February 5, 2023

a course in miracles. As an author, creating a memorable title should be a high priority. Numbers in book titles work with items that already quantify. For example a book titled ‘Get 6-Pack Abs in 6 Minutes a Day’ makes sense. I like using numbers in a book title when it’s relevant and useful in describing what the book is about. A recent example that really works is ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss and his ‘4 Hour Body’. That number stops you in your tracks because it is shocking. How can you work just 4 hours a week? How can you have a good body in just 4 hours? Ferriss has capitalized on his branding of ‘4-Hour’ and just published ‘The 4 Hour Chef.’ He owns that number now. He’s branded his name with ‘4-Hour’ and will be able to incorporate it in his future work.

On LinkedIn, the question received many insightful responses. One I particularly liked was from James Cosenza, a software engineer, “I think the numbered approach is especially useful for self-help and how-to books. People want to know that they can change their lives or learn a new skill in 5, 10 or 15 ‘easy’ steps. I don’t know about saturation, but I think conflicting titles on the same subject might be off-putting. For example, do you buy ‘Install a New Patio in 10 Easy Steps’ vs. ‘A New Patio in Seven Simple Steps’?

Ethan de Jonge Kalmar, founder of Make Your English Work, says, “I think that it depends on your content and audience. Numbered lists certainly work well for blog posts and on social media sites, but given the speed of information now, and the tendency to want to have everything in concise, easy to digest form, I think that many readers of books (by which I mean works of at least 100 pages or so) are looking for more in-depth insight, and numbered list titles do not exactly communicate that the book provides that.”

“For a short promotional e-book, or perhaps the self-help/entrepreneur market it might work well. Also, I think that if you are providing information that is comprehensive because it covers many different things, it might work well, as in James Cosenza’s example of 1000 Places to See before You Die.”

Tim Lemire responded from an author’s perspective, “I never worried about coming up with a good title; I knew the publisher was going to assign their own title to the book anyway.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *