How To Choose a Great Title for Your Genealogy Book

You've written your family's history and now you need a title. In this article, we'll share some tips to help you find a great title for your genealogy book.

To develop a great title for your genealogy book identify your central theme; start with your subtitle; keep your title short, evocative, and memorable; be relevant and specific; be descriptive; and make sure your title is search engine friendly.


Identify your central theme

There's often a great title idea hidden in your book's central theme or narrative. Spend a few minutes thinking about how you might describe your book in a sentence or two to a friend.

Was there a general theme that you noticed from generation to generation? Was there a remarkable story that has come to define your family? Or, how about an ancestor that the book focuses on?

Distill your book's theme down to a sentence and see if that inspires title ideas.

For example, you might distill your book down to the following theme: The Smith clan escapes the plague to become landowners in the New World.

It's a nice, simple description of the story your book tells. Doing a little creative brainstorming might inspire a title like, "From Plagues to Riches".


Start with your subtitle

Sometimes it's easier to start with your subtitle and if you've already distilled your book's theme into a sentence or two, as we suggested above, you're ahead of the game.

A subtitle is an explanatory or alternate title. They tend to be more descriptive of the book's contents or purpose. Subtitles help support the title, by giving more information to the reader.

To write a subtitle all you need to do is take your one-sentence statement from above and clean it up a bit. Once you've done that, you should be able to get some creative ideas for an accompanying title.

The nice thing about this approach is it removes pressure from the title. Your title doesn't have do all the work because you've got a great subtitle that gives your readers a description of what they can expect. Now your title can be used to create interest and intrigue.

Using our earlier example, you might end up with the following title and subtitle:

"From Plagues to Riches: How the Smiths of Yorkshire escaped the plague and came to own half of Richmond, Virginia."


Short, evocative, and memorable

According to award-winning author Neil Gaiman, titles should be short, evocative, and memorable.

Short titles are more impactful. They cut through the noise and are easier to remember. For this reason, try to avoid long, cumbersome titles. Let your subtitle do the lifting if you need to provide more info to your reader.

Also, try to make your titles evocative. Create some intrigue by making your title a little mysterious. Or, employ literary devices, like alliteration, or a play on words.

Our example from above introduces some mystery: what does "plague to riches" mean? And, we have a little play on words, too. The classic cliche is "from rags to riches". We swapped out "rags" for "plagues", a similar-sounding word, and voilà!

If you keep it short and make your title evocative, it will be more memorable, and more successful in getting readers to give it a look.


Be relevant and specific

One of the dangers of trying to be creative is choosing a title that's potentially confusing to your readers. This happens when an author chooses a title that has a special meaning to them, but seems irrelevant to their audience.

Inside jokes, personal experiences, or something related to the writing process may be give you a chuckle, but if used as your title will leave your reader confused.

To avoid confusion, make sure your title is relevant and that it is specific. You want it to reveal, or hint at, what lies within its covers. Remember, a confused reader is a lost reader. You've put too much work into your family's genealogy book to lose your readers

Of course, you can use inside jokes or personal affinities if they clearly tie to your book's contents. Just make sure to keep your readers in mind as you consider options and that your title communicates to your reader an idea what's in it for them if they read your book.


Be descriptive

Creativity is great, but sometimes it's better to go with a title that's more descriptive in nature.

For example, "A mob family's story" is simple and descriptive. And, it's intriguing at the same time, which means people will want to pick it up and read it.

Of course, not every family will have something as sensational as our example. That's okay. Not every title has to be sensational to be interesting.

Go back to your theme statement and think of ways to distill it down into simple and engaging title. They key is that you want it to create interest. If you end up with a four- or five-word description that's got some punch, you've likely found a great title.


Search engine friendly

Last of all, make sure your book's title is search engine friendly.

You may not think this is important for a genealogy book, but making your title searchable can help your readers (read: family members) find your work later.

To be search engine friendly, follow these simple SEO rules:

- Write for humans first
- Your title should be short and to the point
- Make your title catchy
- Make sure your title is original

There is a host of information on how to optimize content for search engines. Most of it is free and can be accessed by a simple Google search. Just look for "search engine optimization" or "SEO". Take some time to read through what you find if you want your title to be SEO friendly.



And that's it!

- identify your central theme
- start with your subtitle
- keep your title short, evocative, and memorable
- be relevant and specific
- be descriptive
- make sure your title is search engine friendly

Follow these steps and you'll have a great title for your genealogy book in no time.