Today, I’m all about taglines.
(Get ready to sense my love for them as this baby’s a long post.)
What are those, you ask?
It’s a short description. It’s a catchphrase. It functions as marketing/branding tool. It’s a hook to get someone’s attention in a very brief verbal “punch.”
JUST DO IT
You recognize that one? Nike hopes you do. Nike wants you to DO IT (BE ACTIVE, go out, run, hike, climb mountains, play ball, with their stuff on your body.) Three syllables to make a great branding tagline. Ideal.
Here’s one excellent encapsulation of what a tagline is/does: “…taglines are created to leave a lasting effect during a short encounter with the recipient. If formed correctly, a tagline will summarize the overall benefit of what is being advertised. Whether it is a product, business, service, or idea, the tagline offers comprehensive information that can easily be remembered.”
A tagline should not be just some bland description: Write Well.
(Although that works great if it’s an actual well from which the author plucks out brilliant tips.)
It should be dramatic but informative and stick with the reader: Write RIGHT!
(Better, if cliched. Have no idea if this is someone’s real tagline. It’s got humor in the ungrammatical aspect, and yet it makes its point with rhyme and punchiness.)
WRITE LIGHT –a blog about writing short tales or light novels or about lights?
WRITE TIGHT –a coach who helps you end your wordiness issue
WRITE FRIGHT –a horror writer
NIGHT WRITE–play on “nightlight”, which could be about helping peope who have busy schedules figure out how to write evenings or writing about nighttime (stars, sleep,beds, toddies, etc).
Well, enough of that. You can brainstorm to a better form, that’s the point. 😀
There’s an author whose tagline is “Seatbelt Suspense.” That tells you a lot. You are gonna go on a “wild ride” so “buckle up” and get ready for that suspenseful read. “Seatbelt” is the clever, punchy, dramatic adjective that makes “suspense”–a fiction genre–work even better. There’s also alliteration (later on that) and syllabic similarity (two syllables in each of two words). Short, to the point, and memorable. And cool enough to trademark.
So, today I was reading a blog article by a FB pal on tips for writing author taglines. As I read the tips, I realize these work for blurb taglines, too.
I really go wild for a great tagline on a book blurb. Call me odd, but it gives me a thrill.
Sometimes, I have fun making up taglines for stories that aren’t even written, such as when I do some book cover-creation practice. Here’s an example with one of the covers I made for a story in the revision stage (I’ve got it down, but the structure needs work):
As you can see, the tagline reads this way: Love Outlives Life.
What’s it got? Alliteration with “L” sounds. Short. A nice rhythm. And it tells you that (in conjunction with the cover), we’re into a particular genre–speculative fiction–and love is part of the theme. It’s encapsulating the heart of the story. It seeks to tap into an emotion, since all the readers (one hopes) have experienced love.
Love is one of the BIGGIE themes. Biggie keyword.
This is a tagline, btw, that fits a couple of Janeen Ippolito’s categories in her helpful blog post over at Write Inside Out: “6 Tips for a Memorable Author Tagline.” It’s short. It’s got alliteration. (While that post focuses on identifying, really, your author brand, or your blog’s vision/purpose, it can work–as I previously said– for thinking about taglines for your books.)
Book taglines can work not just on covers, but as an opener for a book description. You knew that already if you read this blog regularly.
A tip for one aspect of the writing life can work for another. Keep that in mind.
If I were to write the blurb for “Heir of Bone and Snow” today, I’d put that cover tagline in italics as the hook, then get into the body of the description. Or I could use it as part of the ending. Blah, exciting stuff blah…because love outlives life…
So, Write Inside Out is Janeen’s author tagline and that’s the focus of her blogging and coaching (yes, she can help you with your author tagline for a modest fee). It’s short. It is descriptive (tells you what you’re getting). It’s clever (a play on inside/out). And has the “t” sound repeated at the end of words (write/out). It’s an effective tagline, I think.
What else besides alliteration and brevity? Well, rhyme:
Here the tagline reads as Grace Transcends Space.
