Monday, May 23, 2022

Tips for Writing a Tag Line for Your Book

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

The hardest thing you'll ever write is the tag line for a novel. How does one reduce 90K word novel to under fifteen? It's a hair-puller to be sure. 

The Difference Between aTag line & logline

There is a difference. A logline tells what the book is about—the main conflict, the main character, and the stakes. The tag line is a catch phrase—a hook. It doesn’t tell you anything specific about the story, but it does give you a feel for it in a way that a logline can’t. A tag line is what you see on movie posters or book covers. 

For starters, it needs to be short. A tag line is usually just one line. While you don't usually mention the genre in your tag line, readers should get an idea of whether it's i.e., romance or suspense. If your book is funny, your tagline should have a hint of humor in it. 

For the book that would become my first published novel, Chapel Springs Revival, I didn't try to write a tagline until the manuscript was completed. Then a writer buddy, who had read the manuscript, commented, "With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel." BINGO! I had a tag line, and you can see there is humor in this book. Fifteen words give you a sneak peek. 

Here are two examples of loglines vs. their tag lines:

Tag line: Don't go in the water.
Logline: A sheriff must find and kill a man-eating and frighteningly intelligent shark before it murders again and scares away all the tourists who support his beach-front community. 

Lord of the Rings
Tag line: One ring to rule them all.
Logline: A young hobbit needs to destroy an ancient, powerful ring before the evil overlord consumes the world in everlasting darkness.

Here are three favorites from other authors' books:

From Dust, by Eva Marie Everson: "Can an ordinary life leave an extraordinary legacy?" 

From With Love, Libby, by Roxanne Henke: "What happens when dreams come true?"

From Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan: "In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice." This one is a little longer—still under 20 words. 

These are favorites from my books: 

From When the Bough Breaks: "Her dream job has a Catch 22 and time is running out." This hints at the suspense within this book.

From In High Cotton: "Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there's iron in their veins." Do you see what I was aiming for in this one? 

From On Sugar Hill: "She traded Sugar Hill for Vaudeville. Now she’s back." This doesn't say much about the story, yet it gives the feel of women's fiction. And it makes you wonder 

From By the Sweet Gum: "She's bound by duty. He's tethered to a dream." 

The toughest part of writing a tag line is cutting out what we as authors think should be there. Most of the time, it isn't needed at all. 

Join the conversation: What are some of your tag lines? Were they hard or easy for you to develop? 


Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. Years later, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, and The Write Conversation.

Featured Image: Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash


  1. Great article, Ane. Can your subtitle be a tagline? My book is Health, Healing, and Wholeness. The subtitle is Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness. Or would something like "Devotions of hope that heal the heart" be better?

    1. That's a great idea for non-fiction. I think it's a super tag line!

  2. My first three books had taglines, for The Cowboys novella collection the tagline was Taming the West One Heart at a Time. That was the last time a tagline appeared on any of my novels. I was told they weren't done anymore and my last two novels don't have one. But a logline appears in all my book blurbs and ads. I personally like taglines.

    1. Tag lines don't have to appear on a novel, but they are super on a one sheet or as marketing material. I love the cowboy one! That's a great tag line!

  3. These are great, Ane! Thanks.
    Here are the taglines from my three novels:
    "A watch that tells more than the time." -- The Watch on the Fencepost
    "Saving one life is like saving the whole world." -- Dead Man's Watch
    "With time all things are revealed." -- Time After Tyme

    1. I love your tag lines! They're short, and each one raises a question within me. Great job!