Novel Marketing

Novel Marketing

How to Develop an Author Tagline

November 11, 2020

Throughout your career, you may write many books, but you will only develop one brand.

That’s why it’s so important to get your brand right. One way to express your brand is through your author tagline. 

What is an author tagline? 

How can you use one to help develop your brand?

To find out, I interviewed my former Novel Marketing cohost, James L. Rubart. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that Jim is a Christy Award-winning author and founder of the Rubart Writing Academy.

Thomas Umstattd Jr.: Jim, what have you been up to since we last visited? 

James L. Rubart (Jim): I’m working on a six-book series project with Susan May Warren and her son Daniel called The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone. It’s the story of a time-traveling detective who goes back in time to solve cold crime cases. In February, we’ll release a book every other month, and I’ve just started recording the audio version for the first book.

Thomas: You’re doing a rapid release strategy with your every-other-month schedule. This is less risky because you and Susie are already established authors with built-in fan bases. You’re in the Christie Hall of Fame, and Susie has written over a hundred books. 

The other interesting thing about your project is that you’ve created a new fictional pen name, right?

Jim:  Yes. Susie, David, and I are partnering, so we’ve taken David’s name plus my name, James, and added Susie’s last name, Warren. The pen name will be David James Warren. It’s not a pseudonym. It’s an open secret, so to speak. But we wanted to use a collective pen name to differentiate these books from our other books.

We have a worksheet to go along with this episode:  

What is an author tagline?

Thomas: What is an author tagline, and how do we use one?

Jim: Let’s start with a definition. In general terms, a tagline is a short, pithy catchphrase that encapsulates a brand.

For example:

* “Just Do It.” (Nike)* “Finger Lickin’ Good.” (Kentucky Fried Chicken)* “Can you hear me now?” (Verizon)

When it comes to writers, a tagline is a bit different, and it’s used in a couple of ways.

Taglines for Books

First, we can develop taglines for our specific books. 

For example, for my first novel, Rooms (Affiliate Link), I came up with the tagline, “What if you walked into the rooms of your soul?” 

Often taglines come from our back-cover copy. They allow us to quickly describe our story and hopefully cause the reader to want to know more.

But this is more of a logline than a tagline.

What’s the difference between a logline and a tagline?

A logline tells you what a book or a movie is about.

A tagline is more like a catchphrase. It doesn’t include specifics about the story. Instead, it communicates a feeling or an overall description of the brand.

For example, the logline for Lord of the Rings reads,