Put your title to the test

Want to know if you've got a killer title for your novel? Now, for the first time in literary history, you can put your title to the scientific test and find out whether it has what it takes for bestseller success.

Are you brave enough to put your title to the test?

New! Pit two titles head-to-head with the new Lulu Titlefight!

What Do I Do?

  1. Enter your novel title in the field at the top of the page.
  2. Use the drop-down menus to choose the variables which best describe the attributes of your title.
  3. Click "Analyze my title!"

Score represents the percentage chance of its being a number one hit. Results are between 9% and 83% chance of bestseller success.

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Literal Figurative Help

Literal

Example: Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger. The novel largely consists of dialogue between the two main characters, Franny and Zooey, making the title completely literal.

The Harry Potter titles are good examples of literal titles.

Figurative

Example: Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. The story's two main characters are named William Kane and Abel Rosnovski — simple, Kane and Abel. What makes the title figurative is the parallel to the Old Testament Biblical story of Cain who kills his brother Abel. To a reader familiar with this story, the plot of Archer's novel takes on an additional layer of meaning due to both the contrasts and parallels with the biblical story.
Help

Single noun

Simple, typified by most of John Grisham's legal dramas — The Testament or The Chamber. Or something without the definite article the, like Dreamcatcher by Stephen King or Paradise by Toni Morrison.

Single proper noun (name)

A single name of a person or a place, such as Hannibal by Thomas Harris or Isle of Dogs (which is a part of London) by Patricia Cornwell.

Noun with noun

For example, Devices and Desires by P. D. James. For lack of a category "proper noun with proper noun," something like Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger would also come under this category.

Possessive case with noun

Gerald's Game by Stephen King; The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan.

Adjective with noun

Mixed Blessings by Danielle Steel; Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy.

Noun modified by noun

A potentially confusing description — Dragon Tears by Dean R. Koontz or The Pelican Brief by John Grisham would fit this category, where Brief (as in a lawyer's brief) is modified by another noun rather than an adjective.

Noun modified by verb or place; Noun modified by name; Proper noun used as adjective or modifier

These categories overlap significantly. For a noun modified by place, Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks; for a noun modified by a verb, Rising Sun by Michael Crichton. For a proper noun used as adjective or modifier, look at Robert Ludlum's titles, such as The Bourne Ultimatum or at mega-hit The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The __ of ____

Many titles take this pattern: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix would come under this category. So would something like Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan, despite the missing the.

Grammatically complete phrase

A phrase that could stand alone grammatically as a sentence: You Belong to Me by Mary Higgins Clark or I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb.

Other phrase with verb (not grammatically complete)

A phrase that could form a part of sentence, like On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark.

Phrase with no verb

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell would fit this category. Despite being seemingly a "The __ of ___," it is a common phrase in the context of medicine or law-enforcement. Another example might be One Door Away From Heaven by Dean R. Koontz.

Number and letters; Titles with numbers; Quantities, dates or times

1876 by Gore Vidal; QB VII by Leon Uris.

Single adjective

An adjective is a word describing a noun, you will remember from school: for example, Bittersweet by Danielle Steel.

Other

Any odd-one-out that doesn't seem to fit any of the other categories.
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Abstract noun

The simplest way to describe the difference between an abstract and a concrete noun is that you can't touch an abstract noun. Of course, you can't exactly touch the wind, but you can feel it on your skin or hear it. An abstract noun refers to something completely intangible, which cannot be experienced by one of our five senses, like an emotion or a feeling, or an abstract concept, like Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell.

Concrete noun

A concrete noun is something tangible, something that exists in the world of the five physical senses, like Prey by Michael Crichton.

Pronoun

A pronoun stands in for another noun (or nouns) or a name (or names), such as in We'll Meet Again by Mary Higgins Clark.

Proper noun

The name of a person or place, like Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Or, indeed, an animal: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

Adjective

Describes a noun: Naked Prey by John Sandford.

Adverb

Describes a verb or the manner of doing something. It often answers the question "How?" and generally ends in —ly. Has been an extremely unusual first word over 50 years of NYT best selling book titles. For a unique example, we have to go all the way back to 1955 and Sincerely, Willis Wayde by John Marquand.

Verb

Come on, you know what a verb is.

Exclamation, greeting

Something like the Oh in Oh, the Places You'll Go by the inimitable Dr. Seuss.

Preposition, article

This covers both the definite and indefinite articles, a and the; and prepositions (and strictly speaking conjunctions, as well), such as in From the Corner of His Eye by Dean R. Koontz.

Number, quantity, or date

Self-explanatory enough: Seven Up by Janet Evanovich.

Other

Anything you can't make fit anywhere else.
Help

Abstract noun

The simplest way to describe the difference between an abstract and a concrete noun is that you can't touch an abstract noun. Of course, you can't exactly touch the wind, but you can feel it on your skin or hear it. An abstract noun refers to something completely intangible, which cannot be experienced by one of our five senses, like an emotion or a feeling, or an abstract concept, like Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell.

Concrete noun

A concrete noun is something tangible, something that exists in the world of the five physical senses, like Prey by Michael Crichton.

Pronoun

A pronoun stands in for another noun (or nouns) or a name (or names), such as in We'll Meet Again by Mary Higgins Clark.

Proper noun

The name of a person or place, like Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Or, indeed, an animal: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

Adjective

Describes a noun: Naked Prey by John Sandford.

Adverb

Describes a verb or the manner of doing something. It often answers the question "How?" and generally ends in —ly. Has been an extremely unusual first word over 50 years of NYT best selling book titles. For a unique example, we have to go all the way back to 1955 and Sincerely, Willis Wayde by John Marquand.

Verb

Come on, you know what a verb is.

Exclamation, greeting

Something like the Oh in Oh, the Places You'll Go by the inimitable Dr. Seuss.

Preposition, article

This covers both the definite and indefinite articles, a and the; and prepositions (and strictly speaking conjunctions, as well), such as in From the Corner of His Eye by Dean R. Koontz.

Number, quantity, or date

Self-explanatory enough: Seven Up by Janet Evanovich.

Other

Anything you can't make fit anywhere else.
Yes No

THE LULU TITLESCORER: WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?

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.

THE LULU TITLESCORER "WEIRD TITLE CHALLENGE"

The Lulu Titlescorer is a useful tool, which, in Lulu's 50-year study of some 700 novels, proved 40% better than random guess-work in guessing whether a particular title had produced a bestseller or not. "It guessed right in nearly 70% of cases," says Dr Atai Winkler. "Given the nature of the data and the way tastes change, this is very good — better than we might have expected."

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 judgement.

This is because, for all the work that went it, the Lulu Titlescorer is capable of giving high scores to titles that most of us would rate as weird, if not terrible. Meanwhile, of course, it also gives low scores to the titles of novels (e.g. The Da Vinci Code) which, in fact, topped the New York Times bestseller list for long periods.

So, as well as using the Titlescorer to test the merits of your own title, you can also play around with it to see what is the worst or downright weirdest title you can come up with that still earns a high score.

About Lulu.com

Lulu gives you the power to publish and sell books, ebooks, calendars, images, music, video and more at no upfront cost. Founded by Bob Young, who previously co-founded Red Hat, the open source software company, Lulu is now the world's fastest-growing source of print-on-demand books.