How to choose a good book title

Picking a good title for an academic book is vital for getting your work seen by other researchers in your field. Good academic titles reveal not only the topic but also an idea of the specific approach, argument or area of discussion. This post provides a helpful guide to choosing a title for your academic monograph.

First of all, remember that keywords are crucial. Think about the key terms you use throughout your work and make sure they’re included in the title. Make sure these keywords are also used throughout the book, in chapter headings and in the book blurbs.

Think about what search terms people would use if they were searching for your book and make sure you include these. Start by googling your potential title. If there are not many results this might mean that the terms you are using are not in common usage and therefore are best avoided. However, if there are many results be sure to check that there are no other books, papers or journals with the same title as yours as this will only cause confusion. In short, you want to get an idea of whether people are already searching for the keywords you’re using. Make sure the results that come up in your search are in the right discipline.

There is a difference between the main title and the subtitle. Sometimes books are only cited by the main title not the subtitle so make sure you’re not hiding any key information in the subtitle. The subtitle can contain more specific information such as the region or the kind of approach used which is not essential to the overall topic of the book. The specifics of the context, the precise languages covered or the specific participants of the study can be detailed in the blurb and the book. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the title of the book.

Use clear and concise language to describe the topic of the book. Don’t use obscure academic terminology or jargon which isn’t widely known in the field. Remember, booksellers are not always experts in your field so the title needs to be clear to those who only have a broad understanding of the topic. Equally, if you’re coining a new term or phase in your book, it might be best to avoid using this in the main title as it won’t be known to many people and they won’t use it as a search term to find the book. Avoid using a clever or funny phrase as a title. Although it might mean something to you, out of context it won’t mean anything to anyone else and it won’t accurately convey the content of the book. Many people think an alliterative or quirky title is more appealing but really this is not appropriate for an academic audience and it is best to just focus on making the content clear.

Remember that the book title is sometimes the only thing a potential reader will see before making a decision as to whether to find out more. Make sure it is attractive to researchers in your field without being misleading or ambiguous. There’s so much research out there you want to make yours memorable so that readers realise it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Good book titles
Examples of good book titles

Good examples of academic book titles:

  • Complexity in Classroom Foreign Language Learning Motivation: A Practitioner Perspective from Japan – This displays the overall topic as well as the specifics of the author’s context.
  • Multilingual Perspectives on Child Language Disorders –This clearly depicts the area covered and the perspectives taken.
  • The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown: A Sociolinguistic Ethnography – As well as a clear main title, the subtitle here clarifies the approach taken.

Bad examples of academic book titles:

  • Language and Society – This is too broad and does not show what aspects of language and society are being explored.
  • Discover, Discuss, Debate: Investigating Language Use in the Multilingual Classroom – Although the main title might sound snappy and appealing it actually tells you nothing about the book and in fact, the subtitle would make a much better main title.

Key tips

  • Use as many keywords as possible in the title, preferably ones that you have also used throughout the book.
  • Think about the search terms that potential readers would use when searching for your book and include those in the title.
  • You need to remember that sometimes all the information a potential reader will have about your book is the title. If that isn’t enough to sell it, you’ve missed your chance.
  • Don’t use obscure or incomprehensible language or technical jargon.
  • Don’t be vague, anything with multiple meanings that could be misconstrued or misunderstood should be avoided.

The Life of a Book – Post-production!

Laura showing off some newly arrived books
Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Arguably the most exciting days in our office are the days when new books arrive. We love receiving such packages from the printer and having the final product in our hands, and we’re sure that our authors feel a sense of joy and achievement on receiving their copies. To some, this is seen as the end of a journey – the editorial and production work has been successfully completed and the job of publishing the work is done. But as a publisher, we’d be pretty useless if we saw this as the time to stop working with a book. In fact, for us in the marketing department, this is our moment to shine!

Elinor and I will have been busy in the run-up to publication setting things up ready for the book’s publication. This means that we will already have let all our distributors, wholesalers and sales reps know that the book is on its way; we will have ensured that the book has a complete listing on our website; and we will have provided the author with marketing materials, such as information sheets and discount flyers for them to give to any interested potential readers.

The ground has then been properly laid for us to start the immediate marketing of a book on publication. We announce that the work has been published to as many people as possible. We inform all industry members, such as wholesalers and sales reps, that the work is now available for their customers and try and reach as many customers as possible directly. This might be done by posting on listservs, such as Linguist List (Multilingual Matters titles) and Trinet (Channel View Publications titles), sending a newsletter to our email subscribers, sharing the news with our Facebook and Twitter followers and informing journal book reviews editors and authors of related blogs, for example.

