Listing a Book's Title and Author – Variations

I recently went through seeking what prices other booksellers are asking for a book I have on hand. I typed in the last name only of the author and the title. Quite a few copies out there. 271, That counting duplicate listings on the first search line – even if one halves that number with sellers using more than one outlet it is a high number. So if I expect to sell it I either have to be competitive in pricing (around $10us), creative in my listing or expect to sit on it. Most likely I will use/do all three.

In the search I did I saw 8 different headings for this single book due to variations in the author’s name (Full 3 names, middle initial only, birth/death dates in parentheses, variations in the title (Intro by…,), and one line had the word “The” missing as the starting word of the title and “The” was (most likely accidentally) placed with the author’s name. – All others had “The…” in the title. It was by itself under the “See also” line uses and it brought up the book showing a single seller with their offering under 3 venues. A bit on the high side price wise from what I had seen others asking but their book was separate from the rest by excluding the simple word “The”.

I then noticed that I had excluded the word “The” in my search terms. I tried again and found the single sellers listing was no longer there. Bookfinder did not bring it up because I typed in the full title… – Hmmm. Not good…

I decided to try playing with the author’s name and added his first name without the middle initial or the word “The” at the start of the books title. Came up with the same 8 lines as I started with once again. Added his full middle name, which, by the way is not on the cover, title, or copyright page. As far as I could see only his middle initial is given in the book itself. – Only 5 lines with full name and variations in the title. – All the listings that had the middle initial did not come up.

Revise search again and try it with the middle initial, without the word “The” and It brings up only 3 lines plus the extra single that, as previously stated, did not have “The’ in the title.

Some readers that are still with me on this and not totally confused yet might be wondering why I was wasting so much time on a $10 book (if I’m lucky). I tried this little experiment to see how I should list my book for best exposure on one of the most popular book search sites on the internet. It is still sort of a tossup.

An error in your title/author listing can put a book on a line by itself but might also cause mistrust in a potential buyer. Adding or deleting words that are not in the title or varying the way it is written (“Title: with intro by” or “Title; with intro by” would be on two separate lines simply due to punctuation) can make your book stand out from the rest and make your copy the only one a potential buyer sees IF they click on your line. Typing it exactly as the cover/title page will put your listing in with the seething masses where most buyers will be most likely to click. And what to do if the title page and cover have variations??? – I’m sure at this point there is a Shakespeare quote that is fitting. Something about consternation. –

I would suggest if going with the ‘seething masses’ that you make your listing stand out with a bit of synopsis or keywords. –  How can a book seller stand out from the crowd?

In the end it will all boil down to each seller’s personal preference. Long time booksellers may know of this phenomenon and through the comments give us their preferences (and why of course) but the reason for this posting is for those that didn’t know of the alternatives available in something that should be so simple.

Hey! Here is the Shakespeare quote. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – In this case it is ‘A title by any other name would smell as sweet” but then only if it sells.

Paul Young –

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