I’ve seen the issue of tagline vs logline raised in forum conversations, so I did some research on it. Apparently, if you pitch a movie script, and you claim that a logline is a tagline, it can be instantly rejected. I hope that when it comes to books this is not set in stone, but knowing what you’re talking about is always a sign of professionalism, and that’s what we’re all striving for.
So what is the difference between a tagline and a logline?
It’s a short catchphrase (or two but not more than three) that captures the essence of your story. Think about what you’d put on the cover of your book.
What to consider when creating a tagline
- Hooking your reader (how? use puns, fresh language, incite feelings)
- Serving your genre (how? use genre keywords)
Tired of seeing him go through women like water, can she convince him to pull her out of the friend-zone? Blue Streak – Jules Barnard
In one sentence, the author “screams” romance and gives us a strong grasp of the premise—girl wants promiscuous boy to see her as more than just a friend. Note how the author hints at the heroine’s timid nature as she needs him to pull her out of the friend-zone.
Love will go on forever seeking another chance. The Lady of the Pier by Effrosyni Moschoudi
This is a romance with a paranormal twist. Note the key phrase that denotes the sub-genre: love will go on forever
An unshared smile is a wasted smile. Runaway Smile — Nicholas C. Rossis (Children’s book)
Tragedy awaits. The Search by C.H. Little (Thriller)
What you mustn’t do
- Don’t make it too long which would mean applying a smaller font for your cover (not readable in thumbnail size)
- Don’t try to describe the plot (or you’ll get into “logline” territory)
- Don’t make it too obscure (i.e. use a gimmick that makes no sense unless you read the book)
This is the shortest description possible of your plot. It has to be one sentence only of up to 50 words. If you go over, it becomes a synopsis. Less could be a tagline.
Whereas in the tagline you want to hint at what’s there and leave an aura of mystery, here you have to establish your protagonist and antagonist and explain why the reader would want to read your book. I’ve also seen it called “the elevator pitch”. Think about meeting an agent in an elevator, needing to answer the dreaded “what’s your book about” question.
The logline is not suitable for your book cover. You will want to include it in your Media Kit, though, together with the tagline and your official blurb.
What you should consider when creating a logline
- What drives your MCs (internal drive)
- What makes your book exciting (the conflict)
Here’s what I plan on using for my upcoming novella Fate Captured (a romance).
A young woman will stop at nothing to make the stubborn Greek man she’s fallen for see the truth about his family even if it means losing him forever.
My heroine’s internal drive is a need to uncover lies (she’s been lied to by her family, and it’s the one thing she cannot tolerate). My hero’s main personality trait is his stubbornness (well, his Greek DNA is not a big help in that area). Showing the premise for their clash and what that entails (her losing him forever, him hanging on to a distorted view of people that matter) is–hopefully–what makes the book an interesting read.
Now, the tagline for the same book would be:
She wants him to see the truth. He wants her out of his life. Even if she gives it meaning.
Here, the romance branding takes front seat. She gives meaning to his life, ergo his life is empty. He needs her, but he’s too stubborn to see it.
See the difference?
I found an interesting article in pdf form presenting various famous film loglines with comments about their effectiveness. It’s an excellent guide to help you create effective loglines.
If you’d like to bounce tag- or logline ideas off me, just use the comments’ section.
Thanks for reading!