Always Learning. Always Writing.
RSS icon Home icon
  • How to Create Great Author Taglines

    Posted on May 16th, 2012 jean 49 comments

    I’ve been thinking about taglines lately and that maybe I need an author tagline to help strengthen my brand(s). By the way, taglines are those short, snazzy sentences you see on some author’s websites that encompasses their brand. It’s the feel of their stories. It’s an instant, “Oh, I get it” for the visitor and reader. You read a good tagline and you immediately know what the author is about, what they write, the feeling you are going to get from their books and basically, exactly what you are in for.

    (You may hear of taglines being called loglines. Loglines usually apply to your story, or your movie/TV script and not your website or brand. But some folks use the terms interchangeably. Personally, I think there is a difference, but we won’t get into that today.)

    Three Good Author Taglines

    Cynthia Herron: Heartfelt, Homespun fiction

    Heather Thurmeier: Heart, Humor, and a Happliy Ever After

    Pat Ballard (Queen of Rubenesque Romances): Romance novels with big, beautiful heroines

    Those three taglines give you an immediate feel for what they write, don’t they? That’s what you want. Short. Concise. Evoking good things.

    Why Do You Need an Author Tagline?

    Author taglines (or even writer taglines–you don’t need to be published to use one!) help readers, editors, publicists (hopefully!), and stumblers immediately recognize what you and your brand and your site is about. It should be memorable, short, and encompass what you are and what you write about, and in doing so, let folks know what you are not.

    Right now my blog tagline is “Always learning. Always writing.” That about sums up my blog and website at the moment. When you come here, you probably figure you are going to read about what I am learning in terms of writing. However, when I publish my fiction, that tagline will need to change–at least for my website where my readers land. My current tagline may still fit for my blog. (It’s okay to have two taglines.)

    A good tagline, when you are a published author can be whipped out all over the place. It can go on your business card or promotional bookmarks, your email signature or a sign out front of your house, your website/blog or your social media profiles. Everywhere! You hand out something to potential readers that contains your tagline all front and center, and immediately they know what your stories are about and if it is their “thing.”

    Why use your tagline everywhere? Brand recognition. They may not remember your name (doh!), but they may recall your tagline and what you are about.

    A good author tagline is like a publicist that never stops

    What a Good Author Tagline Can Do For You

    • Good author taglines create immediate feelings in your reader.
    • They make you memorable.
    • They help focus potential readers, site visitors, etc., immediately categorize you (in a good way).
    • They help publicity folks know exactly where you fit in and what they can do for you.
    • They help people setting up talks or book signings know who you are and what they are helping sell. They may be able to figure out whether a black table cloth or doilies are going to be best for you at the book signing table. Yes, a good tagline is that good!
    • Instant recognition.
    • A good tagline can help you retain your focus when it comes to projecting your image, deciding on your publicity, and even writing future books, etc. For example, if your tagline is “dark” something, and you know that is the essence of you, your brand, and your platform. Therefore, you probably aren’t going to go and pursue reviews from conservative religious bookclub mags, right?

    What Do You Encompass?: Brainstorming Your Author Tagline

    If, right now, you are like me, you may be writing and aspiring in several genres as you settle into who you are in the writing world. That’s normal. However, you may be noticing trends in terms of your story settings, the feel of your novels, the types of characters you create, the problems they must overcome, as well as your voice.

    For example, you may write kids books, mysteries, and commercial fiction. But in all of your stories you are a bit dark and all have a spiritual feel to them. Voila. You write dark spirituals. (Er… okay… dark spirituals. Work with me here!)

    For me, I have noticed that my stories tend to be light due to humour and tend to be set in small towns. So my future writing tagline may end up being something like “small town fiction with a dollop of humour.” (Ugh. Maybe not. Going to have to work on that tagline! But I think you get what I am saying here.)

    Create Your Own Tagline: A Primer

    But how do you really get to the meat of what your tagline should be and what you encompass (or want to encompass)?

    First, do a little brainstorming. Basically, all those adjectives you don’t get to use in your writing, you’re going to write down… now!

    1. How you want your readers to feel. (Ex. inspired, scared, hopeful, etc.)

    2. Common themes in your stories or types of stories. (Ex. coming of age, romance, good overcomes evil, believe in yourself.)

    3. What image you want to convey. (Professional? Goth? Religious?)

    4. Who is your audience? (This will help you direct you towards what will appeal to them and help you figure out how to aim straight at them.)

    5. What makes you, you? (How do you differ or standout? Humour? Sassy?)

    Now that you have a list of things you would you like to evoke, circle the top 5-7 that really speak to you or that you connect with. Are there synonyms that might evoke a stronger image?

    Almost There! Putting it Together to Make a Stellar Tagline

    Take your 5-7 words and play around with them. Do you have a few taglines popping out at you already? Write them down. All of them. Don’t go with the first one you like because you may (believe it or not) decide it isn’t the one after all.

    Have a few? Ask others what they think. Which ones do they think fit you best? Listen to their suggestions. Sleep on it.

    Hone it down until it is short and concise.

    A Tagline is Not Forever

    A few years down the road you may look at your tagline and realize you have evolved and your tagline isn’t quite right any longer. Don’t be afraid to modify it!

