Julie here, and I'm going to come right out and just admit it—I LOVE taglines. I love reading them and I love writing them and frankly, if I wasn't an author, I'd probably be a copywriter who specializes in taglines.
Just like our two guests today.
I had the pleasure of meeting Katelyn Bolds and Nichole Parks—two smart and sassy Gilead gals—at ACFW, and let me tell you, it was instant friendship. But when these two gals presented me with taglines for my Cowboy Christmas Homecoming novella—whoa, look out!—it was instant love!
You see, when it comes to writing taglines for my books, I am downright persnickety, probably taking years off the life of my poor copywriter at Revell. Even my agent agreed that I am a stickler for good taglines and could probably write them for a living.
Needless to say, when these two gals sent me an incredible selection of taglines, they were so fabulous, I had trouble picking just one. Never have taglines gotten by me so quickly and so easily. So if you need help with taglines or blurbs, listen up, because these two gals are not only pros, they are the heart and soul of their own copywriting company, Marketing 15 Services. Without further ado, I give you Katelyn and Nichole ...
by Katelyn Bolds and Nichole Parks
“Katelyn, want to work on taglines?” It’s my second favorite question to ask. The first being, “Lunch?”
The answer is always yes and yes.
Off we go, reading a book proposal or skimming a final draft of the manuscript. As we do so, we’re not only intaking the story, we’re taking note of the author’s style and tone. Before we even think about summarizing the novel into a back cover blurb, it gets boiled down to one line.
That line is known as The Tagline.
Taglines are power-packed punches, encapsulating the essence and excitement of a book. They jumpstart the back cover copy. Sometimes they’ll appear on the front cover or on ads and especially on online bookseller sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or CBD. And ... if you get it right, they can also become the perfect tweet.
Writing a tagline can be intimidating for an author. After you’ve crafted 70,000+ words of perfection, how do you cut it down to 20?
CREATE A WORD BANK
First steps first. Get out all of the words. Take five minutes to sit with a piece of paper and a focused mind. Scribble down all the keywords you can think of to describe your book, characters, tone, moral of the story, etc. Doodle, listen to music if it helps, or change your setting.
The cover-copy deadline for the Sleigh Bells Ring novella collection (which includes your own Seekerville darling Barbara Scott!) was early June. June! To get in the holiday spirit, Nichole wrote from her tiny, icebox of an apartment and tuned in to her Christmas playlist. Since each novella is titled after a song, she added lyrics to her word bank to create the following list:
sisters, horse farm, thoroughbreds, snow, sleds, sludge, evergreens, reunion, family, boots, mittens, scarves, saddle, sleigh rides, winter wonderland, snowflakes, jingle bells, home for Christmas, love, Christmas miracle, chestnuts roasting, blankets, warm cocoa, presents, Santa Claus, three wise men, lollipops, silent night, hope. . .
It doesn’t have to be sequential or even coherent.
TAKE A BREAK
Next, set your word bank aside and take a moment to focus on the important parts of your manuscript.
Sometimes a word or idea will get stuck in your head.
Ask yourself: How can I incorporate the hook into my tagline? How can I create tension? How can I show the genre of my novel by the tagline?
Every word counts. If you are writing romance, use pronouns instead of names. Try a twist on an idiom such as “the one that got away.” Check out these examples from popular movies:
The twist cliche: Here comes the bribe. . . (The Proposal)
The comparison: He’s the secret. She’s the agent. (Chuck)
The question: What if finding the love of your life meant changing the life that you loved? (Fool’s Rush In)
The statement: Cut loose. (Footloose)
Play around with options until you’ve found what best fits your tone, genre, and hook. If you need more ideas, view the taglines of your favorite movies and TV shows on IMDB.com.
This is the time to be silly. Piece together random phrases. Have fun!
In Jen Turano’s latest novel, Finding Margo, her popstar disappears so well, the map let alone the tabloids can’t pinpoint her location. A duck plays a quirky role in the first several chapters. We got quite attached to it. So it wasn’t surprising that we tried to use it in a tagline.
On the lam with a duck.
Now it may not have made the final cut. But it sure got the ball rolling.
Sometimes it just takes looking at the word in a different light or upside down to find a connection. That was the case for Julie Lessman’s novella in Cowboy Christmas Homecoming. Her hero's name is Cole.
We must have read through that word bank ten different times before we connected Cole to “coal in your stocking.” And ended up with "Grace has been good all year, but she’s still getting Cole for Christmas."
Once you’ve got a list of potential taglines, read them out loud and get your writer-friends’ opinions. Let it sit overnight if you need to think about it more. One always sticks out to us as the winner.
Try it out. So ... what’s the tagline for your WIP?
Leave a comment or question for Katelyn and Nichole and be entered to win a paperback copy of Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, featuring four warm and fuzzy Christmas stories with cowboys to help you saddle up for Christmas.
ABOUT MARKETING 15 SERVICES:
Long story, short. We’re your new best friends. We know that creating your platform can make you want to jump off a platform. And back cover copy just never seems to cover enough of the story. And there’s always that risk that your elevator pitch will freefall. But friends don’t let friends pitch a fit. We got your back.
Nichole Parks (not to be mistaken for Nicholas Sparks) packs a punch as copywriter. Her fingerprints are all over covers of Gilead Publishing’s books. When she’s not cuffed to her inbox, Nichole evades blind dates and loves on her latest dark humor manuscript. Always with a flair for the traumatic… Stalk her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram.
Katelyn S. Bolds balances work as freelance writer, social media guru and coffee addict life coach. She is married to this guy named Sam. At times this DIY life might get a little crazy, but she takes it one day at a time. A little yoga, a lot of organization, and a holistic approach make for a Bold Life. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.