A computer study of book titles shows that while you can’t necessarily judge a book by its cover the title may very well have a big impact on sales.

Lulu.com, the Raleigh-based firm set up for authors and artists to publish their own works, conducted the study. It analyzed every novel to have topped hardcover fiction bestseller lists from The New York Times between 1955 and 2004 and compared them to less successful novels by the same authors.

The study’s conclusion: “Sleeping Murder” by Agatha Christie is the “perfect title” for a best-seller. John le Carre was also praised for some of his title selections.

Among the study’s findings, according to Lulu, are:

  • “Figurative or abstract titles, such as “Sleeping Murder,” or “Presumed Innocent,” produce more top-sellers than literal ones, such as “The Da Vinci Code.”

  • “A title’s length does not affect sales – contrary to publishing industry wisdom, which decrees that bestseller titles be short.”
  • To help authors pick a title for their books, Lulu is offering a title scorer program. For details, see: wwww.lulu.com/titlescorer