Can you describe your novel in a couple lines? Itís not easy to sum up a book in such a short space and also encapsulate the flavour of it but thatís what authors have to do when marketing their novels. Itís called a tagline and I had to write one last week for the novel Iím currently working on. I jotted down lots of ideas and possibilities, re-wrote them and tried again, looking for what would help to sell my novel to the agent I was scheduled to meet at the Historical Novel Societyís conference in London last weekend.
Taglines are often used on the covers of books or as the heading for the back cover blurb to entice readers. The idea is to draw in the reader and make them want to read more. I know it works because when Iím browsing in a shop or online I have to pick up a book that has an interesting tagline and find out more. ††
It works and looks effortless, but it isnít easy to write. It has to do a lot in a short space: it needs to provide a sense of what and who the book is about concisely.
It also needs to convey a sense of the setting, mood or tone, and theme of the book as well as defining what genre it is. So the wording has to be chosen carefully to provide not only information but also to create the atmosphere that will appeal to the type of reader who will likely enjoy the book. Add an emotional punch that grabs the reader and it will be a winner.
When I set out to write my tagline I googled information on how to write one, as well as examples to help me concoct my own. Thereís a lot written on the topic but the recurring theme seems to be that a tagline should be clear and simple. Multi-syllable words arenít necessary or desirable. It should be easy to understand so the reader gets the message. Thatís what writers must aim for.
Taglines make me think of water-filled snow globes, the ones that have a tiny scene inside and when you shake them tiny snowflakes fall on the scene. You look into them and see a tiny world inside a glass ball. If a tagline is well written it brings an image of the story to life in the readerís mind and makes them want to step into that world.