It has become fashionable to use a tagline for our book. Not just for promotion but also on our book covers. We want to attract attention of potential new readers. Since we can’t put our blurb on the front book cover, we seek another way to advertise our product.

This means coming up with a catchy phrase that will make someone stop and wonder just what is behind that beautiful cover. If done well, a tagline is an invaluable advertising tool. If overdone or wrong, you have a major mess that will drive away new readers instead of attracting them.

Exactly what is a tagline?

A tagline is quite simply is a catch phrase. It doesn’t describe the characters, nor the plotline. A tagline gives nothing away. All it does is hint at what lies behind the cover.

Perhaps the tagline below is the best example of how to do one.

One ring to rule them all.

Six simple words. Six words to identify one of the most well loved movies series and book series. The books these movies were based on cover many generations of the same family. I can tell you from experience that nine out of ten people reading this blog have already identified this tagline. How many of you haven’t read J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings books. Even less people didn’t see the movies. This is perhaps one of the largest franchises in the entertainment industry.

And their simple yet evocative tagline will always identify them.

Notice how you don’t see anything about Frodo, Gandaulf, or any of the other iconic characters mentioned. There’s no detail about a golem that terrorizes Frodo during most of the tale. Nothing about a love story between a human male and a female elf. Nor is the final battle many of us still describe a part of this. All Tolkein has used is a single symbol of the book to create a tagline that will be memorable millennia from now.

Instead of demanding that a logline—a longer description used to detail a movie—be put on your book cover, you need to refine your book into five to six simple words—words that may one day describe your work to millions of fans.


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