How to Create Titles to Hook Your Readers

by | Feb 10, 2016

Are you sometimes stuck when it comes to adding a title to a blog or article? Have you ever used a mundane title for a blog, article, or gulp … your book?

Sure, keywords and phrases are ideal in every lead title. But they aren’t always enough. Your titles need “juice” –the secret sauce to hook the reader to think or say, “What the heck!” or “OMG, I need this.” or “Tell me more.”

Would you like to create one with some snap, crackle and pop? I’m always on the lookout for tools that will stir up my creative juices. During my annual three-day summer event, Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, one of the days is spent on gizmos and gadgets—identifying, demonstrating and then implementing a variety of tips and tricks for busy authors.

My Favorite Tools for Creating Titles

Here are three of my favorite tools that always generate responses from “Cool!” to “This is awesome!” for boosting the power of headlines and titles.

  1. – Title Generator

    Get ready to have your eyes opened. Inserting your keywords or topic into the submission box will increase your open up rate for a variety of usages, including social media posts.

    TweakYourBiz screen shot 1

    For “book publishing”, Tweak Your Biz came up with:

    • Lists
    • Questions
    • Best
    • How to
    • even Snarky

    Over a dozen categories were displayed in seconds. Most likely, many of the suggestions will be tossed … but Book Publishing on a Budget: 5 Tips from the Great Depression might create some pull.

    Great title examples

  2. – Idea Generator

    Get ready to have a little fun with Portent—it creates a variety of twists and turns, even goofy … but hey, sometimes goofy may be the perfect hook. Portent’s process is simple—don’t use capitals unless it’s a proper name; use the singular version of your keyword; and keep revising to create a grammatically correct headline that is often laugh-out-loud.

    Portent screen shot 1

    My keyword phrases often have “book” or “publishing” in them. When I inserted “book publishing”, one of the options was Why Book Publishing Is More Tempting than a Cinnabon—sounds delicious. I don’t know about you, but comparing book publishing to munching on a Cinnabon wouldn’t normally be something that I would think about for a title hook—but millions enjoy Cinnabons weekly and the odds are many of them are authors or authors in the making. My market.

    Portent screen shot 2

  3. – Headline Analyzer

    Created by the Advanced Marketing Institute, the Headline Analyzer is an excellent way to “goose” up your emotional pull with the reader.

    Step 1 – Enter your “working title”.
    Step 2 – Click on a category.
    Step 3 – Submit for analysis.

    As you tweak your words, you will note the percentage of emotional marketing value change—or in some cases, disappear.

    AMInstitute screen shot 1

    Ideally, you would like to pull a score of 40% or higher. Most copywriters and headline pros will do a happy dance when they hit that magic percentage.

    For a recent blog I did, the title The Secret to Author SMARTs Is Being DUMB garnered a 57.14%. That surfaced after I played around with just a few words. The theme of the blog was that being dumb was OK … learning new things delivers the smart tag; that being ignorant on a topic isn’t a crime.

    Note: punctuation will be removed by its software when the results of the analysis are revealed.

    AMInstitute screen shot 2

    The higher your score using the Headline Analyzer, the probability of an open rate accelerates. I would suggest you copy your headline so you can simply paste it in again and again as your tweak, adding/deleting/changing words until you get a headline that works for you.

    For this blog, I submitted my ideas for the title to AMInstitue’s Headline Analyzer. Starting with Create Titles with Snap, Crackle and Pop to Hook Your Reader, the score popped up at 30. Adding “how to”: How to Create Titles with Snap, Crackle and Pop to Hook Your Reader, the score increased to 38.17. Refining just a bit to How to Create Titles to Hook Your Readers, it leaped to 50.

    I could have continued to play with words, but there was this thing called “deadline” … 50 was good enough.

What say you … do your headlines pull in readers? Do they have the right combo of emotional juice that will entice your open rate?


tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Maria

    Awesome ! I’m definitely going to try these tools. Thank you so much!

  2. Mike C Smith

    Wow was my impression of – Title Generator this tool is far better then other generators I’ve seen, I like the breakdown of categories, it opened up many other possibilities. thank very much for sending it to me.

    • Judith Briles

      Tweak Your Biz has been fun to play with for blogs and articles. Some forget that the Headline is designed to get the attention of the reader … the lead sentence/paragraph is where the content expands. Judith

  3. Michael W. Perry

    Thanks for the links. Next time I see an article whose title is grossly inaccurate, I’ll know not to blame someone stupid at the publication. It could be one of these headline generators instead.

    Forget these machine-made titles. Your book’s title is way too important for that. Use your brains. As you write, have your mind constantly coming up with ideas for both the title (short and memorable) and subtitle (accurate and descriptive). Write them down so you don’t forget them. Also, ask friends for ideas and run yours past them.

    If you’re a hack journalist turning out half-a-dozen articles a day, a headline generator may be OK. But that book you’ve spent months are even years working on deserves better.

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride

    Note to Webmaster. Please turn of that stupid timer for the ‘are you human’ test. It’s set way too short.

    • Judith Briles

      I agree with you Michael–the book title is critical. I’m a SuperReader, devouring books in my chosen genre. If the title doesn’t bring me in from the get go–it’s a pass. Too many books today have titles that don’t fit; don’t explain what is between the covers, not even a hint. Sometimes authors are just too close–or they get fixated on an idea and won’t let it go, even if it doesn’t have a “pull” … a little help to get them started doesn’t hurt.

      And I agree, have pen/paper–notes on phone–whatever to jot down ideas as they flow. And then I check them out. I’ve found the AMInstitute good to gage the emotional/spiritual pull when I start to settle in on a title.

      In 4th grade, Mrs. Russell drilled into us kids: Avoid using “never” and “always”. Judith

  4. Dorothy

    Wonderful list of resources and food for thought–thanks!

    Incidentally, I have stopped clicking on ANY titles of anything that go for the clickbait approach. “But when she turned around, my jaw DROPPED!” “Number 17 will astonish you!” “What he said next will have you in tears!”

    If you aren’t confident that what you’re saying is of enough value that I’d read it without being tricked into it, then I have no interest.

    • Judith Briles

      I’m with you Dorothy… those come ons can be quite clever, don’t you think? I think titles she saw what it is; what the promise is, my two bits. Judith

  5. Johannes Rexx

    In general, I avoid web-based title generators, grammar checkers, spelling checkers, even book-writing sites. Why? Because I am concerned about information leakage. If a service is free then YOU are the product.

    Therefore, in my view, one must read their privacy policy, especially at free online sites, before using them yourself or recommending them to others.

    • Judith Briles

      Information leakage is always a concern? Are you over-reacting? Portent and TweakYourBiz are usually inputted with common words — book publishing … what is created is erased with a click. Now, there may be some memory filter for “5 ways to take the gnats out of book publishing” –but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. In searching the “privacy” notices of these sites, I couldn’t find anything that alarmed be that what ever it’s robots spit back was going to be pirated away, resold, reused. Judith

  6. Erin Austin

    Portent’s is brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

    • Judith Briles

      I did a “happy dance” when I discovered Portent. When I introduce it at my event each June, authors become giddy as the play with it. How fun is that? Judith

  7. Candace Johnson

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Judith. I edit blog posts for a number of authors, and many of them struggle to write titles that will hook their readers. I’m thrilled to have this to share with them.

    • Judith Briles

      Glad to add to your “tool kit” for authors Candace. Judith



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