What’s in a Tagline?

With 1 million books are published each year, how do readers find books by new authors like me? Discoverability. They can’t find what they can’t see. Word of mouth is always the best form of advertising. And may God bless my enthusiastic readers for reviewing my first two books on Amazon and Goodreads and all the social media platforms I don’t use or understand. These loyal readers have helped me get regular royalty checks from retailers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan. But still, with one million other books coming out each year and over 13 million already available, how do I help readers find my books? Marketing experts suggest a tagline can help.

I would rather get dental work than figure out the mysterious world of marketing. Advertising gets expensive quickly and I don’t know how to measure whether or not the ad worked. I’ve done Goodreads Giveaways, and Facebook ads. I’ve searched for popular reviewers/bloggers who like suspense stories. All the time spent clawing my way up the steep learning curve of marketing takes away from time spent writing. Hence, book three is a year late–so far–in the publishing cycle. Yes, yes. I should have written the whole series before publishing the first book. One hard ard lesson learned. Hindsight 20/20.

David Ivester

Then, David Ivester spoke at the Florida Writers Conference in Altamonte Springs. Okay, I didn’t stalk him, but I did attend his workshops and asked him lots of questions afterward. I confessed my hard-learned lessons and failures at marketing and he didn’t laugh. He cringed. We set up an appointment to review my website and to suggest steps for book three. I now have a publicist to guide me through the landmines of marketing. Please, keep this man in your prayers as he explains marketing to me in small, simple words.

A TAGLINE?

While rewriting the last half of book three, I put his advice to work. David advised me to develop a tagline for my Compass Crimes Series. A tagline should evoke an emotional response, indicate the genre and tone of the book, create reader curiosity, and stick in the reader’s mind. North of the Killing Hand is a 107,000-word novel. South of Justice is a 96,000-word novel. The Compass Crimes Series features a crime, a strong woman protagonist, and characters who are prominent in one book appear in minor roles in the other books. The West book is in development and the East book is a bare outline. In all, the series will have 390,000 to 400,000 words.

“Distill the tagline down to 10 words,” David says. Ten. Words. I’d rather get a root canal, thanks.

I studied movie taglines that work at The 40 Best Movie Taglines. Examples:

Quiz Show
“Fifty million people watching but no one saw a thing.”

Cool Runnings
“One dream. Four Jamaicans. Twenty below zero.”

SUGGESTIONS WELCOME

So far, attempts at crafting a tagline are as follows. Which do you prefer?

  • Some heroes wear high heels. [too chic lit?]
  • A crime. A quiet hero. Help or get out of her way.
  • A deadly crime. A quiet hero.
  • A woman on a mission is a dangerous thing.
  • One woman’s quest to right a wrong.
  • From tragedy, quiet heroes arise.
  • A quiet hero navigates the aftermath of a crime.
  • A quiet hero navigating the aftermath of a crime
  • She’s a quiet hero navigating the aftermath of a crime.

For more information on taglines, see this brilliant post: What Makes a Good Tagline?

I am lurching back to my writing cave now.