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The 3 Ingredients in Our Best Selling eBook Titles

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of February 2014 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Over the last few days in Facebook groups I participate in, I’ve seen a number of people ask for advice on coming up with titles for new eBooks, courses and books.

Below is a combination of a few pieces of advice I gave in response to the topic:

Coming up with titles for our eBooks on Digital Photography School is always something that takes our team considerable time and debate.

There’s no right way to to create a title and many factors come into play but there are generally three main ingredients that I try to include in titles of eBooks:

1. Clearly Communicate What the Book is About

This is pretty obvious, but it can be tempting at times to come up with a title that is a little more cryptic. I’ve found that the clearer you are about the topic, the better (this also helps with after-sale customer service – you’ll get a lot less complaints if people know exactly what they’re buying).

2. Include a Tangible Benefit

I didn’t always do this but have noticed that our best selling eBooks tend to have one. A good example of this is the ProBlogger eBook – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.

Do this, and you’ll get this – show the people who are pondering whether they will buy your product what they’ll get as a result of doing so. What’s in it for them?

Sometimes putting the benefit in the title is tricky, particularly if you’re looking to create a short title. In this case, we would usually create a sub-title that we prominently display.

For example, our landscape Photography eBook is ‘Living Landscapes: A Guide to Stunning Landscape Photography‘. The benefit or result is (stunning landscape photography).

So as you’re creating your product, make a list of the needs/problems/challenges that your readers face that your product solves. You may come up with multiple benefits but choose the biggest one (one that readers have at the top of their minds and that the product solves), and use that in the title.

Keep the other benefits that you’ve brainstormed handy because they will be very useful when you’re writing your sales material for the eBook.

3. If Possible Say Something Aspirational that Touches Emotion

This is not something we always do, but particularly for our Photography eBooks, we know that as we’re talking about photography (which is an aspirational topic), that when we use words that evoke some kind of emotion that we generally get a better response from readers.

Note: there’s a fine line here between manipulation and hype, and doing this well.

The example of our ‘Living Landscapes’ eBook mentioned above is a good one. ‘Living Landscapes’ communicates something about what we’re trying to do with the eBook – i.e. help readers to bring the landscapes that they photography to life.

Also in the sub-title we use ‘Stunning Landscape Photography’ rather than just ‘Landscape Photography’. The addition of an adjective not only communicates our objective with the eBook to readers, but also gets them dreaming a little about the things that our eBook will help them to unlock.

You’ll also see if you dig into the sales copy on dPS eBooks, that many of our sales pages also use this more aspirational language in how we sell our products.

Another example of this is Transcending Travel: A Guide to Captivating Travel Photography which at the time we published it was our fastest selling eBook.

You can see in the title alone the same kind of formula. You can tell what it is about (Travel Photography), there’s a clear tangible benefit and words like ‘Transcending’ and ‘Captivating’ are aspirational.

Look at the sales page and again you can see that the copy starts by aiming to touch the ‘heart’ – getting readers to think about the feeling that we all know of getting home from a trip to find that the images we’ve taken don’t capture the true spirit of our time away.

Two Last Tips on Creating Great Titles for Products:

While the above three ingredients are things that we try to get into our eBook titles, it is important to re-emphasise that there is no right way to do this.

Our approach has worked for us with our readership, but I know others take different approaches (and I’d love to hear yours below).

The two last tips I’d give also come out of our experience:

1. Test and Watch How Your Readers Respond

Not all of our titles have worked, and there have been times when we’ve used titles that I had doubts about that worked surprisingly well!

The key is to experiment and see how your readers respond. There are a variety of ways of doing this including:

  • watching how readers respond to titles of blog posts – over time you’ll see some posts get read more than others and that certain words/topics/title formulas seem to resonate more than others
  • test how people respond to social media updates – tweet a link to a blog post you’ve written with two alternative titles for the link and see which works best
  • watching open rates of emails that you send your email subscribers – in the lead up to a product launch send an email to your list pointing them to a blog post on the topic and test different subject lines
  • As your readers which title they’d be most interested in reading – we’ve done this a couple of times on Facebook with readers, showing them two covers of eBooks and asking which they like more

2. Involve Others in the Process

I learned with my very first photography eBook how powerful it was to involve others in the coming up with titles and sales copy.

I was close to launching my first eBook with the simple title ‘Portrait Photography’ when I shot Brian Clark from CopyBlogger an email asking his advice. He came back with the title ‘The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography’.

The title was much stronger and the eBook sold very well.

While not everyone might have access to email one of the best blogging copywriters around (Brian is brilliant) even tossing a title around with friends, family, colleagues and other bloggers will help you to hone your title.

These days we spend days tossing around title ideas as a team before deciding upon one and I think doing so has helped a lot. You’ll also find that as you talk it through the marketing of the product will also become easier as you’ll get more clarity about the benefits of your product and how it will help readers.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Darren,

    I see the title of a book (or ebook) to be as interesting as possible.

