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What Is a Subtitle of a Book and How to Write One


Understanding how to create an effective subtitle for a book isn’t common knowledge. Often, there’s a misconception that a brief one-sentence summary suffices to attract readers. However, the reality is different—readers require a compelling reason to purchase, and that’s precisely the purpose of your book subtitle.

One of the most significant hurdles authors encounter in self-publishing is nailing down the right subtitle. Many authors might have pondered a title for years without recognizing the significance of a complementary subtitle.

Although this blog post may not replicate the Descriptive writing guide our authors at American Author House receive, it aims to guide you toward creating a subtitle that captures attention and boosts sales.

Remember, this process demands both time and creative thinking. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step in the book writing services process—it’s crucial in attracting and engaging potential readers.

What is a Subtitle of a Book?

A book subtitle is like a sidekick to the main title, adding extra details or explanations. It sits beneath the main title on the book cover design and offers more insights into what the book is all about.

The purpose of a subtitle is to give readers a clearer idea of what to expect inside the book. It could provide additional information about the book’s topic, theme, or the specific angle from which the author approaches the subject.

Think of the main title as the catchy headline that grabs attention, while the subtitle acts as a supporting player, diving deeper into the book’s content. It helps readers understand the book’s focus, the problems it addresses, or the knowledge it offers.

For instance, if a book’s main title is “Cooking 101,” the subtitle might be something like “Essential Recipes for Beginners.” Here, the subtitle adds more detail by indicating that the book is geared toward beginners and focuses on fundamental recipes.

Sometimes, subtitles clarify or highlight the book’s unique selling points. They can provide context, such as the period, geographic location, or specific aspects covered in the book. This information helps readers decide if the book aligns with their interests or needs.

Ultimately, a good subtitle complements the main title and works hand-in-hand to give readers a clearer picture of what the book is about. It is an important tool for readers to quickly grasp the book’s essence and decide if it’s something they’d like to explore further.

How To Write A Good Book Subtitle

Many authors tend to decide on their book’s cover elements—such as the title and subtitle—based solely on their preferences or desires. However, this approach might not align with what potential readers truly seek.

It’s crucial to remember that the book isn’t primarily for the author; it’s for the readers.

Similar to selecting an appropriate book cover, determining the subtitle requires authors to step away from their personal preferences. Instead, the focus should be on understanding what potential readers want to see. The goal is to create a subtitle that resonates with them and convinces them that the book is worth their attention and purchase.

So, here is how you can write a good book subtitle:

Step 1: Wait Until the Book is Finished

Avoid initiating the subtitle creation process until after you’ve completed writing fiction books or nonfiction books. Even if you’ve thoroughly outlined your book’s content, unforeseen changes may arise during the writing journey, altering the book’s direction.

It’s common for authors to start with a specific vision for their book, only to discover that the outcome is different. You ensure the book’s content is finalized by waiting until the book is written and self-edited before beginning work on the subtitle.

Starting too early in titling the book might restrict the writing process and force you to conform the content to fit the chosen subtitle. To best honor your book and its evolution, refrain from rushing into the subtitle creation process. Waiting until the book is complete allows for a more accurate and fitting subtitle that aligns with your finished work’s essence.

Step 2: Understand the Impact of Your Book on Readers

The subtitle is a direct message to your readers, explaining what they can expect from your book. It should center on two main aspects:

Identify Your Ideal Readers

Clearly define who your target audience or ideal readers are. Understand their characteristics, interests, and what they seek in a book.

Highlight the Book’s Benefit or Problem-Solving Aspect

Emphasize the specific benefit your book offers readers or the problems it addresses and solves for them. Ensure that this benefit or solution is clearly articulated in the subtitle.

These two messages form the core of what your subtitle should communicate. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of both aspects.

If there’s any uncertainty about either, it might be essential to reevaluate and refine your book’s content to align better with these aspects before focusing on crafting the subtitle.

Step 3: Consider the Tone of Your Book

Consider your book’s overall tone as you begin brainstorming for the subtitle. It’s crucial that both the title and subtitle align with the atmosphere and essence of your book.

Whether your book is characterized by:






or any other specific tone

Ensure that the title and subtitle reflect this tone right from the start. They should immediately convey your book’s mood or atmosphere to readers, offering a glimpse into what they can expect. Matching the tone in your subtitle helps set the right expectations for your audience and resonates better with them.

