Showing posts with label taglines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taglines. Show all posts

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:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When Taglines Don't Work. Part III

Two months ago we looked at what taglines are, and what they're meant to achieve. I also encouraged you to try your hand at creating your own. Last month we looked at some author taglines that work well. This month, I want to round off this theme by looking at a few taglines that don't work, and why.

AT&T had a catchy tagline: Reach Out and Touch Someone. As an inspirational writer who has a lot of contact with people going through cancer treatment, I often encourage people to touch their friends and family if it is appropriate. By touch, I mean to reach out and hold a hand, or give a hug, to show them some love and care. So that seemed a good tagline.

That's before I looked up AT&T and discovered they are a mobile network company. Hmm. Where I understand what they're trying to say (I think) the idea of someone reaching out and touching me from my cell phone kind of gives me the creeps! This doesn't say what it's meant to say.

Electrolux marketed vacuum cleaners in the United Kingdom with the tagline, Nothing sucks like an Electrolux. That is a great recommendation for a vacuum cleaner or course, but it sure sucks as a promotion. Incidentally, although this was regarded by many as a huge blunder, the company claims this was a deliberate effort to gain attention. It worked! So, is this a good tagline or a bad one?

If you know Electrolux is a vacuum cleaner, it's a clever line. But if you don't? I know Electrolux is a well-known brand, but it is just possible there are some people out there in our global village who don't know. And that sucks! This tagline has a double meaning.

Kentucky Fried Chicken's finger-lickin' good is a well-known tagline, but they need to be careful if they translate it into Chinese. It then becomes "We'll Eat Your Fingers Off!" So it works well for its American market, but if it's used globally, and of course KFC is pretty world-wide now, it could cause some concern.

A well-known author uses the term HEA in her tagline. I read a comment by her on a blog recently where she says, "People would have to know what HEA stands for of course, but I’d assume most romance writers do."

Well, as a matter of fact I didn't. But then, I'm not a romance writer. So I Googled the term. I found it could mean:
  • Higher Education Act
  • Higher Education Authority
  • Hypospadias and Epispadias Association
  • Household Economy Assessment
  • High Energy Astrophysics
  • Happily Ever After 
  • and another 40-odd possibilities.
Ahh wait! She assumes most romance writers know what HEA stands for, so I'm guessing it's Happily Ever After. It's not her fault I didn't know that's what she meant, but then surely she wants her tagline to reach out and appeal to more than just romance writers? Maybe not.

Then we have
  • the car company that says We put people in front of cars. Really?
  • the airline that says, We get you there. Umm. That's probably a good thing. But they don't say how! It doesn't enthuse me to use their service. 
  • the spice that says it's Distilled in hell. As a Christian I would be apprehensive of sprinkling this on my food!
I could give many more examples but they're all there on the World Wide Web. You only need to Google "Bad taglines." The Internet has dozens of them.

It's not my intention to belittle the people who came up with these taglines. They're all pretty clever when you know what they mean. But what have we learned from these examples?
  1. Don't rush your decision. We need to consider the different cultures we're writing for, and think of whether readers in another land will understand our meaning.
  2. Be cautious of a clever play on words. The Upper Room, a devotional magazine that is published in over 40 languages, refuses to use any idioms that would not make sense to other cultures. That is a challenge; but then we're writers. We're up to challenges.
  3. Make sure it gives the message you want it to.  No creepy hands coming out of the mobile! Or people standing in front of cars!
  4. Avoid initials or abbreviations unless we are only using our tagline "in house," with a group of people that will know what we're talking about.
Hmm. Suddenly my tagline, The Write to Inspire doesn't seem so clever. It is of course a play on words: The Right to Inspire. Back to the drawing board!

How about you? Do you have any more advice? Points we should beware of when we come up with that startling, all-important, tagline that's going to shoot us up the charts of fame?

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her bookStrength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her sojourn in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley's Write to inspire and encourage website or at, where she has the Write to inspire and encourage those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook

The first two parts of this theme can be read here:

Part I What is Your Tagline?
Part II Some Taglines that Work

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Some Taglines that Work: Part II

Last month we had a look at taglines, what they are, and what they're meant to achieve. I encouraged you to try your hand at creating your own, if you hadn't already done so. This month I thought we'd take a look at some author's taglines that really work well.

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to find 10 effective author taglines! Does this mean the authors haven't bothered to work on one? Or is it that they are not using them?

I suspect more of the latter. I admit that is something I haven't been good at either. I use the tagline as the name of my newsletter, The Write to Inspire and Encourage. But when I looked at my websites I discovered welcomes you to the website where writers and readers receive inspiration and encouragement. And says, Shirley Corder offers inspiration and encouragement to any who are negotiating the Cancer Valley, whether as patients or as people who care. So in both cases, the thought is there, but the tagline is not.  (Note to self: Make use of your hard-sought-for tagline!)
So here are ten author taglines that I think work. Take a look at them and see if you think the author's taglines (in bold) fit the type of writing (in italics).

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist well-known for her trademark "Seatbelt Suspense" books. The majority of her books cover harrowing though Christian crime thrillers. Her tagline says it all: Don't forget to breathe...

Karen Kingsbury, often described as America’s favorite inspirational novelist writes fiction that links her readers to real life crisis situations. Her tagline is: Life-changing Fiction.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson who writes suspenseful mysteries seasoned with romance, humor and faith writes under the tagline: Endless Adventure—Timeless Truth.

Cynthia Herron writes heartfelt, homespun, contemporary Christian romance novels. "A hopeless romantic at heart, Cynthia enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances." (Taken from her website.) Her tagline is Heartfelt, Homespun fiction.

Heather Thurmeier writes "sweet, funny romances that capture your heart!" (Review by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst.) Her tagline is Heart, Humor, and a Happily Ever After.

Pat Ballard (with the nickname of Queen of Rubenesque Romances) writes books for plus-size women. Her comment on her website says, "The message is for all women to love ourselves as we are and stop trying to be something we were never meant to be." Romance novels with big, beautiful heroines.

Ciara Knight writes edgy fiction that always has a ray of hope. Her tagline? Defy the Dark.

Clive Cussler is an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist who writes thriller novels. His tagline sums it up: The Grandmaster of Adventure.

Ali Cross says, I’ve always been a dreamer. When I would tell my family what new adventure I wanted to take on, they’d roll their eyes and say something like, “Oh yeah? Well let us know how that works out for you.” Her tagline? Stories that transcend the ordinary.

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author who has a passion for both God and romance. Her tagline sums it up: Passion With a Purpose.

So what do you think? Are there any that you think stand out from the others? Or are they any you don't think work?

Next month, same time, same place, we'll take a look at some taglines that definitely don't work—and why.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on her sojourn in the cancer valley.

Please visit Shirley's Write to inspire and encourage website or at, where she has the Write to inspire and encourage those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook

P.S. Does the attempted use of my tagline in my bio work? Yes? No? Help!

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