Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Branding #4...taglines

Today I'd like to talk about taglines. A tagline is used to provide a very quick, snappy summation of your books or series. The secret to a tagline is making it short and sweet. The shorter the better. Personally I think a tagline should never exceed 10 words and my preferred number is 4 words.

I know what you're thinking...that's not enough space to do anything. Well it is if you think about things properly. Let's look at a tagline that I recently came up with for my husband's Riyria Revelation Series. To understand the tagline let's tell you a bit about the series. Here is some marketing copy for the first book that I wrote:

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.

There's no ancient evil to defeat, no destined orphan, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time...Royce Melborn, a cynical thief, and ex-mercenary Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Caught, imprisoned, and sentenced to death they have only one way out. And so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

Okay so now I need to try and describe the books so I'll describe it with the following keywords:
  • Genre: classic medieval fantasy
  • Main character(s): cynical thief & mercenary
  • Theme: Heroes rise to the occasion
  • Writing style: Light, fast-paced, fun
The tag line I eventually came up was:

Unlikely Heroes...Classic Adventure

These 4 little words actually sum up the series quite nicely. Let me go though the thought process.
  • Notice that I didn't use fantasy (even though this is the genre) the reason is because fantasy has many connotations (fantasy football, phone sex, erotica) so instead I used the words "Heroes" and "Adventure" which both conjure the concept of medieval fantasy

  • I wanted to point out that the book has more than one character and that character wasn't what you usually find (kings, knights, wizards, orphans) hence "unlikely heroes".

  • I wanted to position the book as "a classic" because many reviews have noted that this book reminds them of the fantasy of their youth that made them fall in love with the genre in the first place.
So how should you go about this...
  • First, start listing words that describe your book - each one can't be more than 2 words.
  • Try to determine a word or words that actually cover multiple ideas at once for instance "hero" has the notion of "good" "virtuous" "chivalrous" "winning" "strong"
  • Don't try to make a sentence...try to have two ideas and play one against another.
One you have a tagline where do you use it?
  • Any advertisement: web banner, print, goodreads, facebook, google
  • Any swag material (bookmarks, key rings, pens, coffee mugs, tshirts)
  • Emails to potential reviewers
  • Book descriptions on forums
  • Book descriptions when publishing your books
The best taglines sometimes take a long time to come up with. I suggest you make a few and then just let some time pass while you "noodle" each one - and one will usually bubble to the top.

Feel free to share your taglines here as you develop them for your own books.


Anne Gallagher said...

Book one -- Blundering Aristocrat Wants Wife.

Book Two -- Downtrodden Governess Finds Love.

Hmmm. I think I'm going to have to work on those. I'm used to working with loglines, at least those were sentences. This is a lot harder. But a great excercise.

Eric said...

Another tool to help you pick what words to use is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

This will tell you what is the most "search for words" that people type into Google. While this is designed for advertisers it can also helps authors to see what is popular.

It will also give suggestions that might help.

Eric said...

Sorry the link didn't work. Just type into Google: "Google AdWords Keyword Tool." and it will take you to the page.

D.B. Smyth said...

Excellent advice. Thank you!

Susan Russo Anderson said...

Thanks so much for giving us a quick workable process for creating memorable taglines. Susan

Splitter's Blog said...

Every time I read this blog I realize how inadequate I am lol. This was a great post and reminded me of yet another thing I need to work on. Powerful tip. Thank you!


Lois D. Brown said...

Less is always harder.

Ruth Madison said...

I love the "they chose poorly" tagline. I have his books books on my to-read list because of that alone. And I don't even read fantasy or adventure!

Anonymous said...

I'm currently using the tagline "Dragons, Demons, & Zombie Ex-Girlfriends" for my book the Horde because it at least captures the relationship focus and the demon focus. It leaves out too much but it's hard to fit a novel in four words.

I like the 4 word tagline for the Ririya series because it evokes classic sword & sorcery fantasy- there's even a town called Grey Mouse if I recall from one chapter.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky to find this web site. I think that you are a pro at your occupation! I am going to launch a website soon, and your blog will be very useful for me.. Thanks for the excellent work and wishing you the success in your business.

Seacanoeist Mark said...

Welcome to mmoggg website to buy RS Gold, offer a lot, of course, Diablo 3 Gold or Diablo 3 Gold Kaufen and Cheap RS Gold, to be purchased at any time, at any time shipment, and look forward to your visit!

Donatella Nobatti said...

Welcome to our WBMTT Phone Sex Jobs. We believe in not only providing top quality phone sex to our clients but to also provide a friendly, comfortable, no drama working environment for our phone mates. Now it's possible to get paid as an adult performer without even having to appear on camera.