Cara Langston

Novel Taglines: My Worst Enemy

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I’m falling behind on my New Year’s Resolution to blog. I should say there’s no excuse, but really, I can name quite a few:

  • I still have a full-time job outside of my writing
  • I have an hour-long commute each way to that job
  • I watched 3 seasons of Scandal in 3 weeks
  • My husband and I are moving into our first house in 2 weeks, and I’ve been packing our belongings into cardboard boxes on the weekends
  • And, oh yeah, I also try to write novels in my spare time

Whew! March has been quite a month. But I’ve carved out some time to write this post, all thanks to an exercise that I despise: Creating a tagline for your novel.

I wasn’t initially sure I wanted a tagline for BATTLE HYMNS, so I put it off. And then my cover designer created the most gorgeous cover for my debut novel. At the bottom, in a smaller font size, were the words, “Tagline here.” And I said, “Well, shit.”

I needed one. The title doesn’t tell readers what the story is about. The cover (which will be revealed in the next 2 months) hints to one of the major themes of the novel but isn’t indicative of a romance. So I needed a hook. I scoured my bookshelf and pulled out all my historical fiction novels. Turns out most of them were paperbacks and their taglines had been removed on that edition. So I found the first edition covers on Goodreads, made notes on what other authors chose, and then brainstormed my own phrases.

It was an awful exercise, one that made me doubt my ability to put two or more words together to form a phrase. I am humbly willing to share my failed attempts. They range from the simple (A novel of love and war) to the cheesy (Love is the best medicine) to the Pat Benatar (Love is a battlefield).

I did finally come up with something I like: A Second War. A Second Chance.

It’s set during WWII (A Second War) and both main characters get second chances at love and at life (A Second Chance). It’s perfect.

Now I’m going to play “Love is a Battlefield” until I finally stop humming it.

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