Together with the title and cover, good taglines can in seconds influence a potential reader to pick up your book or click on its image. So if a few short words can help sell your book then it’s well worth spending time and effort to come up with a good tagline.  

What is a tagline?

A tagline is a short phrase that tries to capture the essence of the book. It is not a summary of the book. Think of it as a mission statement – a hook to entice people to explore further. A great tagline should have the impact of a slogan and be as brief. A tagline is not confined to one type of genre.

What makes a good tagline?

  • It makes your book stand out from the rest.  
  • It portrays the key advantage or benefit of reading the book.
  • It offers a solution to the issue you are writing about.
  • Brevity. A tagline should be short. Preferably around 4-8 words.
  • It should be memorable. Use simple but dynamic or vibrant language.
  • Creativity. It needs to make an impact.
  • Originality. It should not be too generic. Steer clear of clichés. There are many over-hyped, overused, empty-promise phrases and words which only serve to detract from the value of the book and deter a potential reader. They induce the yawn factor not the buy factor.
  • It should be focused, clear and succinct. This is about your brand and branding is all about clarity.
    There are no hard and fast rules about whether you should use one but a great tagline can definitely contribute to the book’s initial desirability. Once you have decided, put on your thinking cap and use the tips above. Alternatively, you may want to consider hiring a good copyeditor who can offer advice and suggestions. For further ideas and motivation, do your own research. Look at books, both in and out of your genre, to see what makes a memorable and inspiring tagline. Take your time and make sure your tagline ticks all the boxes. Once your book is printed – it’s too late to change.

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    Mary Vaux-ClarkMary Vaux-Clark is a freelance editor, proof-reader and writer. Her areas of interest include current affairs, travel, history and sport. She has travelled widely and worked in Hong Kong as an editor and ESL teacher for over ten years.