The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition, by David Meerman Scott.
  9. How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.
  10. Customers For Life: How To Turn That One-Time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer, by Carl Sewall and Paul B. Brown. (Old enough to vote, yet still a top 20 seller in the customer service category.)

Common themes

As you’ll see when you analyze the above listings on, the above books have several things in common; simple titles, multiple editions, long shelf-life, lots of reader reviews, and–most important–continuing sales in their categories. And, it’s within categories that business book authors build their brands.


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