Ever try to bite into a burger so large it threatened to dislocate your jaw? Chances are, you cut that sandwich down to size. Although delicious, it was just too hard to eat. In the same way, agents and editors — not to mention readers — need to bite into your story in small, easily digested portions. Grab them with a tantalizing tagline.
Crafting a Book Tagline
- Brief – Don’t go longer than a sentence.
- Memorable – Make it catchy.
- Intriguing – Pique your reader’s interest.
- True to your story – Don’t promise what you don’t deliver.
- Story Problem: A grieving widow longs to find happiness again (desire). When a suitor presses her with his attentions (problem), she must let go of the past (cost or risk) in order to realize her goal (solution).
- Theme: Is it possible to find happiness by letting go of the past?
- Pitch Sentence: A young widow wants to take a chance on a new suitor but what will it cost her to let go of the past?
- Tagline: Holding on sometimes means letting go.
- Story Problem: A teenage boy whose father was murdered wants to make sense out of his father’s death (desire). When he discovers the identity of his father’s killer (problem), he must set aside his desire to seek revenge (cost or risk) in order to forgive (solution).
- Theme: Does revenge make sense of murder?
- Pitch Sentence: A teenage boy whose father was murdered faces a life-and-death decision when he discovers the identity of his father’s killer.
- Tagline: Does murder justify murder?
- Story Problem: A young girl who wants to fit in (desire) encounters a bully in a new school (problem). When she faces her fear and confronts the bully (cost or risk), she discovers the bully’s cowardice and gains the respect of her classmates (solution).
- Theme: Will facing our fears diminish them?
- Pitch Sentence: When a bashful young girl enters a new school, she doesn’t count on having to face down a bully.
- Tagline: Facing a bully wasn’t part of her curriculum.
Create a winning tagline for your novel. Don’t overthink this. Start with something and then make adjustments.