Which Title is Best?

July 14th, 2006 by Bob Bly

What’s better for a book — a title that is catchy and clever, or one that is straightfoward and direct?

A publisher is thinking of putting out a book of solar energy science projects for young readers.

They are considering two titles:

A. Solar Science Projects.
B. Fun with the Sun.

Which do you prefer — and why?

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22 responses about “Which Title is Best?”

  1. Robert Rosenthal said:

    Check out “The New York Times” non-fiction bestseller list and you see titles like “Freakonomics,” “Blink,” and “The One Percent Doctrine.” You know where I stand.

  2. Lisa Taylor Huff said:

    Actually I don’t care for either of them. “A” is too boring and “B” doesn’t really excite me either: too cutesy. However, if it’s not a classroom textbook then “B” because “A” makes it sound like a textbook and what kid would want to read THAT unless he/she is forced to do so by a science teacher?

  3. Bob Bly said:

    LTH: It is NOT a textbook. It is a book of experiments for children ages 10-14.

  4. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Easy! “Fun with the Sun.” Kids love rhymes. And they’re curious – how can I have fun with the sun, they might wonder.

    The other one sounds r-e-a-l-l-y snoozy!

  5. Joel Heffner said:

    This one is a no brainer. Solar Science Projects will be understood by kids looking to do science projects. It will come up quickly on Amazon and Barnes and Noble by kids who type in Science Projects as their keywords. They will not go to the other title to find projects nor will it probably come up on top if a kid does a search.

    Joel

  6. Chris Yeh said:

    I’m with Joel–”Fun with the Sun” is positively unsearchable. A quick Google search turns up 184,000,000 pages, with most focused on vacations and playtime.

    In contrast, “Solar Science Projects” brings up exactly the content readers would be looking for.

  7. Brian Thornton said:

    The 10 to 13 year old that would even be comparing the book would go for fun in the sun.

    Solar Science Projects is the way to go for the following:
    - They accomplish something after reading. Fun in the Sun is just cheezy.
    - Distribution through scientific sources and libraries is more likely so the more purchased, the more read.

  8. Brian Thornton said:

    The 10 to 13 year old that would even be comparing the book would NOT go for fun in the sun.

    Solar Science Projects is the way to go for the following:
    - They accomplish something after reading. Fun in the Sun is just cheezy.
    - Distribution through scientific sources and libraries is more likely so the more purchased, the more read.

  9. SpongeBob Fan said:

    IMHO, “Fun With The Sun” would be a title that would easier to build a publicity campaign on. Parents are always looking for ways to have educational f-u-n with their kids.

    BUT — everything depends on who the book is being pitched at – the contents and even the look of the book itself matter alot. And there are lots of science-oriented kids out there.

    Either one could work.

  10. Joel Heffner said:

    With all due respect, I think that some of you guys are getting carried away. This book is NOT going to be “pitched” to anyone. Like most other books it will be put out there with little or no fanfare. The title is the only thing that will attract the attention of the group to which it is aimed…kids.

    >>”The 10 to 13 year old that would even be comparing the book would go for fun in the sun.”>

    If you think that kids are folks who read Bob Bly’s, Tom Peters’ or Seth Godin’s blogs to find out about titles like Freakonomics…I doubt it very much.

    Let’s get real…this book has a very targeted audience who is in a hurry to find something that they need to finish (frequently) within a few days.

    Joel

  11. Rich Westerfield said:

    I’d go with “Fun With the Sun”, but I’d feel a lot better about it if the cover had a burst with the copy, “Fry crickets with a Coke bottle. See page 22!”

    THAT would get the kids really interested.

  12. Chris Gregory said:

    Isn’t the answer that each title is going to appeal to a different audience — and you won’t know which is likely to outpull the other without testing… or a lot of previous experience in that market?

    Why not combine the two as follows:

    “Fun with the Sun: Solar Science Projects for 7-10 year olds.” (Sorry, I’m a former academic and we love these sorts of titles…)

    Put FWTS on the front cover and spine in large type, and the rest in smaller type. That’ll give the book the best chance of picking up both ends of the market — and feature high on the search engines that Joel’s concerned about.

  13. Dianna Huff said:

    Am I the only person who takes her son to Borders and drops a $40-60 bucks each time? :-) I have yet to order a book for him via Amazon. He picks out his own books, hence a book sitting on the shelf titled “Fun with the Sun” would get his attention more than “Solar Science Projects” — which sounds dreadfully dull.

    But I agree, if most of the books are sold online, I would chose “Solar Science Projects.”

  14. Mike Stelzner said:

    How about a combination: Solar Science Projects: How to Have Fun with the Sun

    I did a big test on my book and it turned out the boring title is the one my audience preferred, so I went with and added a more creative subtitle.

    Mike

  15. jake challenor said:

    Fun in the sun!!!!!

    Great article. I edit a web based small business television channel and magazine in Australia – ‘I’m Boss TV’.

    There are some great articles and TV segments on marketing. Feel free to take a look and send through any feedback.

    http://www.ImBoss.tv.

    And feel free to submit any articles for consideration across any of the categories. We’re always looking for content and contributors from around the globe.

    - Jake Challenor

  16. Kelly Robbins said:

    I have 3 kids and can tell you from experience the fun with the sun title would get picked over solar science projects with my younger girls. Younger than 10-13. However, if they were dreading doing a solar science project — which happens to my 12 year old — I would search online and find solar science projects and buy it for her.

    If I was the publisher I would choose solar science projects. My 12 year olds would rather go swimming to have fun in the sun that do science. :)

  17. arun chakkravarthy said:

    I would rather go for ‘Fun with the Sun’, ‘coz i don’t want to bore young readers
    by seeing the title ‘solar science projects’ which sounds like a typical academic textbook and also by going their way it is easy to catch them.

  18. Sean Woodruff said:

    Why choose?

    With Print on Demand publishing you can test any title you’d like. Unless you’re purchasing it, anything we say here doesn’t mean anything. If a publisher is demanding a title it shows how behind the times they really are.

    Take a look at this post on my site titled “Judging a Book by Its Cover”

    http://www.woodruffdirect.com

  19. alex bly said:

    solar science projects is the correct answer because it shows what the science projects are specificly about. fun with the sun could mean to many things and is not nearly specific enough.

  20. Mark E. Bender said:

    Neither title is good – Solar Science Projects is boring – sounds like a text book or scientific literature – does not come close to grabbing the interest of a normal child; Fun in the Sun is vague – does this mean summer vacation stories?.

    How about combining them into something like Solar Sun Fun Science Projects – a child knows its about science projects but also about fun.

  21. Bob Bly said:

    Sean: your answer is not realistic. POD is too expensive per copy for trade books. Any mainstream publisher MUST select a title before printing 10,000 books.

  22. Rob Swanson said:

    Both are poor.

    Sunburn! Solar Projects for Kid Scientists

    Eh, that’s not much better, but a little jazz is necessary.

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