4070018828_d3c43fc266Did you ever notice that some books, both fiction and non-fiction, use subtitles? As a writer, it can sometimes be hard to tell if subtitles are really useful, or if they’re extraneous and useless for marketing your book. Though subtitles aren’t nearly as powerful as a good book description or cover, they can still help improve your sales if you use them correctly. Not only that, but the good news is that most readers are very accepting of subtitles because they help to differentiate books. Here are a few ways to use them, and why they can help improve your sales.

Differentiate Books

Let’s say that you write a series of books. For example, you write mystery books and the main character is “Detective Graham.” Instead of titling the books in a boring fashion like, “Detective Graham 2” and “Detective Graham 3,” you decide to use better titles, like “The Man Who Stole the Sky” and “The Sleeping Culprit.” How does a new reader know which book is which in the series? Subtitles can help.

For example, just changing the title to: “The Man Who Stole the Sky: The Second Detective Graham Story” is enough to tell people that this is the sequel. See how easy that is? This allows you to create great titles, but it also ensures that you keep new readers aware of which book comes next in the series.

Clarify Genre or Message

Sometimes your title isn’t enough to tell people what genre or message you’re getting across. While you should be able to do this in the description, many readers will just glance at the title and cover before going to another book, so you need to capture their attention as soon as possible. A good subtitle can help them quickly understand what your book is about.

For example, let’s look at a fiction and non-fiction title that can be improved and clarified with a subtitle. Our fiction book is called “Heartblood.” What type of book is it? It can be a romance book due to the ‘heart’ portion, or it could be a mystery book since the word ‘blood’ is there. If we change it to “Heartblood: An Epic Fantasy,” then it lets potential readers know right then and there that it’s a fantasy book.

How about a non-fiction book? Let’s say that your book is called, “Credit Fixers.” It’s obviously about fixing one’s credit score, but the title itself is a little broad and it isn’t focused enough to pull in the right readers. What if we change it to, “Credit Fixers: 10 Ways Seniors can Improve Their Credit Score” or “Credit Fixers: How College Students get Good Credit.” This quickly differentiates the book and focuses it towards a certain audience, which ensures that the right people find it.

Online and Offline

Subtitles are incredibly useful online. People tend to look at books less online because it’s easier to go from one book to the next on Kindle, and readers tend to quickly check the title when deciding to buy or pass on a book. So, if you can add a subtitle to your online book, then it’s always a good idea. This will also help people find your book when they’re searching for keywords.

While this tactic can be useful with offline books, it isn’t quite as powerful because the optimization part is gone. However, it can still help sell the book because it will ensure that potential readers know exactly what they are getting into before picking up your book.

Adding Subtitles

Is your book already on the Kindle network? You can still add subtitles with ease. Just go to the KDP website, locate your book in the admin page and change the title. It only takes a few seconds. If you are expecting many sales, then you should also change the cover so that it has the subtitle on there.

However, there’s a word of warning when it comes to adding subtitles. As with other SEO and optimizing scams, some people have tried to game the Kindle system by using subtitles that did little more than target a keyword. While there’s nothing wrong with making an optimized subtitle, it should add value to the book. If it doesn’t, then Amazon might deny the subtitle, or it might even penalize the book.


If you’re like most writers, then you probably aren’t using subtitles. While they usually won’t make your book a best seller, they will typically give your book a boost because readers will find it much easier to discover and understand your book, and this is worth its weight in gold. Not only that, but a subtitle can make your title seem even stronger.


Filed under: kindle publishing

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