    Make it entertaining to the point that doesn’t bypass the overall theme or idea of the book.

    These days, headlines are key to getting the most out of the Internet and other areas.

    I do agree with the emotion aspect of what you touched in this post.

    If your title does incite some sort of emotion on the viewer, you might have them hooked onto your book.

    Words alone may target the emotions on the reader and you clearly exemplified that in this post.


    – Sam

  2. Hey Darren,

    congratulations with the amazing launch.

  3. Hello Darren, congratulations for the amazing launch well i really liked your article it’s full of learning and i enjoy reading it well all i can say is really, great work.

  4. I definitely agree with you on using a title that’s more to the point than one that’s cleverly esoteric. It’s common for great literary works to have cryptic titles because that only further proves your “artistic” creativity with your own title.

    But for instructive books, it’s wisest to stick to what it’s really about. Adding an adjective like “stunning” is also a great idea. Thanks for tip!

  5. In addition to the tips above, use words that incite emotion from the readers like exciting, incredible, artistic, stunning, etc. For instance, 10 Exciting Ways.., Photography Techniques for Incredible Results or something like that. Another is to make a promise that you can fulfill. One title example would be “Lose 20 Pounds in One Month with Fast Metabolism Diet.”

  6. As someone often on the other end of those debates you speak of, two additional things (if it’s not hard enough yet) worth thinking through are:

    1. Memorable. It’s got to be something that people remember easily. It won’t be the full title, but if people can say I loved the “living landscapes” book, over I loved that “landscape book that had the rock on the cover, you know the one I’m talking about…”

    2. Unique: Please do check that there isn’t a similar product out there carrying the same name. I’ve made that mistake and it’s not pretty.

  7. Hi Darren! Yet again another great post that is so timely for us! We’re ever so grateful for the advice you gave us over on Aussie Bloggers and now this post will be something else we can implement into our payment page updates as well as future ebooks! Thanks again Darren :)

  8. Hello Darren, congratulations for the amazing launch well i really liked your article it’s full of learning and i enjoy reading it well all i can say is really, great work.

  9. Darren,

    Observing reactions to successful blog post titles makes sense. Your readers are likely eBook buyers if you use the same successful formula. Note patterns, apply to your eBook.


  10. Hi Darren,

    Great post. Point you noted are great and useful. Without playing with emotions you can’t market your product.
    Thank you for this great Post.

  11. A very nice post.

    Definitely, the title of a post, eBook affect for its success.

  12. Hello Darren,

    It’s great you shared the unique tips that have worked for you over time. With experience however, I have come to discover that nothing beats working on the emotions of your would be readers.

    You see, most decisions are decided with the heart and not the head…using that knowledge productively is often a great idea.


  13. Well, I must say that the tips are handy. At least, one should be able to follow the tips and create the perfect titles for ebooks, courses, and books. Involving others in process would be helpful!

    I have commented same in kingged.com – the content syndication and social networking website for Internet marketers where this post was shared.

    Sunday – contributor to kingged.com


  14. yes, it is common for great literary works to have cryptic titles because that only further proves your “artistic” creativity with your own title. Congratulations for the amazing launch well i really liked your article it’s full of learning and i enjoy reading it well all i can say is really, great work.

  15. congratulations.

  16. Great post Darren!!!

    I agree with all your points .Of course there’s a lot more to selling than just naming your eBook, but the title plays a big role in how your potential customers view it.
    Keep it up!!!

  17. The title of a book can make a big difference in its sales. Clearly defining what the book is all about either from the title or introduction can determine if someone will buy them or not.

    But people are buying books for what they can gain from it, so including the benefits just below the title can also matter a lot. Connect with your prospective readers, find a common ground to connect and appeal to their emotions and your book will become a best seller in no time.

    I found this article on Kingged.com and also left a comment on it.

  18. You’re right and I totally agree with you that it’s passion that sets great blog apart from the rest. I am so passionate about my blog that I cannot sell it for money. It’s like sharing my views and opinions through my blog and pouring my heart into it.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post and giving your readers the chance to let their hearts out about their passion for their blog.

  19. Nice! This is a must read share.

    These 3 ingredients you have here can lead writers to create an ebook title that sells.

    I must add in all your thought that the title itself does not sell books. Hence, include your audience in your title. And that easily means that always make your title clear and make it easy for your audience to recognize they need your eBook.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  20. Nice Article. the best title you have chosen.

  21. Thank you Darren, Your consistent content is fuel to my blogging efforts. Thank you Darren.

  22. Thanks for the tips Darren. The ebook is about to be named!

  23. Congratulations for the amazing launch well i really liked your article it’s full of learning and i enjoy reading it well all i can say is really, great work.

  24. Thanks so much for the tips. I am just starting out and will be putting together an ebook in the next few months.

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