6 Tips for a Memorable Author Tagline

A tagline gives more information about you and about your purpose in a short, bite-size phrase that can easily sink into your reader’s minds.

Like you, I’m busy. I usually give a website maybe five to ten seconds to prove its worth before I move on. It’s nothing personal. Life’s short.

Taglines are a great way to hook the interest of busy readers and web-surfers–as long as that tagline is purposeful, snappy, and connects with your core message.

There are plenty of helpful articles with examples of taglines, but I’m going to pull out my English language know-how to clue you into one secret about taglines and then break it down.

It’s all about poetry.

Yeah, poetry. That stuff you had to learn in high school (or didn’t learn, because you were zoning out). Love it or hate it, poetry focuses on the rhythms, beats, and patterns of language, and that makes it an asset when it comes turning out a good phrase.

The best taglines are poetry. Here are some examples of how to put this into practice.

1.) Alliteration

Start each word (or at least a significant number of words) with the same letter. One of my old tag lines for fiction was Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. Ronie Kendig’s tagline? Rapid-Fire Fiction. Pam Halter has a great one with Fairies, Fantasy, and Faith. Alliteration sticks in the brain and creates a great starting point for your brand.

2.) Rhyming

Another tagline I’ve seen is Create. Explore. Read. This tagline used the One Word method mentioned below, but also sneaks in a rhyme between the first and third words. The second “buffer” word and the fact that all three of the words directly relate to the mission statement makes this tagline a home run.

3.) Syllables 

Let’s go back to Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. The first three primary words all start with “m”, all have two syllables, and all have the same stress pattern: MONsters, MISfits, MUSHy Stuff. This makes for a satisfying mouthful.

4.) Repetition

Repeating the same stress pattern, syllable pattern, or beginning word is a key aspect in many effective taglines. Just don’t do it too much or it can get sing-songy in a bad way.

5.) Short and Punchy

Write Inside Out, one of my old taglines, used to be Building Stories From the Inside Out. I slimmed it down because it was too long to get through. Now my tagline is Own Your Unique Words. Again, short, precise, and simple. Although I’ll never say a long tagline is out of the question, in general shorter is better.

6.) One Word 

For my press, Uncommon Universes Press (note the alliteration?) our tagline is Wonder. Adventure. Sacrifice. This encapsulates UUP’s thematic vision.

Ultimately, you can have all of the above and still not have a great tagline. Why? Because taglines are more than just clever poetry tricks.

Sure, you can throw together random words: Dream. Live. Believe. or Soft Words for Strong Matters (see there? Contrasting elements between soft and strong). But if that clever little phrase doesn’t really encapsulate what makes you, your mission, and your motivation/angle unique, then it might as well not be there.

You know you have a good tagline when you can explain how it directly relates to your fiction.

Better a less-clever tagline that resonates with your writing than a word gem that doesn’t really mean anything.

If you can nail down a great tagline, then you have one more expression of your authentic self and vision to reach readers and allow them to see into your world. And that is priceless.

Now breathe deep, go forth, and be awesome. 

Show-off time! What’s your tagline? Respond in the comments!

This Post Has 45 Comments

  1. I’ll share AND open for critique!

    After chatting with Suzy Q last year, I ultimately came up with “Own Your Power,” since many of my stories have a common theme of responsibility, empowerment, and potential (all aspects of the same core). Some people really like it, but a few people have found it confusing or political. What do people here think: Is it an empowering tagline or does it give another impression?

    Thanks!

    1. Cathrine

      For me this sounds like you are writing self help. The tag line is saying this to me but tells me nothing about you.

    2. Janeen Ippolito

      I like the phrase “Own Your Power” because it comes off as very strong and empowering, which is a great message to send about yourself and your brand. You’re definitely a mover and a shaker! That being said, I don’t necessarily connect it to be speculative at all, and I never would have made the connection to themes in your fiction.

  2. Maybe too long, but it works with my overall brand. “A different kind of GEKE” playing off my spectacularly awesome initials.

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      Love how you’ve used your initials in this! It adds the touch of uniqueness.

  3. Marisa

    Hmmmm….I’d love something about fiction being more true than nonfiction but that doesn’t really fit into a few words. True fiction. Ha! Maybe I’m on the wrong path here. I’ll come back later.

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      Haha, “true fiction” is actually intriguing. Juxtapositions can really work for that. However, it might also end up being quite confusing. Maybe “truth in fiction” or something like that.

  4. Laurie

    I write Christian Children’s Equine fiction which is a mouth full so my tag line/hashtag is: He Reigns. Thoughts?
    (Also, the title of the first book in the series is Reins of Love.)

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      I love the double meaning of “He Reigns” and the simplicity. Plus, you gotta think that your core audience will get the “divine pronoun” aspect. Still, the issue I see is that “He Reigns” is a very common Christian catchphrase in multiple circles.

