Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Taglines and Loglines

My Kindle advertises to me, temptingly placing book covers on my standby screen.  After a while I noticed that they all had something in common:  a tagline or logline right on the cover.  Then I noticed something else.  When I looked up the books on Amazon, most of them didn’t actually have these pithy teasers on the cover.  It was something Amazon added, to help sell books.  Which tells me that a tagline may accomplish what a book cover alone can’t.

Since my greatest talent does not lie in writing taglines…or loglines…or synopses…or pitches…I started writing them down, to see if I could learn anything.  I thought my fellow writers might find the examples interesting.

Can a troubled young man and a desperate mother save each other?
Through the Fog by Michael C. Grumley
(asks a rhetorical question, uses classic adjective-noun descriptions of characters)

After she loses everyone that she loves, Mikayla struggles to find a new forever
More than This by Jay McLean
(names a character, hints at backstory, genre, conflict)

A gripping tale of seduction and survival in the court of King Henry VIII
A Love Most Dangerous by Martin Lake
(establishes setting and main premise, uses no verbs, praises itself)

In postapocalyptic Boston, supernatural factions battle for human souls
Marked by Sarah Fine
(plays on the popularity of a trendy genre, gives setting, hints at what’s at stake)

You may know their faces—but you don’t know their dangerous, deadly secrets
Ourselves by S.G. Redling
(second person, fairly generic—may apply to about 40% of novels—but still intriguing)

Her secret admirer:  a world traveler with a sense of humor—and a job to kill for
Ice Man Cometh by C.T. Wente
(specific, clever description of one character, a hint of intrigue)

A murdered angel, an elusive hero—just another day for Gideon and Sirius
(humor, quick character descriptions, hints of genre, no verbs)

Glassblowing was a man’s art—until three enchanting sisters elevated the craft with a woman’s touch
The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning
(past tense, unusual topic)

When hard evidence points to you, how do you clear your name?
(second person rhetorical question with high stakes)

He must choose between love and loyalty, paying with either his heart…or his life.
(The hard choice.  Generic but intriguing)

A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count
Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
(clever wordplay, hints of sci-fi, hints of urgency)

A medieval killer and his current-day copycat terrorize the walled city of Zons
Fatal Puzzle by Catherine Shepherd
(intriguing premise, setting)


Benjamin thought he couldn’t feel anymore…until Charlie came along

Beneath a picturesque New Orleans mansion lurks a deadly force
The Vines by Christopher Rice

In search of a missing boy, a DEA agent ends up on the run.

One man fights to regain his family’s land—and win the woman he loves
Deepest Roots of the Heart by Chautona Havig

How well do you really know those closest to you? 
Never Smile at Strangers by Jennifer Jaynes

Years after her sister’s murder, Detective Crosswhite fights to find the truth.
My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

All the rules I’ve read about writing taglines and loglines are both exemplified and contradicted here—which seems to be the case with rules about writing queries and blurbs too.  But the main advice still holds true:  make your readers want to read the book.

And perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned from this came from the examples I jotted down without noting the book title, and then later couldn’t find.  Once you have a tagline you like, make sure people can find it online.  Use it everywhere you can:  your website, blog, Facebook, guest posts, Amazon/Goodreads/B&N descriptions…whatever and whenever you can.  Then, prospective readers who may not remember your name or title but who remember part of your hopefully memorable tagline can Google it to find your book.  Make your tagline work for you.

Melinda Brasher writes short stories, travel articles, and YA novels.  She loves the crunch of snow and the smell of old books.  She's currently living in the Czech Republic teaching English.  To see a little of this beautiful country, visit her online:  http://www.melindabrasher.com/


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Melinda, this is absolutely brilliant.
As it happens, I am writing a new book on making book covers sell and I plan to quote you in it--credited, of course! If I do anything extensive, I'll check with you for permission. BTW, did you know that quotations in books can be made without permission but that Amazon--to be on the safe side--limits review quotations to twenty-five words?
And, while we're on the subject, did you know that my The Frugal Book Promoter covers lots on all these things--pitches, loglines, blurbs, etc. (-: However, your examination is a winner that a general book on great promotion couldn't possibly delve into to this extent! Hooray for you!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second editions of the Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo and The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind )The latter is e-book only.for the time being.

Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, great post. Taglines and loglines are key elements to promoting a book. My favorite of the examples above is "A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count."

This shows how powerful a logline can be. I want to read this book based on it.

What a great book marketing strategy Kindle has going.

Shirley Corder said...

I loved this post, Melinda. Please tell me--where did you see these taglines? Or were they only on your Kindle? (My Kindle shows images of authors.) I'd love to read some more of them. Thank you for an interesting post.

Melinda Brasher said...

Shirley, they were all on the book covers on my Kindle. And I found it so interesting that the same lines weren't on the actual book covers on Amazon. Maybe they should be. Many of them are quite tempting.

Shirley Corder said...

How frustrating! I'd love to find out where else they put them. I'm sure they must use them other places as well. If anyone knows, please post it! There are some excellent ones, you're right Melinda!

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirl, you can (should) include your tagline in your emails also.

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