We are always selling something, our abilities to do a job, our version of an argument, the movie that we want to see this weekend, the fruits of our work, our books, our stories. Marketing and negotiating are abilities that should be ingrained in us, they should come naturally. Instead, we struggle to make those sales.
Few areas instill more horror into regular folks than Marketing (if you don't do that for a living, that is), specially for authors. The world of Literature is a complex world where you're in for the love of the art, hoping you might become the next JK Rowling, or simply because the voices compelled you (I'm with the latter if you wonder).
Those who view Literature as an Art are a very selective, posh, tiny group of writers and critics that will pretty much pander everyone who makes money out of their books; which, by the way, do not require of a dictionary to read. They are elitists against every form of marketing because Art is not for sale.
But if you're reading this, you probably aren't with them and so, you need to learn how to sell your work. An awesome blurb, a killer cover, a few nods from some better-known fellas, and a tagline are your best weapons. Today we'll focus on the last one there.
Taglines are nothing new in the marketing world. They have been proven to be an effective way to make a brand memorable. Think of Nike's "Just Do It," or Loreal's "Because You're Worth It." Movies, of course, were the natural progression; now, books, on the other hand, have not embraced the idea all that warmly. Once again, the elitists run the show by saying that your story should sell itself--if you so want to cheap your art, that is--so taglines are a sure sign of tackiness. Then again, we've stablished you are no snub. So, why haven't you written one?
There are genres that lend themselves perfectly for taglines, like Horror, Romance, and Young Adult in particular. Span-attention-challenged teens will have a hard time choosing between a bazillion Post-Apocalyptic sagas, or Paranormal Romances, and remembering titles/authors is just out of the question. This is how a tagline can set you apart and incline a reader toward the cash register with your book in hand.
Ok, so I got your interest now. But how to write one?
Well, it has to be short, powerful, intriguing, and memorable. It needs to reflect the style of your story and the atmosphere. I would make it two lines at the most. If there is comedy in your piece, make it sassy; if the language is that of young people, use idioms; if it is a mystery, ask questions. The closest thing that can give you an idea of how it is done are movies. So, I recommend you check the most memorable taglines in the genre of your book and used them as inspiration.
In this spirit, I have here the Five Most Memorable Horror Taglines I've found. Let's analyze them...
5. "It started in May in a small town. And every month after that whenever the moon was full... It came back." ~Silver Bullet (1985)
4. "They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and cities will be your tombs." ~Demons (1985)
3. "The last man on earth is not alone." ~I am Legend (2007)
2. "Between the world we see and the things we fear there are doors. When they are open, nightmares become reality." ~A Haunting. TV Show.
1. "When there's no more room in Hell, the death will walk the earth." ~Dawn of the Dead (1978)
So, I hope these inspire you to go write an awesome tagline for your book. Do you remember a tagline that has stayed with you for years? Which one, and why?
Remember, research within your genre and go for it. Be bold, be different, don't be afraid.