I recently became aware of the Titlescorer feature on Lulu’s website. Lulu is a self-publishing website that allows authors of all genres to create, print and sell their books. I knew about them, but didn’t know that one of the features they offer for anyone is a non-scientific (but fun) title scorer. When you put in your title, it tells you the calculated success rate. Their website states:
The Lulu Titlescorer has been developed exclusively for Lulu by statisticians who studied the titles of 50 years' worth of top bestsellers and identified which title attributes separated the bestsellers from the rest. We commissioned a research team to analyse the title of every novel to have topped the hardback fiction section of the New York Times Bestseller List during the half-century from 1955 to 2004 and then compare them with the titles of a control group of less successful novels by the same authors. The team, lead by British statistician Dr. Atai Winkler, then used the data gathered from a total of some 700 titles to create this "Lulu Titlescorer" a program able to predict the chances that any given title would produce a New York Times No. 1 bestseller. The fruit of this work is presented here, in the form of the Lulu Titlescorer: a program that you can use to gauge the chances that your own title will deliver you a New York Times No. 1 bestseller.
Even so, this is not an exact science. Far from it. In fact, Dr. Winkler advises that the Lulu Titlescorer should, in practice, always be combined with use of your own low-tech judgment.
It is not an exact science, but let’s admit that the concept is fun.
I put in the working title of my next book and it scored only 10.2%. I put in a couple more ideas and they, too, came in at 10.2%. I came up with a title that sort of fit, and that came up at 26.3%. So I have been brainstorming to come up with a better title. Until early this morning when I went back to Titlescorer to put in another suggested title and I took note of the three drop down filters that I hadn’t paid too much attention to before.
This morning I did pay attention, selecting exactly what the first word was (noun, verb, adjective, etc) and exactly what the second word was. When I put in my working title, all of a sudden it rated 26.3%.
Having said that, the first thing I did before considering a title was run it by Amazon to see if/how many books had the same title. When I started my second book, I wanted the title to be Unintended Consequences. I put that in Amazon and whoa – so many books already had that title, and so I decided not to consider it.
Have fun playing with Titlescorer, but remember Lulu’s advice – this should be combined with your own judgment.