Ever since I became comfortable with calling myself a writer, I’ve also had to answer the inevitable question:
What do you write?
How prepared are you to answer that question?
The first time I had to answer it, I wasn’t prepared at all. I fumbled with it. Instead of having a specific answer, I said something like, “Well, I’m just starting out, so it’s a little bit of everything.”
An answer like that isn’t going to pique anyone’s interest. Who wants to read “a little bit of everything”?
And it didn’t help my “I’m a writer” claim when I was fishing for words while trying to describe my craft.
What do you write? As you step out and call yourself a writer, or prepare to attend a conference, seek an agent, or self-publish your work, you should also have a ready answer to that question. In the writing world, this description of your work is called a tagline.
What is a tagline?
A tagline is a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and theme of what you write.
- It’s what you can say when you’re asked what you write.
- It’s what your questioner can remember and share with others.
- It gives your website visitor a feel for who you are and what you write.
- It’s what you can tell an agent or publisher at a writers’ conference.
- It can help you keep your writing focused.
It’s not necessary for a writer to have a tagline, but it sure is useful when you want to capture people’s attention.
Before I had a tagline, I tortured my poor listeners with long, drawn out descriptions of current projects and plans for the future — nothing they would remember.
Now I can leave them with a concise word picture of what I write.
For the time being, I’ve chosen this as my tagline: Stories about family, friends, goodness, and God. I found that phrase on my Afternoon Tea “About” page. I already had a tagline, and I didn’t even know it.
My tagline tells the reader exactly what they will find in my writing and, conversely, what they won’t. It’s not set in stone: The line may change as I learn more and write more, and if I narrow my focus. But for now, my tagline matches my writing goals.
If you have a tagline, does it describe you and the writing you offer?
Don’t think that you need a website before you can have a tagline. Use it on your email signature. Put it on your business cards. Add it to your Facebook “About” section and your Twitter bio. Print it, frame it, and hang it on your wall.
The most important place to have it is in your mind. That way, the next time the question is asked, you’ll be ready to say exactly what it is that you write.
If you have a tagline, let us know what it is in the comments!
Note: The tagline image was created by using the words of this post and the very fun Wordle.net app.