This tagline fits three of the categories in Janeen’s tips for the author’s tagline: It’s short; it has a very obvoius rhyme; it has sibilance (alliteration of the S sound). Each word has that “s” sound.
It’s also conveying that this story is likely science fiction and that the tone is kind (not gory, not action-packed, not revengeful, etc.) It’s a “merciful” story. Is the girl’s name Grace? Does she transcend space? It can have a double-meaning, this tagline, yes?
Another one of the tips is to use single words (each its own statement).
Here is one of my mock covers that used that:
Tagline’s upper right on the cover:
It pretty much gives you the set-up/situation of the story (based on The Juniper Tree fairy tale). The use of single words of this type–three DARK words that signal drama, criminal activity, evil doings, and then, boom, the supernatural element). These are key words that tell the reader what’s in there in a manner that’s usually associated with suspense/thriller with a paranormal element–even horror.
It also happens to use an ellipsis. And the one element of genres where the ellipsis works VERY well is suspense. Suspenseful genres.
I mentioned this in an earlier post. Here’s the relevant article and the key quote: “Ellipses effectively boosted CTRs in genres where suspense is key: Horror, Crime Fiction, and Romantic Suspense.”
Use whatever trick you’ve got to hook ’em. 😀
The tagline above WORKED on my “beta audience”, as I got responses with “I’d buy thats” and “I want to read thats.” That’s precisely what you want a tagline to do. Hook. Whet the appetite. Snag the relevant audience with relevant keywords/tropes.
Janeen cautions on using cleverness in an author tagline, if the cleverness is hampering the tagline from being effective. The cleverness should enhance, not just sit there.
Puns and plays on words, however, can be very effective in book blurbs, especially if you write humorous or witty works. Think of subgenres such as Chick Lit or parody or satire. Here’s a tagline from a movie poster:
A new job? Hopefully. A new man? Possibly. A new handbag? Absolutely!
It uses parallel structure in the questions and parallel structure in the one-word answers (that all end in -ly, so it adds the rhyming element). Q and A format. It tells you it’s humor.
It also tells you clearly, the audience, that there’s office stuff, romance stuff, and fashionista stuff. This tagline works its genre.
Did you recognize it?
It’s the tagline for CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC. The tagline fits the Chick Lit genre perfectly.
Here’s another of my mock-covers that got great “beta audience” feedback for the tagline:
The tagline reads this way:
She needs Mr. Right
To Be Mr. Good!
This is clearly a Chick Lit type story. The title is a play on words (Quest for the Holy Grail) and the tagline is a play on words, too. This signals the story will have humor (tagline reinforcing title displaying tone of the story) and will be about the search of the main character for a guy who doesn’t just have the right chemistry or general qualities of a Mr. Right, but she wants a man who is spiritual/good/holy. That tags it as both Christian or Inspirational Fiction and Chick Lit (as Chick Lit has often been about finding the Mr. Right in a sea of Mrs. Wrong.)
Notice how in all these taglines I created (some for stories not even written), the tagline fits the tone and genre of each work–
A humorous work: play on words.
A crime-supernatural: tense single words using dark keywords.
A gentle, redemptive sci-fi: gentle sounds with rhyme and words that speak of hope.
A paranormal on the theme of familial love: gentle sounds with soft alliteration and positive words.
As you work on your cover blurb, think of how you can improve your book description blurb and your author tagline with the same sorts of tips/tricks/ideas you use for that cover blurb. It’s pretty much the same skill for all three, isn’t it?
The tagline for this blog is “Making a Little Count for a Lot.” A blurb is a “little” bit of writing that counts for “a lot”–meaning the much longer story it speaks about, meaning the snagging the reader’s interest, meaning metadata, meaning promo tool. It does a lot of work, even if it’s just 100 or 250 words.
Now, I guess I need to work on my author tagline. The one I have–Facing the Dark, Reflecting the Light-– is just tooooo long, maybe. Not punchy enough, maybe. It does fit what I write and my worldview/philosophy.
What’s your author tagline? What’s your latest book cover tagline? What’s your blurb’s tagline? Are you totally happy with it/them?
I’d like to know.