All our new books are available simultaneously as print and ebooks, so there is also work to be done to get news of the ebook out. Sarah, our production manager, ensures that the book is available to purchase on a variety of platforms, and we ensure that it is also available on our own website. At this stage we also start to send out inspection/desk copies to those who have requested one from our website and we give the option of an ebook rather than a print copy. This means that course leaders get the text immediately and can start considering it for adoption on a course much quicker than the traditional way.

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at AAAL earlier this year
Anna and Tommi promoting our books at the AAAL conference earlier this year

Once the initial marketing has been completed and the buzz may have quietened down, we continue to publicise the work through other avenues. Common ways of doing so are through our catalogue mailings, and additional flyers and materials we produce for our sales reps, series editors and authors to distribute. We also attend many conferences throughout the year and always have lots of our recent and relevant titles with us on display. On occasions when we can’t attend an event in person we frequently send display copies and discount order forms to continue to make potential readers aware of our books.

When a book reaches 6 months old we review its progress at an editorial meeting. We look at the sales figures and discuss how its early sales are looking. This is a useful stage to review a title as it is still young enough to be of interest to booksellers and so we give a title a marketing boost if we feel that we may have missed an opportunity. This is the time when we start to see the very first reviews of a book appear in journals and these continue to appear over the course of the next few years.

On a book’s first birthday we again review its progress and might even start to think about reprinting copies of the work if it has been particularly successful. We monitor our stock levels each month so we try and ensure that we are on top of demand and that a book is always available, but occasionally we’ll receive an unexpected order, perhaps if it is suddenly adopted for a course and we receive a bulk order from a university bookshop preparing for the start of a semester.

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series
Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

We continue to monitor sales annually and promote the book when appropriate for as long as there is demand for it – often for many years after publication. Occasionally a book will receive additional attention, such as from a foreign publisher wishing to buy the rights to translate it into a foreign language. This is a really exciting time and such news is always greeted enthusiastically both in our office and by an author who is usually chuffed to hear that their work is to be translated and published for a new audience. We have recently sold our books for publication into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Korean, Macedonian and Greek. Of course at this point, the book gets a second lease of life and it’s down to the foreign publisher to repeat the life cycle of a book as outlined in this post!

Laura

Getting to know the Channel View team: Elinor

In this blog post we get to know Elinor. Elinor is our Marketing Manager and celebrated 10 years of working for CVP/MM last summer. She was also a student here at the University of Bristol, where she studied German and Spanish, so she has lived in Bristol for even longer than that. She’s pretty good at knowing about new places to see and things to do in Bristol, so we’ll start by asking her about her favourite hobbies.

Ellie in a tree
Elinor enjoying the great outdoors

You’ve lived in Bristol for quite a few years now, what are your favourite things to do in the city (aside from working for CVP/MM that is!)?

There is always so much going on in Bristol that there is always something to see and do. But I think my favourite things to do are wandering along the harbourside or through Ashton Court stopping off for coffee and cake along the way.

The harbourside area is one of my favourite places too and Ashton Court is such a lovely green space, those sound like good suggestions to me, especially if accompanied by coffee and cake! You must have quite a sweet tooth then, do you do much baking at home?

Yes I love to bake cakes and biscuits and once I even worked my way through a book of 101 cake recipes in a year. It was fun but pretty hard work to bake 2 cakes a week for a year but my friends and colleagues really enjoyed sampling the results! With several keen bakers in the office we quite often have delicious home-baked treats to get us through our long meetings!

Ellie showing off her baking skills
Elinor showing off her baking skills

I remember that year well, I think I had to do double the amount of exercise to burn off the calories from all your delicious cake! I’m guessing your bookshelves are lined with lots of cookery books, but are you also a big reader of fiction, or any other genre?

Ha! Yes fortunately the excess of cake didn’t affect our waistlines too much! As well as the many baking recipe books I pore over on a regular basis, I love to read fiction and get through several books a month. Although I mostly read contemporary fiction, I also appreciate the odd classic and enjoy nothing more than spending a good hour or so in the library picking new books to read. In fact, it’s getting to the point where my shelves at home are overflowing with unread books but I still can’t stop myself acquiring more!

It’s good to be keeping libraries busy too! Do you have any favourite books or authors to recommend?

This is a tricky one, I have so many favourites! One of my all-time favourite books is Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. The best book I have read recently is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

I agree that selecting a favourite book is very difficult!  So, one final question before we do some quick-fire ones to round up the interview, if you could be a character in a (fiction) book, who might you choose to be?

Ooh that’s really difficult! Although I like the idea of being in a Jane Austen novel and going to balls, I think that being a woman in that era would be a bit too restrictive for my liking! Might be fun to try out for a day though.

