Author Taglines. Yes? No?

You’ve selected the key words culled your brand profile and created an author brand tagline. Yes? No? Well if you haven’t yet or you’re stuck, read on. Help and inspiration is on the way.

An author tag line is almost always a recommended part of branding. It is your brand positioning taken to a high concept, creative level. You want the line to be memorable, yet flexible enough to allow you to grow as a writer––but not so all encompassing that the line ends up trying to say too much. I see examples of author taglines that are working too hard all over cyberspace.

How can you tell if your tagline is trying too hard? Count the commas. Too many commas in a tagline usually means: 1. Author can’t self edit. 2. Writes in several subgenres. 3. Describes the tone and style of the writer, usually without much tone or style.

A quick piece of advice. Avoid puns. Always. Unless a pun is really, really great, please try to resist. I know this is tough for you clever ones, but you must trust me on this.

How about a few examples of taglines?

A little bit of laughter, a pinch of spice, and a sprinkling of magic dust.

Critique: Generally, this does not sound adult. The tone is younger than YA. Disney-ish. Avoid being too cute, or too friendly or folksy, unless, of course, that is what you write.

How about this tag?  Edgy, elegant, erotic romance.

Critique: The alliteration takes this no more than a half-step away from what I call a blueprint tagline. The author has basically taken words and phrases from her brand profile and strung them together. Note the commas.

“Science Fiction, secret agents, and bad boys gone good.”

Don’t use quote marks. It’s cheesy. And those commas are back again. Does this author write cross-genre or does she write in three different genres? Bad boys gone good, begins to get me interested. A playful line, but it needs something more. An erotic author who writes troubled, darker heroes might edge that up a notch. Now, bad boys gone good, becomes:

Bad boys can be very, very good. In bed. Why not bring the author’s voice into the line? Let me show how very good bad boys can be. Keep playing with ideas and tossing around lines.  See how outrageous you can be––take it way out there and then pull back.

Which leads me to the two sentence tagline. A descriptive sentence, then a second shorter sentence to punctuate the tone or concept of the first line.

And now for an excellent example.

Erotic Romance writer Delilah Devlin’s tagline seems to be the one used and quoted extensively in blog’s all over the internet. Here it is.

Get in bed with Delilah. Everyone else has.

Critique: Note the use of two sentences. One to set up a provocative premise. The second to drive home a clever bit of humor. Implied in the second line is the idea that many readers have read and enjoyed her novels. And no commas!

Now get back to work and create the next great tagline. No pressure! And please remember that you are allowed to refine your tagline as your writing matures or changes. It’s not the end of the world to freshen up or evolve a brand tagline.

COMING NEXT WEEK: You’ve got your brand strategy and your tagline. Now what do you do with them? Website and social networking are the foundation of your brand. A quick pass through those in the weeks ahead and then we’re on to advanced work in advertising and promotion for pubbed and unpubbed authors.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website:


7 responses to “Author Taglines. Yes? No?

  1. Great thoughts, Jillian.

    I thought a long time about my tagline, and when it came to me, it seemed so blooming obvious I wondered why it took me so long to think of it!

    Abigail Sharpe
    Stories of love and laughter and happily ever after.

    • Taglines are one of those tasks that seem simple but can be tricky, even elusive for some writers. Usually when you hit on the right combination of words you just know it.

      And you so cleverly avoided those dreaded commas! 😉

  2. Google alerted me, and when I saw my tagline…

    Thanks for approving. I get comments and chuckles all the time.

  3. My tagline came to me after a comment from my critique group that my YA main character was not acting very heroic. He was trying to get a look down the female main characters blouse (he’s 17). I told myself I wasn’t writing about a “heroe”, I was writing about a real boy and that’s what a real boy would do given the opportunity. Most of all, under this pen name I write YA stories from the male POV geared to attract male readers. My tagline then came naturally – Stories of real boys growing into real men.

  4. I do find myself reading the taglines and wondering what it says about an author. I do like Delilah’s too. And I admit that I have gotten into bed with her books and enjoyed them.

    Its kind of like Twitter. Describe or say something in just a few words.

  5. Thanks for the advice, Jill! I still woefully short on both author brand and tag line. Will take some inspiration from this!

  6. I’ve always thought Delilah Devlin’s is one of the most memorable taglines out there. And too funny.

    Mine is rather bland but I tried to avoid pinning myself into a specific genre. I write gay, straight and bisexual erotic romance in various sub-genres so mine is simply–

    Because everyone deserves a little romance.

    Probably won’t make anyone’s top list of taglines but it does suit my books and my philosophy.

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