Clarity Over Cleverness: An Author’s Journey

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPamela Wilson is the Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital, the company behind the popular content marketing website Copyblogger. She co-hosts a biweekly podcast called ZeroToBook with bestselling author Jeff Goins. The show follows Pamela’s progress in self-publishing from start to finish.

In June, Pamela was anxious to give her work a name so that she could start sharing it with people. During an episode of the podcast, she and Jeff discussed the importance of a book’s title and Jeff explained a methodical process for ideating titles and getting unbiased feedback from potential customers.

At the heart of his process – PickFu.

Gauge your audience before you publish

Jeff explained to Pamela how PickFu polls readers and tests their reactions to potential book titles. The respondents not only vote on their preference, but leave a written explanation about their choice. By polling audiences, authors gain a unique understanding of what the title conveys, how readers perceive what the book is about, and whether they are interested in knowing more.

Shortly after the podcast, Pamela gave PickFu a try. She tested 12 different titles. Some titles fell away quickly, as audiences clearly showed a preference for alternatives. For instance, 71% of respondents preferred The Blank Page Cure over the punny The Write Way to Market Your Business with Content. Other titles consistently polled well, including The Content Mentor and Content Mastery.

Speed and Confidence

“I couldn’t believe how quickly I got my results back,” Pamela said. “I had gone back and forth with ideas in my head for weeks. I should have just used PickFu so I could move on to thinking about other (more productive) things.”

As Pamela narrowed her list of contenders, she began to test various subtitles, too. She folded in what PickFu respondents had told her about some of her ideas, such as a cure for the blank page, into her subtitle options.

“I do trust my instincts,” she said, “but I think it’s especially challenging to see your project as others see it when you’ve been nose down in it for many months. PickFu helped me to find the book title the majority of people were drawn to.”

Feedback matters

In the end, Pamela named her book Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues & Attract a Profitable Audience.

“I realized that clarity is more important than cleverness,” she said. “This is a marketing lesson I know well — and even teach. But sometimes you have to be reminded of the things you already know. The winning title was the clearest and most direct of all the options I put on PickFu.”

Judging a book by its cover

Pamela wasn’t done with PickFu just yet. It was now time to work on a cover design. She had an idea for her book’s cover but needed to know what color scheme worked best. Pamela ran a three-option round-robin poll, whereby each option is tested against the other two.

round-robin-poll

She then polled the winner of the round-robin against a similar color scheme:

test-book-covers

“[PickFu is] the quickest way to get feedback on an idea from a broad range of people.” Pamela remarked. “Don’t guess what people will think — find out by asking them!”

Pamela’s book will be available soon. Until then, subscribe to her podcast and follow her on Twitter!


Also published on Medium.