Tips for Author Tagline Fabulosity That can Work for Blurb Tagline Grandeur & Some Examples of My Book Cover Mock-Ups with Taglines that Fit The Tips and Work For Blurbs

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.”


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):

HeirofBoneSnow 1563x2500

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:

Merciful Stars

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:

Rose Risen 1563 x 2500

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:

Questfor theHoly Male

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.


Yes, there are professional Blurb writers –blurbists?–and here’s a video with one

I’d been writing blurbs for a while. I didn’t even know that’s what I was doing when I helped author pals years ago to condense their stories. I still help author pals now.

Editors who offer services for blurb writing can charge anywhere from a pittance to hundreds of dollars. It seems to hover around $100 in most places I’ve seen.

Bryan Cohen–author, copywriter– is one whose fee is on the higher end (pretty sure last time I checked it was more than $200.)  But he also has hundreds of author blurbs under his belt–experience!

Here is a a show with him talking about blurbs. The pertinent part starts at around 38:21 in this videocast. Lindsey Buroker (host, author) asks him for his “formula” and he offers his four steps, which I’ll list as follows, and I’ll quote something pertinent for each. Listen to the videocast to get the details of what he’d put in each section, including examples:


  1. Tagline –“short, sweet hook that gets people in the door.”
  2. Synopsis– “bare bones plot,” “raise those stakes,” and “establish an emotional connection between character and the reader”
  3. Selling Paragraph–“why people will like your book”
  4. Call to Action– “command form,” “extra instruction”

I agree with him (and have naturally tended to) stick to the first part of the book in writing blurbs (no more than first half), so you don’t spoil the book–especially if it has a big surprise or twist. And not too many names or locations. It’s easy to get bogged down in details. Stick to the most “relatable character.”

For more information on his way of doing up blurbs,  go have a look at Bryan’s book, How To Write A Sizzling Synopsis.

Hope either the video or the book help any of you struggling with your own blurbs.







THE NIGHT BIRD–book blurb for the #1 Kindle Book at Amazon today (1/13/17)



That’s kind of a cool cover, mostly greyscale, some brown, that pop of yellow. A woman, her hair merging with a flock of birds. There’s a sense of something ominous in the misty/smoky texture and that grey/black predominance.

This is today’s top book in the Kindle store.

Why did I pick this? Because of all the books offered to Prime subscribers as their Kindle First selection for January, this is the one that snagged my purchase. The blurb worked better for me than the others. (Well, personal taste played its part, too.)

Here’s the blurb on the item page at Amazon:

Homicide detective Frost Easton doesn’t like coincidences. When a series of bizarre deaths rock San Francisco—as seemingly random women suffer violent psychotic breaks—Frost looks for a connection that leads him to psychiatrist Francesca Stein. Frankie’s controversial therapy helps people erase their most terrifying memories…and all the victims were her patients.

As Frost and Frankie carry out their own investigations, the case becomes increasingly personal—and dangerous. Long-submerged secrets surface as someone called the Night Bird taunts the pair with cryptic messages pertaining to the deaths. Soon Frankie is forced to confront strange gaps in her own memory, and Frost faces a killer who knows the detective’s worst fears.

As the body count rises and the Night Bird circles ever closer, a dedicated cop and a brilliant doctor race to solve the puzzle before a cunning killer claims another victim.

First, let me point out a grammatical error: It should be “a series of bizarre deaths rocks.” The word “series” here is used as a set, hence, singular. A series rocks, not a series rock.


Blurb Analysis

Two brief paragraphs and a final single-sentence paragraph. That’s short, but not too short.

First paragraph: Hook them.

We start with the who, or rather the whos. Homicide Detective Frost Easton is the protagonist–mentioned first, also. This person needs to solve the criminal problem set forth. We have us a detective story. (Genre) The next named who is the psychiatrist, the deuteragonist, and it’s her patients going berserk and killing. (The What). The audience that will enjoy crime fiction knows right off the professions (detective, psychiatrist) and the crime distinction (female psych patients killing).

I find that setup pretty intriguing. It’s “hooky.”

Second paragraph: the antagonist and escalation

Another who emerges in an apparent antagonist: The Night Bird. That moniker is intriguing and the reader will be wondering why it was chosen, what it means. It’s a mysterious thing, and that’s a plus in detective fiction, because it raises one more question–the other big one raised being why the women are going bonkers and killing. Make them want to find out why and that makes them buy.

In this paragraph, we see clear complications–the escalation of conflict. We want things to get WORSE in this genre, much worse, before it resolves. More victims are dying (urgency to find solution) and the investigators themselves are dealing with their personal issues. Internal and external conflict both heat up.

Closing paragraph: Emphasize the stakes, promise the suspense.

You see a sense of pressure at its highest and that the main players are are going to have a hard race to the culmination (needed in this type of fiction).

This one-sentence paragraph also is giving us some characterization–dedicated, brilliant, cunning.

Button-pushing, key words and phrases emerge early and accrue to nab the interest of the browsing reader who likes detective/crime fiction: homicide, detective, psychiatrist, bizarre deaths, psychotic breaks, controversial therapy, terrifying memories, victims, dangerous, secrets, cryptic messages, strange gaps in memory, worst fears, body count rises, brilliant, puzzle, cunning killer.

Strengths: Most are mentioned above in the key words, but I’ll add that for me the women going berserk and the cryptic messages were very strong “clinchers” in the blurb. I want to know why the patients are losing it violently and I want to read those cryptic messages. Don’t you? Well, to find out, I have to read the story.

There it is: the blurb worked on ME.

Weaknesses: I would have liked some hint at what the detective’s strength or weakness was, not just the “worst fears” phrase. I also would prefer  a sense of what the particular therapy was–medication or regression or behavioral or what.

I like quirky detectives, and while “dedicated” is a good-guy term (hero term), I would have preferred something more colorful, better at showing us the distinctiveness (if any) of this cop.

For example, Monk was obsessive-compulsive, and Sherlock describes himself as a high-functioning sociopath in the MASTERPIECE series version. Those are highly intriguing, specific ways of describing a character. “Dedicated” is bland. Really bland. If you had a choice between a narcoleptic detective or a dypsomaniac detective or a Sufi mystic detective or a mysophobic detective or a gambling detective or a transgender detective or a PTSD detective versus a “dedicated detective,” who would you choose to read?

Same with the psychiatrist: Even though I do find “brilliant” a key term–we like those who are supremely bright and competent in fiction, don’t we?–I would have preferred something more enticing and more uniquely characterizing.

This blurb did a lot right. (Sold me!) But it could have done better.

Tip: Think of vivid, intriguing ways to describe your character. Don’t rely on bland adjectives. Brainstorm those key descriptors.