The print and ebook rights have now reverted back to me, and I’m working on a self-published international edition with a new title and cover. Many readers have asked me not to change the title. Here’s why I am.
“I love the title,” kind folks say. “Why change it?”
The problem is that folks outside New Zealand who haven’t read the book don’t respond to ‘Moon Over Martinborough’ very strongly at all. When you think about it, that makes sense. ‘Martinborough’ means nothing to them.
My goal in choosing the new title is to have the broadest possible appeal to folks in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia.
I went through three steps to determine the new title.
1) Testing words
I used Google Trends to compare keywords to see which were words were most searched for, such as:
- ‘olive grove’ vs ‘olive farm’ (‘olive grove’ wins)
- ‘rural’ vs ‘countryside’ (‘rural’ wins)
- ‘expat’ vs ‘American’ (‘American’ wins)
Also, ‘New Zealand’ generally tested high as a keyword, so I wanted to include that somehow.
2) Testing titles
I tested new titles using a market research site called PickFu.com. It’s a great site for getting relatively unbiased feedback through polls.
The respondents represent a cross-section of US web users, so it’s also good for an overseas ‘ear to the ground.’
I tested five titles:
- Moon Over Martinborough
- Olives and Animals
- An Olive Grove at the End of the World
- Olive and Kicking
- Totally Green
The title that won hands down as a phrase that would grab people’s interest was: ‘An Olive Grove at the End of the Word’. However, a few respondents wondered if the phrase ‘end of the world’ meant it was a post-apocalyptic story. There’s really nothing apocalyptic about my book at all, although admittedly some animals do die.
So I tested these two titles on PickFu:
- An Olive Grove at the END of the World
- An Olive Grove at the EDGE of the World
I asked, ‘Which title is more appealing?’ and 80% voted for ‘edge.’ They felt that ‘edge’ sounded adventurous and ‘end’ sounded apocalyptic.
3) Testing subtitles
Next, I went on to test subtitles on PickFu, including these:
- How 500 trees, some chickens, and a pet pig changed my life
- Stories of olives and animals from an American city boy in rural New Zealand
- How two American city boys became olive farmers in rural New Zealand
- How two American city boys built a new life in rural New Zealand
- A memoir
‘How two American city boys built a new life in rural New Zealand’ had the broadest appeal.
What results is a long book title with a long subtitle, but it’s chock-full of good keywords for findability, so I’m okay with that.
When it finally comes out, the international edition of my book will be called, “An Olive Grove at the Edge of the World: How two American city boys built a new life in rural New Zealand.”
Next week, I’ll talk about the design competition I ran, and I’ll reveal the new cover!
[Note: Hat tip to Tim Ferris, who taught me about testing titles on his blog.]