Step 4: Generating Subtitle Ideas

Crafting subtitles can be challenging, so don’t expect to find the perfect one quickly. We advise starting with a literal description of your book and then expanding from there.

If you’re unsure where to begin, try these techniques:

Imagine Your Ideal Reader

Envision the perfect reader for your book. What defines them? Consider their job, life circumstances, desires, or needs related to your book’s content.

Identify the Reader’s Benefits

Think about what you want this ideal reader to gain from your book. Will they learn, gain, transform, or solve something? Be specific about the outcomes you aim to provide.

Be as specific as possible when brainstorming. Begin with a detailed idea of what you want to accomplish for someone.

Step 4: Checking Copyright, Trademark, Competition & Meaning

It is really important when you are becoming an eBook writer and are writing a subtitle of your book to focus on the following things:

Copyright and Titles

Titles cannot be copyrighted. However, if your subtitle uses a phrase registered as a trademark, it might lead to trademark issues. It’s advisable to seek legal advice for copyright and trademark concerns.

Trademark and Similar Titles

Avoid using a subtitle similar to a trademarked phrase, and steer clear of subtitles resembling popular book titles. Research your chosen subtitles on Amazon to gauge similarity and potential competition.

Overused Phrases

Refrain from selecting a subtitle with an excessively used phrase or wording. An overused phrase might diminish the uniqueness and appeal of your book.

Unintended Meanings

Ensure your subtitle doesn’t unintentionally convey a different or unintended message. Utilize Google to check if your chosen subtitle has any unintended implications or meanings in current popular culture or language.

These precautions will help safeguard your subtitle from potential legal issues, competition, overused phrases, or unintended meanings, ensuring it remains distinct and relevant to your book’s unique message.

Elements A Good Book Subtitle Should Have

Crafting the ideal subtitle for a book doesn’t follow a strict formula, but successful subtitles often leverage these elements:


Effective subtitles include targeted keywords to attract attention from search engines and potential readers. However, avoiding stuffing too many keywords into the subtitle is vital, as it can appear unnatural.


Subtitles that flow smoothly and are enjoyable to read or say tend to stick in people’s minds. A good cadence gives your words a balanced rhythm and a pleasing sound. This musical quality helps your subtitle resonate with readers.


Aim to convey the main idea in as few words as possible without losing essential information. Shorter isn’t always superior, but excessive words can dilute the impact. Strike a balance by using only the necessary words to make your subtitle concise and effective.


Use clear and straightforward language to explain precisely how readers will gain from your book or the issues it resolves. Ensure that the benefit or solution is crystal clear in your subtitle.

The Rule of Three

Utilize the power of threes in your subtitle. The human brain tends to respond well to groups of three, so consider structuring your subtitle around three main goals, ideas, or problems your book addresses.

Main Attributes and Elaborate Information

Section Heading Content Key Points
What is a Subtitle of a Book? Definition and purpose of a subtitle Importance, location on book cover, insights
How To Write A Good Book Subtitle Steps to create an effective subtitle Waiting until the book is finished, impact on readers
1. Wait Until the Book is Finished Importance of finalizing content before subtitle Avoiding restrictions in the writing process
2. Understand the Impact of Your Book Identifying ideal readers and book’s benefit Clear messages for the target audience
3. Consider the Tone of Your Book Aligning subtitle with the book’s tone Reflecting humor, seriousness, optimism, etc.
4. Generating Subtitle Ideas Techniques for brainstorming ideas Envisioning ideal reader, identifying benefits
5. Checking Copyright, Trademark, Competition & Meaning Legal and practical considerations Copyright, trademark, competition, meanings
Elements A Good Book Subtitle Should Have Key components of effective subtitles Keywords, cadence, brevity, clarity, Rule of Three


A book subtitle is crucial in capturing readers’ interest by providing a clear glimpse into its content. Crafting an effective subtitle involves understanding your audience, conveying the book’s benefits, and aligning with its tone. It’s a tool to entice readers and communicate the essence of your book. Following the strategies discussed, you can create subtitles that resonate with your audience, enticing them to explore your literary creation. Mastering the art of writing compelling subtitles can significantly enhance your book’s appeal and engage readers effectively.

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