Even though I’m not a big fan of Facebook, I’ve been spending more time there lately. A major reason for that is I’ve discovered some fantastically helpful FB groups. One of the best is Facebook the WANA Way, started by Facebook guru Lisa Hall-Wilson.
Lisa’s been a guest here before, comparing Facebook’s Profiles and Pages, and she knows her stuff. Her FB group is all about how we can use Facebook in smart and non-spammy ways. As her group’s description states:
“This is a group for those who consider themselves WANAs and want to build a writing platform the WANA way on Facebook.
All are welcome. Ask to join. The skill-testing question: What does WANA stand for?”
(*psst* If you don’t know what WANA stands for, take a minute and learn from Kristen Lamb why we’re stronger together than we are apart.)
On her group, Lisa shares tips for best practices (“What should I post on my page?”), news about FB changes, advice for getting the most out of FB ads or “boosted” posts, etc. She also polls members on various issues (“What’s the most annoying/worst FB etiquette behavior you’ve seen?”).
If you’re on Facebook (and especially if you’ve struggled with how to use it in non-spammy ways), be sure to check out Lisa’s group. Then scroll through the questions and answers we’ve already gathered.
What Is a Tagline?
Yesterday, she asked people in her FB group whether they had a tagline, and the conversation reminded me that I’d intended to do a post about them. In branding, a tagline is a catchphrase or slogan.
Taglines are like the phrases you’d find on a movie poster: short, intriguing, punchy, attention-getting (“One ring to rule them all”). They’re different from loglines, which summarize a story. For more about the difference, Marcy Kennedy compared book taglines and loglines at Writers Helping Writers: The Bookshelf Muse.
Things can get complicated though. As authors, we might have several kinds of taglines:
- Book Tagline: Think of those intriguing phrases like “Secrets can’t stay buried” sometimes included on book covers. These can be different for each book. They don’t have to explain anything about the plot. Instead, they’re designed to grab attention, create an emotional response, and set the tone for the story.
- Series Tagline: The name of a series often acts as a tagline, with powerful words like “Such-and-such Legacy” or allusions to what ties the books together—location, theme, etc.—like “The Place Name Adventures” or “The Adjective-Emotion Chronicles.” In addition, book series can have an overall tagline as well, like “Where Darkness Lies…”
- Fiction vs. Non-Fiction Taglines: If we write both fiction and non-fiction, we might have different taglines for each. The fiction tagline might lean more toward entertainment and the non-fiction tagline might be more professional or promise educational information. Many authors making the rounds as workshop speakers use their non-fiction tagline with their presentations, like “So-and-So, The Plotting Perfectionist.”
- Blog Tagline: If we blog, we might have a tagline hinting at our blog’s emphasis, like “Growing as a Writer, One Rejection at a Time.” The problem with these types of taglines is that our blog’s style and emphasis might change over time. After all, the writer in the example might get an acceptance. If we have to start over with a new tagline, we can lose all our earlier branding momentum.
- Author Tagline: I’d recommend using an author tagline on our websites or blogs. Then we’re branding ourselves, and we’re less likely to change ourselves than our blogging focus. In addition, author taglines can be used everywhere to build name recognition.
Why Do We Need an Author Tagline?
Author taglines can be the hardest to come up with because it feels the most nebulous. We often feel like we know our stories better than we know ourselves. Because of that, many put off coming up with anything that fits.
However, just as we want an author website with our name, and not just a website with our book or series title, we want a tagline that applies in all situations. Our author tagline is for our name recognition.
Author taglines help make us more memorable and tell potential readers who we are and why we write what we write:
- The Who: What overall image do we want our audience to have of us and our work? What makes us, us? How do we want to relate to our audience?
- The Why: Why should our audience care? What benefits will they get out of paying attention to us? What will they feel or learn?
Brainstorming an Author Tagline
If you struggle to come up with an author tagline, take heart. Author taglines might be easier after we’ve been writing for a while because then we can pick out trends in our work:
- Maybe we write with common themes or settings or characters (love, small towns, kick*ss heroines).
- Maybe our stories involve similar obstacles or antagonists (last stand against evil).
- Maybe our work shares certain moods or tones (funny, dark).
Try to come up with 5 to 10 words to describe you and your work and then play around with them. Keep your tagline short, 3 to 7 words or so.
Author Taglines Aren’t about Genre
Notice those examples above don’t focus on a single genre. Our author tagline isn’t about our work directly. Rather, they’re indirectly about our work and us.
Think about why we like to write what we write. Do we like finding hope in dark situations? Do we like stories of redemption? Those reasons aren’t likely to change, even if we switch genres.
For example, even though I’ve written stories in the paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and post-apocalyptic genres, my stories all have things in common. They include dark, edgy elements, touching on substantial issues, and characters who explore the gray area between good and bad. But in essence, I write for entertainment with stories that focus on themes of love, hope, and redemption.
Is my tagline, “Beach Reads with Bite,” the best ever? Absolutely not. And if I were writing one for the first time today—after knowing more about myself as an author—I’d probably come up with something different. But it alludes to the entertainment-with-an-edge approach I take with every story, no matter the genre, so it works well enough that it hasn’t been worth it for me to change.
Once we have a tagline, we can use it on our website and blog, on our business cards, and in our social media profiles. The more we use it, the more triggers we’re adding for name recognition.
Author taglines give our audience the context they need to remember us. And having a reader remember that we and our books exist is the first step to them making a purchase. *smile*
Do you have an author tagline? Do you need help brainstorming one? If so, post in the comments a bit about you and your writing: What’s your “who” and “why”? What commonalities form the core of your work? (And don’t forget to check out Lisa’s Facebook group!)
P.S. Happy New Year! And may all your 2014 dreams come true!Pin It