A conversation about book subtitles should always start with genre, as best practices for subtitling vary from genre to genre. Recently, a memoirist I’m working with presented me with a long list of things her editor felt a subtitle needed to achieve, including that it have a rhythm, exhibit a progression, and stand on its own. If your subtitle can accomplish all of this and more, great, but most subtitles can’t and won’t. The quest for a perfect book subtitle is often elusive, and setting yourself up to hit various arbitrary benchmarks won’t always serve your book.
As an author advocate, part of me dislikes creating a top ten list with a negative slant, and yet, it’s so easy to get things wrong in book publishing that it’s easy to come up with a list like the one below, which is hardly comprehensive. If you recognize your book in any of these errors, don’t fret. Part of becoming an author, and especially a self-published author, has to do with learning the ropes, and doing it better each time around to avoid common mistakes authors make.