Written by Brendan O’Meara
Yes, tag lines. What are they and why are they important? First, it’s a one-sentence summary of your book. In about 30 words, can you successfully and succinctly sum up what your story is about? Second, in your marketing questionnaire, you’ll need to build one so it will fit nicely in a catalog. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be in the presence of an inquiring agent or publisher, you need to pop this sentence off and hook them in the ten seconds it takes you to recite it.
Now that I’ve defined it, how can Netflix help you out?
On the live stream, every show has a tag line below it. Here’s the one for my favorite show, Lost:
After their plane crashes on a deserted island, a diverse group of people must adapt to their new home and contend with the island’s enigmatic forces.
26 words. Quick and easy. It doesn’t mention the greater game at play between Jacob and the Man in Black. It doesn’t mention the Dharma Initiative or time travel. You know a plane crashes on a mysterious island. I’m hooked.
Another one of my favorite shows is Breaking Bad. Here’s the Netflix tag line:
A high school chemistry teacher dying of cancer teams up with a former student to manufacture and sell crystal meth to secure his family’s future.
No mention of escalating drug wars and gruesome grips for power. Perfect.
How about something a little lighter, say, from the movie Thor:
Powerful thunder god Thor is stripped of his power and banished by his father Odin, forced to live among humans on Earth to learn humility.
Here’s Walking Dead:
In the wake of a zombie apocalypse, survivors hold on to the hope of humanity by banding together to wage a fight for their own survival.
Bottom line we see what the stakes are and why we should be interested. You must be able to do this. It’s a good exercise in brevity, getting to the point, and using word economy to sell your work.
And another important matter, if you can’t sum it up in a tag line, you don’t know the what you’re book is about. If you don’t know what your book is about, you can’t distill its essence to a greater public. You won’t even reach that far. It won’t get to the public until you can reduce your 100,000-word tome to 25 words. It ain’t easy. So let’s play.
What’s your tag line for you project? Let’s workshop them in the comments. I’ll start with two of mine.
For Six Weeks in Saratoga:
Filly Rachel Alexandra caps off an undefeated season by beating the boys for a third time en route to being named Horse of the Year.
For The Last Championship:
A son watches his father play senior softball and learns to reconcile to the bitter end to his own baseball career by playing again.
Now it’s your turn!