  5. Pam Halter

    Thanks for mentioning my blog name, Janeen! It’s always a relief to know I’ve done something right without even knowing. Ha!! I chose Fairies, Fantasy, and Faith because I’m branding myself as The Fairy Lady (for lack of a better name) and that it’s fantasy, but fantasy with faith. CBA, overall, has shied away from fairies, which I can’t figure out since they’ll publish dragons and vampires. But I believe that is changing (yay!!) and I want to be right up front when it does. And when someone thinks of fairies, they’ll think of me.

    Thanks for the great tips, too!

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      It’s a great tagline–and great that you can explain it so coherently! Glad you enjoyed the tips. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Rachel Hills

    I’m an editor (mostly academic work but transitioning into fiction), and the people I want to attract are authors so my tag line is
    “Because you live to write”
    Too simple?

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      I like the “eye rhyme” of live to write (eye rhyme is another fun sound/syntax element). The only thing that leaves me confused is I’m not sure what services you’re offering. Are you implying “Because you live to write, I’ll edit for you?” There are other types of author services that could also fill that blank. That being said, I think it works well enough. Might tweak it a little for clarity, but that’s up to you. 🙂

  7. Jill Hackman

    I use “True North Fiction,” because my stories are about the characters finding their path, their True North, to become the person God designed them to be. Although it doesn’t really follow any of the tips you mentioned, it does reflect my passion. 😊

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      AHA! 😀 It does play on metaphor (True North), which is a fantastic thing to use in a tagline. And it works well as a subtle way to reach a potentially broader audience, because “True North” is something many people are striving for. I like it. 🙂

  8. Vickie Mc Donald

    Vickie Mc Donald
    I’m writing suspense drama novels that have a strong link to fashion. I’m currently thinking of:

    Fiction by Design
    Fashionable Fiction
    Fashion, Fame and Family Secrets

    I really like Fiction by Design but I’m unsure as to whether that will resonate with others. Any thoughts?

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      I like Fiction by Design too. I would just check to make sure it isn’t already being used. Also, I might add “Suspenseful Fiction by Design” because suspense is a big part of the brand.

      Now, for a book tagline, I might use something like Fashion, Fame, and Family Secrets.

      1. Vickie Mc Donald

        Hi Janeen

        Thank you for your reply. It’s been almost a year since I wrote this post, and I’m still working on the tagline! I have since come up with Designer Drama, but again, I’m not sure whether that resonates. My fiction writing covers a range of eras, so I’m not sure that this is too modern? I guess fashion designers have been around for centuries. I’m getting close to completing my first manuscript, so I’m keen to get this formalised. Any thoughts?

        1. Janeen Ippolito

          I would say it’s too modern and a bit too vague in terms of what readers can expect from you.

  9. Mica

    I am at the very beginning stages of freelance writing. I wanted to communicate to potential clients that I am open to working on different types of writing assignments. Using your guidance I chose Illuminate. Communicate. Create.

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      I like it! Nails the poetry angle. How does it work in terms of meaning? How does the choice and placement of each word connect with your brand?

  10. Angela Hollis

    I have been going back and forth between some taglines for my side writing gig. The writing will cover a wide variety of topics, so I’m not sure what direction to go in. Please assist. 🙂

    -Loquacious Excellence, Ink.
    -Informed Insight & rudimentary hilarity.
    -The Verbose Vixen

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      Hmmm, Loquacious Excellence is a mouthful, and might go over the heads of a lot of potential clients.

      For your second, I like “informed insight” for the alliteration, but “rudimentary hilarity” is lacking. First of all, you don’t need to put down your own work. You might be self-deprecating about your humor, but your tagline isn’t the place for it. Also, “rudimentary” has way too many syllables to work with the rest of your tagline.

      The Verbose Vixen has a nice angle to it. It also has an edgy, sassy feel to it. Is that how you want to show up to your ideal client?

  11. Katelyn Sampson

    Live. Love. Learn.

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      It could work, although it looks like you’ll have some competition on the Google rankings for that one. I’d recommend going for something more distinctively YOU. 🙂

  12. Anita Bright

    Hi Janeen,
    I hope I am not too late for your input but I am just now discovering your “6 Tips…”, and btw, it’s awesome, to offer your big brain, to help us!
    Just a little quick background, I used to work in law enforcement. The county that I worked for, well, it was so full of corrupt police officers and elected officials, that I decided to open a Private Investigation Firm, instead. My firm is a little different than most. I expose the corruptness, in the our political arena, in our judicial system and we also help the wrongfully accused/arrested to prove their innocence, instead.
    The books that I have published, are revealing the truth, about the craziest of cases, in our law enforcement and with our elected officials. I am having the hardest time thinking of a tagline…
    I have always used, “The purpose of life, is to have a life with purpose…”, which is not my quote but I try to live my life, by that very quote. I was thinking about using “Living on Purpose” or a play on my name, with “A Brighter Attitude”, (the ladder, is also the name of my other website) as my tagline but not so sure if either, would be a good tagline? May I pick your big brain for any suggestions?