    As well, you may notice that bestselling authors are using their taglines less and less on their websites. Why is that? Because their name has become their brand and their tagline. Their readership knows what they stand for and what they are going to get from reading their stories. However, they still use taglines in their promotional material for reaching out to new audiences as well as keeping their eye focused on the ball.

    Don’t forget–you can put your tagline everywhere! Use it! It’ll be one of your best tools. You can even use it when folks ask what you write. If it’s good, it’ll intrigue them and open the conversation.

    This might be one of the hardest things you do (right up there with query writing) but it will be well worth it!

    You can do it!

    How about you? Have you seen some good ones out there?

    Do you have a tagline? (Share it!) If so, could you hone it in even more?


    43 responses to “How to Create Great Author Taglines” RSS icon

    • Great post, Jean. I sometimes find these short bits of writing so much harder than the longer bits!!

      Right now my tagline is okay – Life is short, go for the HEA.

      People would have to know what HEA stands for of course, but I’d assume most romance writers do. Maybe??? 🙂

      I’ll have to think of polishing it up. thanks for the tips!

    • Author tag lines are tough. I went through several before I found one I liked. I think mine fits my writing well now. ‘Defy the Dark.’

    • Hi Ciara. I agree taglines are tough! I like the intrigue in your tagline as it makes me curious how you defy the dark and what the dark is. It gives me hope too. (Is that odd?) I think the toughest part of taglines is that they can say something completely unexpected to someone else!

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jemi, I hear you! Sometimes it’s easier to bang out a 70K first draft than hone what it all means down into one puny little sentence.

      I think most romance writers (and readers??) know what HEA stands for. You could always use it as a full term as your tagline would still be of a respectable length, I think. And I do love the feel you get from your tagline. It shows where the value is in your writing. 🙂

    • I have “Writing with a purpose” printed on my business cards. I don’t know if that is a tagline…but I hope each of my stories share a story with meaning and depth.

    • Sharon, I think “Writing with a purpose” is a form of tagline, yes. I think you could get more specific if you wanted to. Currently, it is a bit general, but that could be what you want and need. If you wanted to get more specific, possibly you could add a word or two to your tagline that would really hone in on who you write for and maybe even your genre (what kind of a purpose it is you are writing for).

      I’ve been thinking about business cards lately… do you find you use yours a lot?

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • This is part of a lovely list of great links for writers over at Yesenia’s blog. Be sure to check it out! (Thanks, Yesenia!)

    • Thanks for the tip. I could be Jason Matthews, Indie Author guide or maybe seriously fun novels, but both of those sound too strange?

    • Hi Jason. You are aiming at two different audiences with those two taglines. Maybe you need two sites with two different taglines for your audiences? Or mesh the two? Hmmm. Either way, they don’t sound too strange to me.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi Jean, love this post!
      I don’t have an author tagline yet, egads! Both of my books are dark-ish. Off the top of my head, I’d say I write about things that go bump in the woods.
      I’ll have to figure out a clever way to put it without the “I write” part.
      I’m learning everyday and didn’t even know I was lacking something essential.
      Thanks for giving me something to think about!

    • Thanks, Christine.

      It sounds like you do have a tagline: “Things that go bump in the woods.” That gives me a clear picture of what to expect along with accompanying chills. 😉 By the way, things like your blog can have a different tagline if it isn’t about things that go bump in the woods.


    • Hi Jean! I just discovered your article and saw my name and tagline! Thanks so much for including me in your fantastic article. It was a wonderful surprise!!

    • Hey, no problem Heather! I liked your tagline. 🙂

    • Heya Jean

      Hope u doing great? The tips u have mentioned is amazing and would like to know how about this tag line ” Why you, When You were never ever”

    • Thanks Ishu!

      I’m doing fine, thanks.

      I like where your tagline is going although I think you could maybe add to it. When I read it my reaction is “Never ever what?” Maybe that is your point? You definitely have the intrigue factor!

    • Thank you for your prompt response. Well, that’s the one I have selected for my upcoming book. And have made the blog stating the tag line “Ocean of Emotions” How exactly that sounds to be?
      Would like to ask you to have a glimpse over it:

      Awaiting for your response


    • I think an open-ended kind of tagline can be fine for a book as you want to create that intrigue–and get them to read the back cover blurb which will then hopefully convert them into a buyer. 🙂

      I think Ocean of Emotions is very poetic–and fitting for your blog which includes your poetry.


    • Love your informative posts. I’m excited to follow you and learn more. After all, you are one of the best freelance editors around.

    • Thanks, Mitzi. Hope the posts help you out on your road to publication. 🙂

    • Thank you so much… Have a wonderful time…

    • Hi I wonder about this tagline: Grit and Crime between the Covers.

    • Lol, Lu. It makes me think the bedding needs to be washed! (I misread ‘crime’ as ‘grime.’) Seriously though it gives me a good idea of what your books must be about. I imagine dark and seedy underground with a little action between the sheets. Is that what you are going for?