A day would certainly be fun!  Just a few more questions and then you’re done:

Cakes or biscuits? Too difficult. I refuse to answer. Both play such an important role in my life, it would be like choosing your favourite child!

Rural or urban? Again, a very difficult question. I love living in a city but enjoy escaping to the countryside for walks.

Dancing or singing? Singing

Board games or card games? Board games

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset

Motorbike or pushbike? Cycling on a normal bike is scary enough at times! I wouldn’t dream of getting on a motorbike.

Antique or modern? Modern

Our new catalogues are now available

In order to save precious resources – both the planet’s and our own! – we haven’t mailed out our catalogue so widely this year. Instead, our latest catalogues are now available to view online or you can download the PDF. Just click on the covers to download the PDF or follow the links below for the online versions.

MM Catalogue front pageCV Catalogue front page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can view the catalogues online here:

Multilingual Matters

Channel View Publications

Alternatively, if you would like to receive your own hard copy please email us at info@channelviewpublications.com with your mailing address and we will be happy to send you one.

Don’t forget you can also sign up to our email newsletters to keep up-to-date with the latest on our new books and special offers.

We have made the decision not to mail out our catalogue as widely this year due to a number of reasons. Rising mailing costs as well as high numbers of returned catalogues have meant that a mass mailing has become unsustainable. We are aware that many hundreds of catalogues get thrown away as they are sent out to people who have moved or no longer want the catalogue and we hate the idea of this waste. Keeping a large mailing list up-to-date just adds to the difficulties of keeping costs down at a time when our budgets are already constrained.

However, we would be very happy to send out a copy of the catalogue to anyone who prefers a print copy to the electronic version so please just request a copy from info@channelviewpublications.com if you’d like one.

A-Z of Publishing: W is for…

W is for WebsiteW is for Website. Our website is probably the first port of call for anyone wanting to get in touch with us. On our website you can find information about all our published and forthcoming books, as well as information on submitting book proposals, guidelines on manuscript preparation for authors, our inspection/desk copy and permissions request forms, contact details for all of us (and a photo so you can put a face to a name!) and much more useful information.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

A-Z of Publishing: T is for…

T is for TwitterT is for Twitter. We are active on social media and have Twitter and Facebook accounts for both imprints. If you use social media, please like or follow us to keep up-to-date with our latest news. The links to our listings are: MM Facebook page, CVP Facebook page, MM Twitter page and CVP Twitter page.

This post is part of our ‘A-Z of Publishing’ series which we will be posting every Monday throughout the rest of 2015. You can search the blog for the rest of the series or subscribe to the blog to receive an email as soon as the next post is published by using the links on the right of the page.

Designing book covers

The book cover design process is one of the parts of production that usually gets our authors excited and I really enjoy working with them, together with Sarah (our production manager) and our external designers on the covers.

We start designing the covers right at the beginning of the production process, as soon as the book has been approved for publication in fact. The reason for this is that we like to get the blurbs and design confirmed early so that we can start using them in our marketing materials.

TCC booksEach book series has a standard series design and each book in the series must have a cover which conforms to this design. This gives the series a strong identity and makes our books easily recognisable. Anyone who has several of our books on a similar topic on their bookcase will soon see how similar the spines are! This conformity does not restrict the process however, and there is still plenty of opportunity for some creativity and fun during the design process!

Most of our series allow for a cover with or without an image and we give our authors the choice between having an image or a plain cover. Some authors opt to have a cover with no image as it can be hard to find an image which effectively sums up the contents of the book. In this case we at least give them a say in the colours we use!

Tourism and HumourOther authors are keen to have an image and we always make sure that they are then involved in deciding the artwork. Over the years that I have been doing covers we have been provided with all sorts of pictures, ranging from photographs taken by authors themselves to sketches done by a child of an editor to artwork created by the subjects of the book’s study, and everything in between! Where possible we try and use the authors’ first choice of artwork, but there are occasions when this is not possible, perhaps when permission can’t be secured from the copyright holder or the subjects of the image or a high resolution file can’t be obtained.

Teachers as Mediators in the Foreign Language ClassroomWhen authors want an image but don’t have one themselves I usually help them search image libraries for suitable artwork. Browsing image libraries can be quite fun and the wide range of images available is incredible. However, searching image libraries can also be quite stressful! This is because we sometimes struggle to find an image that looks natural and not too staged or because we have a clear picture in our mind of exactly what we want but simply can’t find it. On one occasion I actually went out with my own camera and set up the photo that was used on the cover!

Once the image has been chosen our designer draws up a proof, selecting colours which match the artwork or those that the author has suggested. The proof is then sent to the authors for checking and revisions are made before the cover is checked again. The front cover is then made into a jpg and we send it off to retailers and bibliographic databases as well as uploading it to our website.

