Justine: Taglines for Authors…The 5 Ws and the H About You

author tagline, writer tagline, eight ladies writing, justine covingtonMy tagline has been bothering me lately. Actually, it’s been bothering me for the last year, but I’ve been too lazy (or busy or otherwise occupied with “more important” things) to do anything about it.

But now I need to. It’s starting to rub me wrong like a scratchy tag on a shirt.

In case you’re wondering, a tagline is a brief description of you, the writer, just as a logline is a brief description of your book. Except the tagline is about YOU. It identifies to a perfect stranger what they can expect from your books (think of it as “The five Ws and the H about you”).

My critique partner has a great tagline. She writes paranormals with snark, bite, laughs, and great sex. Her tagline is “Snark. Sex. Romance.” And that really sums up what she writes!

My current tagline is “Writing love affairs in history.” (I was almost too embarrassed to share it with you, but I’ve aired my dirty laundry on this blog enough that I decided to just get over it.) I came up with it when I was still enrolled in the McDaniel program. Our last class was a Marketing class and one of our assignments was to create a tagline for ourselves. I wanted to convey that I wrote historical romance without actually saying “historical romance.” At the time, I thought it was okay (alright…honestly? It was the best I could do).

When I came up with my lame-o tagline all those years ago, I really wasn’t sure what sort of story I was writing, or what sort of characters. Authors who have the benefit of several books behind them can probably identify themes or characteristics of their writing, which are actually good things to use to create a tagline.

For example, you can use common themes (like community or girl power), characters (strong females, alpha males), or settings (small towns or big cities). You can also use similar obstacles (battle against evil) or antagonists (vampires, werewolves), or moods or tones (like snark or passion).

The thing to keep in mind about your tagline is that is describes YOU. It shouldn’t be too specific, but not too general, either. And it should be short…no more than 3-8 words. You want your tagline to identify what makes you different, what a reader can expect from your stories. You don’t necessarily want it to identify a genre. However, in my case, I want it to convey I write historicals, just not which sub-genre (Regency, Revolutionary, Pioneer America, etc.), because I plan to write in all of them.

Since I finished the McDaniel program, I’ve figured out that I want to write historical romances with strong female characters. Women who defy stereotypes, who don’t necessarily want to follow the rules and roles society has created for them. They’re daring. Unconventional. Determined (and if you look at the stories I have planned out, all of my female characters have these traits in some form or fashion).

So I need a tagline to convey that.

I started by writing down a bunch of phrases that encapsulated the feel I was going for. It was more a word association than anything else. Some of the words/phrases I came up with included:

  • Strong women
  • Unconventional women
  • History
  • Finding Love
  • Women redefining history
  • Historic women
  • Defy stereotype
  • Defy tradition
  • Passion
  • Love
  • Throughout time
  • For all time

After that brainstorm, I started mixing and matching to see what I could come up with. Here are some examples:

  • Unconventional women. Passionate love. For all time.
  • Strong women. Passionate romance. For all time.
  • Strong women. Stronger love. For all time.
  • Historical romance that defies tradition.
  • Historical romance that defies history.
  • Women who defy convention. Passion that defies history.

The top two are my first choices (although I’m not completely sold on either one yet). If you have suggestions, I’m open. Drop them in the comments below!

So do you have a tagline? If so, what is it? If not, are you working on one? What are some taglines that have caught your eye?

9 thoughts on “Justine: Taglines for Authors…The 5 Ws and the H About You

  1. Silly question Justine, but where would you use your tag line? Just on your website or is there somewhere else it would be useful?

  2. I blocked some of those marketing assignments :-). But I guess the thing at the top of my website is a tagline: ‘Writing about adventurous women and the men who love them’. Yes, pretty lame. I have a little more description further down the page: ‘Nancy Hunter is the author of books about strong women, enduring friendships, and true love.’

    I’m going to table my own search for a better tagline for now, but I’ll be interested to see what you come up with for yours!

    • I think I blocked those marketing assignments, too! I have no recollection of writing a tagline or even thinking about writing one. Huh. Well, I have no tagline. I’d like to think it’s because I defy description, but really it’s because I haven’t a clue. Both of yours sound great!

  3. I think my epic struggles with website design (update: the struggle continues, LOL) blocked out a lot of the other stuff. I don’t remember sitting down and thinking about a tagline explicitly. But, I did wind up with “The Magical World of Michaeline Duskova” which is the title of my website, and may be the title of my future blog.

    So far, I really don’t fit into a neat pigeonhole. My NaNos have been a contemporary paranormal, a far-future YA(?) bicycle quest on a newly-colonized planet, a contemporary romance set in Tokyo with a woman searching for her purpose and a crossdresser who knows what destiny has in store (no psychic vibes, though — the antagonist is just super-confident), and a historical woman’s journey. “Aimless women trying to make a difference”? No, that’s not right. (Or, lordy, lordy, it’s all TOO right.)

    • I don’t think you will ever fit into a neat pigeon-hole, Michaeline – and I love that about your writing. I don’t know what you’ll write, but I know it will be interesting, and different, never boring or predictable and always well-written. You’re like a box of gourmet chocolates – no standard flavors but you keep taking another and another because they’re all soooo good 😉 .

      How to express that in a tagline or website, I have no idea, but I can tell you I’d buy your books, whatever you write.

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