(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to. At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series (because it’s a long, long post!)
So far in this series we’ve covered the “picture” that will be on your cover, but there’s another component that is just as important, yet often ignored, and that’s the type (aka, the title, the author’s name, etc.)
I’m going to assume that if you’re making a cover then you’ve chosen your book title and author name (to use your own name or a pen name? Hmmmmm….) but that still leaves a couple of things: the back of book description for, you guessed it, the back of the book (which I’ll cover later) and the question “To tag line or not to tag line?”
What’s a tag line? A tag line is that little sentence on the cover of a book that grabs your attention. Things like “Soon to be a major Motion picture” or “Five Stars – the New York Times” are tag lines you’re probably not going to deal with. However, if you have a review already, or even just a cool comment from a friend or relative like “Gripping, suspenseful tale”, then you can use this for your tag line. The key to this is that you want something catchy, and you want it to sound professional. You want to use their full, legal or pen name, not their nickname, screen name or “Uncle Bob”.
If you don’t have a “blurb” from someone then don’t worry, you can use something else that adds to the title of the book. For instance my title is Shades of Gray and my tag line says “Not everything is black and white…” (Yes, I realize now that “Nothing is black and white” would be better, but such is life) which I carry over to the back with “Not everything is black and white, not even vampires…”
How do you come up with a tag line like that? That depends on how much you’ve “over thought” your book. If you’ve had the six month craft-the-perfect-quer- letter-fight, like I did, then there’s a good chance you’ve over analyzed it to the max. When I started that gruesome task, all I could think of was, ‘the book is about some really cool vampires.” But, as I was forced to examine and reexamine and make up a load of artistic crap *cough*, I came to the conclusion that though, yes, it IS about really cool vampires, the whole theme of the book was that there is no good and evil, or right or wrong, it all depends on where you’re standing. For instance, had I written the book from Clausius’s point of view, it would seem that Jorick and Oren and Katelina were the bad guys because they have kidnapped his mate.
So, after over analyzing the book, I came up with the “blurb” to tack on the end of my query letters, aka the “Nothing is Black and White”, which not only made my “theme statement”, but also played off the title. Funnily enough, it eventually got cut out of the query letter as the people helping felt it was to “derived”. But what is too “derived” for a query worked well for a tag line, I think.
That said, my best advice is “Don’t over think this!!” Don’t stress about it, or spend hours or days wracking your brain. Just sit down some afternoon and write out a list of ideas, even sucky ones. Then, wait until the next day and go back through the list and see what pops out at you. It’s even better if you can get a friend or family member to take a look too.
Another option for a tag line could, of course, be something like “The Sequel to Whatever”, or “Book Two in the Underwater Monkeys Trilogy” (I’d so read that!) or even “From the Author of How to Make a Rainbow out of Cheese“. But, it has to actually be relevant to your book.
Of course, if you don’t have a tagline then don’t worry. You don’t need one. However, tag lines are handy things to have because you can use them in so many other places besides just the cover, like advertising blurbs, email signatures, you name it.
Does anyone else have any advice on how to come up with a “blurb”?