Tuesday, May 18, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Taglines & the Query Letter

Taglines are the one or two lines that are often on the front of a book cover. They are another way for publishers to draw the interest of a reader to your book. For example, the tagline on the cover of MY UNFAIR LADY is “Who says a proper lady can’t carry a knife?” And from my TBR pile: “A novel of vampires, werewolves and dirigibles” from the cover of CHANGELESS by Gail Carriger. “Her next jump may be her last.” from the cover of GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre. “Four lives. Two great loves. Every expectation SHATTERED.” from SHATTERED by Joan Johnston.

Why should this interest an aspiring author? Because this may be a great way to hook an agent or editor to your book in your query letter. Sometimes you only have seconds for your query to catch interest, and a great opening line can do that. It’s always helpful to present your novel from a marketing perspective.

Recently my editor asked me to send her some taglines for THE LADY OF THE STORM, and this is what I managed to come up with:

She has hidden her magic for years, but when a warrior awakens her desires, will it ignite her power for the storm?

A lady with hidden powers. A warrior with an enchanted sword. A destiny and passion neither one of them can deny.

When a warrior's desire ignites the powers of THE LADY OF THE STORM, will their magical world survive the tempest?

When a warrior's desire ignites the powers of the lady of the storm, will they manage to survive the tempest?

The power of the storm blazes within her eyes. His passion for revenge lies within an enchanted sword. When love ignites, will it aid or hinder their quest to save England?

She's hidden her powers--but will discover the magic of the storm in the passionate arms of one darkly delicious man.

She's hidden her magic--but will discover the passion of the storm in the arms of one darkly delicious man.

She's hidden her powers…and only true love will ignite the magic of the storm.

She'll discover her magic in the arms of a cursed lover.

Hidden magic. Hidden desires. A quest that may save their world.

Hidden magic. Hidden desires. A love that may save their world.

Now, for taglines some of these may be too long and will have to be shortened. But can you see how a tagline can be taken from that all-important first line hook of your query letter? Or used as the first line all by itself? You can study the taglines from your favorite books to help you craft your own, and expand on them (if necessary) to use for the opening line of your query letter. One day soon, you may very well be using it in an advertisement for your own novel…or seeing it on the cover of your book.


  1. As a language arts teacher, as well as a writer, I just want to say: Great mini-lesson! Is was short, sweet, and VERY informative. Loaded with examples so we can clearly see and understand what a tagline is. Thank you so very much!

  2. Glad to know that you found it helpful, Deenar116! Thanks so much for leaving a comment to let me know. :}

  3. I read this and thought, "Wow, how easy." Then I tried to do it for my current WIP. Not easy, at all! Lots of practice needed for me.

  4. Try going to your local bookstore, Judy, and read the taglines on several books. Or pick up an issue of Romantic Times BOOKReviews Magazine, and read the advertisements for taglines. We, as authors, try so hard to summarize our entire book, instead of just picking out the one or two elements that make our book unique, that I think we get lost when trying to do something like this. But practice will, indeed, make this easier for you. :} Best Wishes!

  5. Kathryne, Thank you for this post. I'm doing an agent pitch at an upcoming writers' conference. They suggested having a tagline. I was having a hard time with it, until now. Your blog has cleared it up for me. I hope you don't mind if I add a link to your blog on mine.

  6. So glad you found it helpful, Tina! Absolutely, feel free to link to this post. Best wishes with your pitch!