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      “Living on Purpose” and “A Brighter Attitude” are both great taglines, but I’m not seeing a clear connection to what you uniquely do and have to offer your ideal customer. I’d focus on what you, more specifically, do in the lives of your readers/clients and what your unique beliefs are, then go for the intersection of those two areas.

  13. Esmeralda

    Hi Janeen!
    I ran into your website from Jerry Jenkins’ “Creating an Author Website” blog. I’m in the beginning stages of calling myself a writer, but I’m taking that step of faith and going for it! I write love stories/dramas that are relatable to the hardships of life, centered around faith in Christ, and bringing different cultures (races, ethnicities, languages, etc.) together. I’d love your input on some ideas. Do you think something like “Real Life Fiction with A lot of Faith” would be too long? Maybe something like “Fusing Faith, Love, and Fiction”? I’d also love your input on what you think about creating a freelance writer’s website vs. an author website. Do you think they should be separate, or can they be combined into one hub? Thank you so much for your tips. They’ve really helped so much! Hope to hear from you soon!

    Esmeralda

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      “Fusing Faith, Love, and Fiction” -> this is a stronger tagline that uses parallelism, alliteration, and has a strong core of meaning.

      I’m all about doing more with your time, so in general I’m a fan of making them all one website. That being said, it depends on how your writing connects with your fiction (or doesn’t, as the case may be). If you’re writing for completely different markets, you might want to have separate websites so that your markets don’t get confused. However, you can feel free to link them to each other.

  14. Chrissy

    I am currently re-working my first novel, after it’s come back from my beta readers with some great suggestions for improvement. It’s a literary fiction/clean romance that centres on the growth/learning curve of the main characters; in this book, as well as the others I have in mind, my characters all have to either unlearn/learn “truths” about themselves in order to find happiness and their own peace. I want to create characters/books that people can easily relate to and empathize with: Does “Relatable Riveting Reads” work?

  15. Cassie Sanchez

    I might be a day late and a dollar short but I am struggling with a tag line. I write fantasy with a splash of romance. I’d say my main readers will be women (just finished the manuscript – working on website and shopping agents).
    For the Love of Fantasy
    Fantasy with a Splash of Romance

    Drawing a blank 🙁

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      Your next goals are to Google both of those and see if they’re taken.

      I would say “For the Love of Fantasy” is a bit too generic for your specific audience. It just sounds like a fantasy fan website.

      The second is a lot more descriptive and could do a fine job. Just Google it, and if it’s taken, then start tweaking words.

      Happy tweaking! 🙂

  16. Laura Love

    Hi there, I’m a Romance Author and I’m new at this and struggling with my tag line.
    I only came up with: Desire, Devine, and Deliciousness.

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      Before you do anything else, Google it and variations and see if it’s taken–and by whom. 🙂

  17. Bonnie L Lacy

    Hi Janeen,
    I seem to write about hope, about ex-cons, addictions and abuse, angels and demons. But hope is threaded throughout each book, whether fiction or nonfiction. I loved your article so I started brainstorming. I submit: Prisons of the Heart Suspense. It doesn’t seem to tick any of your tips though. I did google it and Prisoners of the heart popped up, but not Prisons of the Heart Suspense. What do you think?

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      The problem with Prisons of the Heart Suspense is that “Prisons of the Heart” sounds too title-specific, rather than general themes. I’d play around a little more with general thematic words. 🙂

  18. Betty

    I’m very happy to have found this site (especially with feedback!)! I am a retired pastor who writes blogs and books to encourage people to be all that they can be. I write from a faith-based position of the promises in the Bible. I’m wondering what you think of Powerful Promises, Privileged Potential. It doesn’t really say what I do – just the core of what I write about. I’m currently using Writer, Poet, Pilgrim, Wanderer – but that’s more about who I am, not what I offer my readers. I’m SO new to all this!

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      Powerful Promises is a great start! Very strong. Privileged Potential is a little more abstract and therefore, not as strong. Who has the Privileged Potential? Your readers? You? Do they get it from your books? Plus, it’s a bit awkward to say. I’d tweak that second part. 🙂

  19. Becky Sue Harwood

    Thank you Janeen for giving YEARS of help to writers building their tagline!

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  20. Debbie Fisher

    Thanks for the great tips! We’ve just renamed our nonprofit to Beat for Beat. We provide music programs for kids who don’t easily have access to music education (which is key to kids’ brain health, self confidence) leveraging local working musicians. A main part of our narrative is connecting kids & musicians (who love their craft and need extra income) to create a more vibrant music scene in the Austin, TX area now but no limits to where we can go! We’d love you feedback on these taglines we’ve got in the running
    1) Music Connects Us. Join Our Band.
    2) Music. Play It. Share It. Live It.
    3) Compose. Connect. Contribute. (or Collaborate)
    4) Making Music. Connecting Community.
    5) Feel the pulse. Dare to play your part.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Janeen Ippolito

      What a wonderful cause!

      First off: I’m assuming you’ve googled these taglines? That’s the first solid way to sift through them.

      Considering your mission, I think 1 or 4 say it best.

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