How to title stuff

(Books, blog posts, breakfast cereals, whatever).

I was talking to someone yesterday about naming books, and I realized that there are three useful schools of thought here.

  1. You can pick a completely descriptive, generic, boring name that precisely describes what’s inside. Like "Shredded Wheat" or "12 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog" or "Installing Linux on the 8088 Platform in 24 Hours". The advantage of this approach is that Google likes it, and so do people who are quite goal directed. If you’ve got a Linux installation problem and you find that book at your local B&N, not only are you going to buy it immediately, you’re going to do it with a smile on your face.
  2. You can pick a more clever name that’s designed to entice the reader to read the subtitle, or the first few lines of your post or the back of the cereal box. You can imbue the name with some attitude, like BlogWild, or you can pick a name that just begs to be researched, like Join the Conversation.
  3. The third approach is to pick a name that gets talked about. To create a phrase that you hope will enter the vocabulary. Yes, that’s my strategy. My goal is to have people call something a Purple Cow or eviscerate the boss for suggesting yet another Meatball Sundae. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, you sell ten books, not one. (From my point of view, though, I’m happy to sell zero if the phrase catches on… the book is just an excuse for making change).

And now, to really gild the lily, the guys at 8CR have figured out a way to get you a free action figure (yes, there really is an action figure, and yes, it really is a joke) when you buy ten copies of the new book at a discount price, one for everyone who can’t figure out what you’re talking about. And yes, they ship worldwide. Imagine everyone’s delight when you give them one for Valentine’s Day.

While we’re on the topic, Jackie has a fairly disgusting video.That’s not why the book made the WSJ bestseller list, but it can’t hurt.

John wrote a crisp review. So did Marc. I’d say "thanks for reading," but what I really want to say is, "thanks for talking about it."