The importance of a subtitle

talk to the handAs you probably know, my favorite genre is memoir. I’ve noticed that many titles these days come with subtitles:

  • I Thought I Wouldn’t Tell It: A Memoir of Hard Life and Hope
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
  • Leave me alone: Memoirs of an Exmormon
  • Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales: A Story of Addiction

Some of these subtitles are used to simply identify the book as a memoir in the hopes that if you like genre, the added word will eliminate any confusion on the matter and draw you in to the story.

Other subtitles try to give you an idea of the author’s voice like:

  • My Foot is Too Big For the Glass Slipper – A Guide to the Less than Perfect Life.

When it’s used like this, it’s an opportunity for the author to inject a personal comment  in an effort to let you know up front what tone is being used.

And still other subtitles are added as a last chance to get keywords into the title in the event that someone wants to search, oh I don’t know, for LOVE stories:

  • What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love

If done well, a subtitle can be incredibly effective. It can give you an extra opportunity to lure your potential reader into your book and it sets the tone.

Got nothing against that, in fact, I’ve even written several subtitles titles for my works.

But still, there’s a tiny part of me that used to think of the perfect title to a project *before* I even thought of the story – you know what I’m talking about, it’s when you hear a phrase and you think *that* would be a great book title and then you start creating a story in order to justify the title.

I understand the marking importance of subtitles, trust me, I do.

But I also hope that the art of crafting the perfect title for your work doesn’t get lost in the marketing process.

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com)

20 thoughts on “The importance of a subtitle

  1. I agree with what you’re saying to a certain extent. I’m thinking that wouldn’t the absolute perfect title not only exemplify your work creatively, but also be a great marketing tool? Kind of the best of both aspects. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

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  8. I though subtitles doesn’t matter. Seen them in most of the sites of the articles. I didn’t know they are sub titles, but just custom fields. Now, I just realised that my theme has subtitle field, and is amazing. The post looks so good, and hope it helps in ranking as well. Glad to find your article, thomas.

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