Sunday, June 16, 2013

Queries and Loglines and Blurbs, Oh My! - Series Part Four: What the Heck is a Logline, Anyway?

The first time I went to a writer's conference, my head literally swum with all the buzz words being bandied about.  At the time, my first book, Spellbound, was a much-handled manuscript, and two others were as well.  It wasn't even a series book yet, a single standalone title.  (See how much I didn't know back then?).

Anyway, I sat in on different workshops and found myself writing down all these words and catch phrases to look up later.  Two I heard often, after I'd figured out "Query", was loglines and taglines.  Elevator pitch came up as well.  I nodded sagely every time I heard one, then rushed to a corner to google the damn thing.  Even then, I thought the two were interchangeable, called something different maybe by different areas, like an East Coast-West Coast thing.  So not the case.

So, in Part Four of this series, I want to dispel the rumors and misinformation.  They are not the same.  I know.  I was shocked too.  Then, embarrassed when I realized how many times I had misused the terms.  Here are the proper Webster definitions:

Web definitions
A tagline is a variant of a branding slogan typically used in marketing materials and advertising. 

Web definitions
The story in one active sentence, focusing on the concept, main character and main conflict. Ideally in 25 words or less..

My Take:

Tagline:  You know how Amazon used to ask you to choose specific words to describe your books?  Well, your publisher will still do this.  These are the "tags" or words that will call up your book every time someone puts them in an internet search.  Words such as YA, paranormal, witch, first love, and supernatural are all tag words that describe my first novel, Spellbound.  And here's a HUGE tip: those tag words should appear in the description of your book in your query.

See how everything is annoyingly related?  The good news is if you master one concept, you can master all.

The tag words integrate into the
 logline, which becomes part of your query from which you develop your blurb.

If you are new to the publishing industry, you will hastily learn that these processes are almost the only way a new novel from a new novelist, gets published for the first time.  If you have been in the industry for awhile, you now know that these things are a necessary evil.  Either way, you have to get your head around them.

Practice explaining your book to yourself in the mirror.  What words are you punching?  What words are you missing?  Oftentimes, a compelling
 logline will actually appear on the very cover of your book.  That was the case with my latest, The Deadlies.  My logline:

 At Holly Hills Academy, being rich and pretty can be deadly.

My publisher printed it right on the cover!  Man, I better love it and be passionate about it.  Happily, I am!  And the first line of my query AND blurb just expanded on the idea:

                  When Calliope Flood catches the unwanted attention of the prettiest and most privileged girls at her new school, she learns they are possessed of more than just good ole’ Southern charm; they are also possessed by the demons of the Seven Deadly Sins. 

From the
 tagline "rich and pretty" is echoed in the blurb with "prettiest and most privileged", and the deadly part is expanded upon with the idea of being possessed by the seven deadly sins.

So, here are my steadfast rules for

  1. Give the main character an epithet: vengeful divorcee, struggling aspiring writer, etc.
  2. Identify your main character's mission and what he stands to lose if he fails
  3. Brainstorm words and phrases that conjure up your personal idea of your book
  4. Pick 25-30 that sound the most compelling and right
  5. NOW, pick 5-8 of those that sound even better
  6. Fashion a tight, 25-word pitch.  THAT is your logline.
Okay!  Now get loggin'!

No comments:

Post a Comment