    • Thank you, Jean, for this thoughtful and insightful post! As to your own tagline cannundrum, I vote for something like “small town values, big time humour” or “small towns, big fun” instead of “small town fiction with a dollop of humour”. As to my own tagline I’m thinking of “Shifting perspectives one tale at a time.” What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Alycia.

      I ended up going with the tagline: Read, Dream, Laugh and Love. 🙂 It’s on (no /blog).

      If your books’ themes are about shifting the perspectives of the reader, then you have a great tagline. 🙂

    • Thank you for the great article, Jean. I found also the comments with the different examples of taglines very helpful.
      To show the taglines work as you say: I liked “defy the dark” from Ciara and Alycia’s suggestions so much, I looked up their websites. 🙂
      I still have to come up with my own tagline — something with old magic, elves, modern women … When I wrote HEDGE GAMES my private tagline was “LOTR meets the Matrix” 😉 but I’m too shy to use that officially. 😀

    • Looks like I came across this post a while after it was written and it has been so helpful.Thanks for these step by step instructions.

    • That’s an awesome tagline. It’s intriguing and makes us want to know more. Use it!!

    • Hi. Well on the way with my début RomCom novel about characterful pensioners in a Retirement Village. Aiming for a trilogy eventually. How about,’Tongue-in-cheek romcoms about characterful pensioners’?

    • Hey Peter. Your tag line should be something you can use beyond your one series. Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ works for their shoes, shirts, everything. It’s their attitude. What the consumer can expect. So are all of your future novels going to be about pensioners? If not maybe cut that part off of your tag line.

    • Thanks. I’m glad the rest of the tag was okay. As it happens the plan is a trilogy about the people in the retirement village. I plan at the moment to focus on pensioners/seniors. They are under-represented and it’s a niche market. A risky move maybe but potentially rewarding.


    • Very true!

    • Thank you for this valuable information. My first book is about the messages to the churches in Revelation. Each message ends with the warning: “He that has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. My tag line is: “Writing to stimulate ears to hear”. At first I thought that was too focused on that one book but I realize everything I have written and will likely write in the future is aimed at waking the church to become the Bride of Christ in these last days.

    • That’s great that it works as an umbrella tagline. Nice!

    • I’ve been working on a tagline for a new site’s home page. Right now I’ve got my name followed by “Author of Adventurous Stories and Imaginative Ideas.” I’m wondering if I should keep that or keeping brainstorming.

    • Hi. Thanks for commenting.

      I think the adventurous part is good because it tells us what sort of things to expect from you as an author. That said, I should hope you have imaginative ideas, right? 😉 So, I think the ‘imaginative ideas’ part could likely go as that should be assumed and makes it seem as though you’re trying too hard. Possibly you could add a qualifier for your ‘adventurous’ stories. You know… something to describe them more. Like adventurous stories with a hint of mystery or adventurous romance or… you know what I mean? Show the imaginative part there and hone your niche for the reader.

    • Would this sound too depressing? I write about people surviving and growing through life. An idea for a tagline is — Fiction in a Dry and Weary Land or Fiction for the Dry and Weary Land.

    • Hmm. Hard to say. It definitely tells us something and conveys emotion. My question is: will all of your future books be set in a dry land?

    • Anita Kragelund

      Thank you for sharing your great, concise tips on creating a tag line! It’s been very helpful.
      I have been working a bit on my own, and my trouble is that I write both novels and articles, so my challenge is creating a tag line that covers both categories. What they have in common are the typical themes, which revolve around liberation (from sin and similar) and peace, so I am considering something along the lines of: Liberating peace, served on a page.
      Does that sound too general, or too something else?
      Anita Kragelund

    • Anita, it is a bit general as we don’t get a feel for whether it is fiction, nonfiction, etc. (Which is something you’ve identified already.) It’s fantastic that you’ve isolated your theme that runs through all your works. (That’s the hard part!) I’d say this tagline is good as a reminder of your brand–who you are. Maybe it would be possible to write two taglines–one for each “you.” The nonfiction and the fiction side. This way you can dive a little deeper and get more specific. You want something where a reader sees your tagline and identifies with it and goes “That’s me! I like to read those sorts of things.”

      Hope that helped!

    • Fredrick Muthamia

      your write up on tagline has been very helpful. I am writing Christian inspirational books and its basically on matters of faith(the faith) of biblical characters.
      could this serve as a tagline; Fredrick Muthamia ‘faith gems’

    • Frederick, are your books short stories? Gems makes me think of shorter pieces. Little gems. I think having faith in your tagline is a great thing–it instantly expresses what you have to offer your audience.

    • Quinton Everest

      I published a book, “Israel The Chosen: Her Identity, Land, Enemies, Religion and Messiah.” I’ve also just completed a study guide for it and intend to come up with a website and blog in which the theme of Israel’s role in history will predominate. Right now, my choice for a tagline is this: “Israel–Hastening Toward the Future.”
      I’d value your opinion.

    • Hi Jean: Thanks for some great ideas on creating a tagline. I’m thinking of using “Strengthening My Inner Self.” I believe that gives me a broad enough tagline to write on many areas that will help me (and hopefully others) to strengthen their inner selves. Thoughts?

    6 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

    Leave a reply