Tommi with our beautiful display of books at a conference
Tommi with our beautiful display of books at a conference

At this stage the back cover doesn’t have any reviews on it, as these are requested at the time that the design process is started and we usually give people a couple of months to read a manuscript and provide an endorsement. Once the quotes are received they are then added to the back cover and then the whole cover is checked by the authors, Sarah and me; and then finalised for print. The most rewarding part of the process for both us and the authors is, of course, finally receiving the printed copy of the book. People often come by our stand at conferences and tell us how colourful and attractive our books are, and that really makes our day!

Laura

EUROSLA Conference in York

EUROSLA Conference in York

The end of the summer is almost synonymous with the annual EUROSLA conference, and this year was no different. The conference moves around Europe, with recent previous conferences being held in the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. This year the gathering headed to the UK where the conference was hosted by the University of York on its brand new campus.

The University of York Campus
The University of York Campus

As a graduate of the university I was especially happy to attend and was delighted to have the opportunity to revisit some of my favourite haunts. The conference venue is very new, and situated in still undeveloped green space, so it was interesting for me to see how the university has evolved since I left. The building was the perfect space for the conference and we publishers were situated in the entrance atrium with lovely views out to the lakes where numerous ducks and geese were enjoying a dip!

Conference Drinks Reception at the Yorkshire Museum
Conference Drinks Reception at the Yorkshire Museum

The programme consisted of the usual array of high quality posters, talks and plenaries on the many aspects of second language acquisition. We brought all the recent titles in our SLA series to the conference, as well as a few of our other related titles. Unsurprisingly, Vivian Cook and David Singleton’s new textbook Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition was the best-selling book, followed by Measuring L2 Proficiency edited by Pascale Leclercq, Amanda Edmonds and Heather Hilton.

As usual, the conference organisers also put on a fantastic social programme to match the academic one. The delegates enjoyed a drinks reception in the Yorkshire museum which is set in beautiful gardens. There, we were greeted by the Lord Mayor of York and listened to music from a cellist and jazz quartet; the music was so lively some of us were even tempted to dance! The dancing was an excellent warm up for the next evening.

Conference Dinner at the National Railway Museum in York
Conference Dinner at the National Railway Museum in York

The conference dinner was hosted by the National Railway Museum and we dined among a selection of fascinating trains, my favourites being Queen Victoria’s carriage and the post cart. After dinner a ceilidh (a traditional Scottish dance) was a fun way to end the evening. A few of us had rather sore feet the next day!

EUROSLA 2015 is to be in Aix-en-Provence in France – we are already looking forward to it!

Laura

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands
Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands

For many people in the book trade, October is almost synonymous with the Frankfurt Book Fair and it is no different for Channel View/Multilingual Matters.  For us, the only change this year was that Tommi, Sarah and I decided that we would drive to the fair as we wanted to see some of Europe, rather than fly straight to Germany as usual.  On our way to Germany we visited the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium and had lunch in Luxembourg City before finally arriving in Boppard, a small town approximately 75 miles west of Frankfurt where we stayed a couple of nights.

The view towards the Moselle from our hike
The view towards the Moselle from our hike

We spent a day hiking in the hills between the Moselle and Rhine Valleys which was beautiful, especially as the trees were just beginning to change colour.  We walked about 12 miles and although Tommi had sensibly chosen paths that were mainly downhill (!) Sarah and I were still extremely tired afterwards – perhaps not the best preparation for a busy week of work!  It took a traditional German dinner, good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast before we’d recovered enough to drive across to Frankfurt where we met Elinor ready for the start of the book fair.

Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The fair provides us with an annual opportunity to meet and discuss business with others working in the industry.  Tommi and Elinor meet with our sales reps who sell our books in less directly accessible markets, such as India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia and distributors and wholesalers who make sure that our books get to our customers, and that our customers know of our books.  Sarah meets with those involved in the production side of the industry, such as printers and typesetters, as well as an increasing number of people working on digital projects who she may collaborate with on ebooks and related matter.  Finally, I meet with representatives from foreign publishing houses who are interested in buying the translation rights to our titles for publication in languages other than English.

In between meetings we nibbled our usual selection of German snacks (we’re big fans of Rittersport and Gummi bears) and made the most of the sausages and schnitzel available for lunch!  We spent the evenings sampling yet more traditional German food and we enjoyed the annual drinks reception held by the Independent Publishers Guild, which we are members of.  As ever, we made the most of the opportunities that the fair offers us to meet colleagues from around the world; talk about what’s happening in the industry and discuss future projects and partnerships.  We have all made it safely back to the office and it won’t be long before it’s time to think about next year’s trip!

Laura