Barbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Pick the perfect book title – please!
Updated: Dec 6, 2022
This week I received an email with the subject line “book title” from the manager of acquisitions and development for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics publications department.
Finally, after nearly two years of conceiving, writing, reviewing, and editing our nutrition communication text, it’s time to settle on a title. The design team is ready to begin work on the cover and layout of the text. It’s time to give the book a name. We’ve been using the working title, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Guide to Nutrition Communication, but that was not planned for the permanent title.
The Academy staff encouraged and suggested a “straightforward” title, in line with their other titles. This makes sense. A textbook is not a novel. As Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, suggests – a book title should do one of four things: (1)
Make a promise
Identify a need
Explain the content
Clearly, a textbook title should explain the content. No surprises. No hidden meanings. At the same time, couldn’t we pick a title that attracts attention and doesn’t scream “BORING” to the reader? Research by Thomas Nelson Publishers identified seven book elements consumers consider in making a purchasing decision. Title is at the top. A good title is critical – but is it even possible to find the “perfect” title?
Characteristics of a good book title go beyond the list above. It should be easy to say and remember, making it easy to find online or in a bookstore. Ideally, it should be unique. Fortunately, there aren’t a plethora of other textbooks about nutrition communication, which is a primary reason the Academy determined the need to create one. Any title will be unique.
In addition to a title, nonfiction books have subtitles. The purpose of the subtitle is to describe the book’s genre and function. If the main title doesn’t clearly tell the essence of the book, the subtitle must. Subtitles provide more specificity and can tell not just what the book is about but who the book is for. The Academy recommends a subtitle in line with others they use for similar texts. The title and subtitle must work well together.
The book’s title is likely to be one of the following. Which one resonates with you?
Nutrition Communication A Handbook for Professionals
Communicating Nutrition A Handbook for Professionals
Communicating Nutrition Science A Handbook for Professionals
The Art and Science of Nutrition Communication A Handbook for Professionals
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Guide to Nutrition Communication A Handbook for Professionals
Other: What would you recommend for a title and subtitle?
An effective title has the same characteristics as effective communication – clear, concise, and compelling. May we choose well! Put your preference in the comments - please!
“Books are the training weights of the mind.” ~ Epictetus
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