Just Was Brought to My Attention…
That publishing is losing an art form. Television still has it, so do movies, so do gaming and other licensing areas. But books are losing this art form completely.
That’s right, writing a tag line to catch a reader’s attention used to be an art form on book covers and helped sell millions of copies of books. But now, due to simple lack of knowledge, the art form is vanishing.
So what is happening? Well, in traditional publishing, massive budget cuts have taken out most of the sales force, leaving a few for only the bestsellers. Where the sales force used to write the cover copy and tag lines for all the books in a line, now low-level baby editors right out of Vassar are tasked with the job, usually from month’s old memory of scanning the book. And they write passive and dull sales with a lot of plot and wouldn’t know a tag line if it leaped off the page and bit them.
And on the indie side, same thing. Writers think, because they can type, they know how to write sales copy (They do not.), and they also have no understanding of tag lines, even though they have been seeing them on books they buy for decades.
So today someone pointed the fact out that on books, tag lines are rare things.
I was stunned, so I did some research and yup, they are, by my thirty minutes of scanning and my gut sense of watching them vanish with so much poor sales writing in the indie world. Tag lines are now so rare that they should be put on the endangered list in book sales.
And what is sad is that tag lines are maybe one of the most powerful tools to catch a reader’s attention to buy a book.
What is a tag line?
A simple, catchy, one or two line phrase on the cover of a book or at the top of the back cover. It is also used in sales copy on Amazon and other places for electronic sales.
Example: My Men in Black novel The Grazer Conspiracy… Tag line… When aliens check in, they check them out
Example: My Alien’s novel Rogue written under the name Sandy Schofield… tag line… The Answer to a Madman’s Prayer…
Tag lines are near titles to tell the readers the comment is about the book, not the author.
I put tag lines on any book that needs the design element. If I already have a series under a title and USA Today Bestselling Writer above my name, the cover doesn’t need more print. So for a paperback, I put a tag line on the back or in the sales copy at times. Or I used to. WMG doesn’t often use tag lines anymore because Kris and I have a ton of credits and other things they can use.
But I know how to do Tag Lines, how to use them to increase sales.
But at the moment it is a dying art in books. Not in television, not in movies, not in gaming. But wow, author’s just seem to find more ways to not have their books sell. And we indie writer’s can’t blame traditional publishing anymore.
My favorite all-time tag line is still “He suffered and was killed. And the next day he was reborn, and ascended to the moon and was seated on the right hand of death.”
Signet edition with a Power’s cover of one of the first books I have a clear memory of reading. Published in 1960. Hugo nominated 1961. I offered to write the sequel to it a number of times, but he never let me.
The book is Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys. Now dated, but luckily Gene Roddenberry didn’t steal AJs form of teleportation for Star Trek. Otherwise there would be hundreds and hundreds of James T. Kirks running all over the galaxy.