Author Toolbox 5: The Logline

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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What I know about marketing isn’t much. I’ve taken part in Facebook parties—not alone—thank goodness. I’ve posted my share of cover reveals, and blog tours posts was well. As a supporter and as an author. It’s all a learning experience and all worth doing. If for nothing else, to find out what works.

I keep notes and so should you.

Authors are expected to promote their work. A publisher will pay for the editing and cover and they will promote as far as they can. But here’s the thing, our moment in the sun is only one of many they will promote that year, possibly that month.

You may think

“I can’t toot my own horn.”

then don’t, but there May be consequences.

Low sales means you not only hurt yourself but also your publisher. And maybe the next book you pitch to them will be a pass. Why? Because they didn’t make their money back. Bottom line—a business makes money.

Stand on a soapbox and shout you wrote a book.

Be proud of it. Try to get as many readers as possible to at least read the blurb.

How?

Start with your logline. You know the one. It’s the one sentence, stating the characters (not by name but by description) and the stakes they face if they fail or succeed, that keeps you on track when you’re writing,

LogLine:

If you don’t do this, then start.

I tweaked my logline into a 140 characters twitter pitch to find my readers—publishers and agents—during #PitMad and #WritePit.

Here are some examples that sold, White Light:

  • Great Aunt Alice has one dying wish. Emma, lend me your body long enough to solve my murder and maybe get lucky one last time. #PitMad Myst
  • Given a chance to prevent a murder, Emma will do anything. Even if it means, a trip back to her old room in the psych ward. #Pitmad A Myst
  • When a psychic warns two busybodies where danger lies, she doesn’t let her death stop her from joining the fun #WritePit #A Myst
  • She’s older. She’s smarter. What’s stopping her from solving her murder? Two friends on the job and the fact she’s a ghost. #WritePit #A #Myst

The goal is to come up with something that will catch a reader’s eye.

Any marketing secrets you’d care to share? I’d love to learn something new.

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61 responses to “Author Toolbox 5: The Logline

  1. Great advice, and I agree that we have to work hard to overcome any shyness issues if we want a book to be noticed. Crafting a tweet-length logline is certainly no mean feat. I’m definitely intrigued by yours!

  2. Great post. I was never good at coming up with loglines. Found taglines much easier. Then realized recently that a logline is a Twitter pitch but without the accompanying genre and or sub-genre hashtags.

    • It really does help me focus on the bones of the story. Maybe your pitch should have both a (shorter) logline and the tagline.

      I’ve seen it done and almost died of envy. hehehe

  3. Thank you for reminding authors that the duty of marketing does fall on them as well as their publisher. The logline or pitch is so important because it can be used in so many ways to promote.

  4. Great variants of the logline on the same story. A wonderful tool in your toolbox. Thank you.

  5. Loglines are useful when using Amazon Ads, which require 150 words or less. It’s not an easy task, whatever the length.

  6. If you can come up with the logline for the story it can also keep you on point about the story you are telling like a compass. Great advice on the pitch. LIke yours. Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  7. You are excellent at the longline craft Anna. I love your examples 🙂

  8. Great pitches. I can see why they worked. 🙂

  9. Great advice. New advice. I wasn’t aware of the concept of loglines. But it seems a very relevant practice. Especially, in the age of social media where we must, indeed, act as our own heralds. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Awesome advice. And yes, it is hard but try to get a hook in the logline to hook readers to check it out.

  11. I love the idea of a 140-character Tweetable logline! Yours are excellent 🙂

  12. Your loglines are amazing 🙂
    I need to get better at self promotion and realise that it’s okay to share sometimes. I tend to post a blog article or short story and either forget to re-tweet/promote or feel like I shouldn’t be promoting too much!

  13. Great loglines! I’m still not very good at tooting my own horn. I’m working on it though! Really enjoying the IWSG Book Club pick, James Scott Bell’s book on marketing for writers who hate marketing. 🙂

  14. Nice!! I command you for this. I need to be able to do this, and it’s harder than it looks. You make it looks like it’s easy! 😂 I totally agree. This is so important! Thanks for sharing your experience! Love it!

  15. You’re right! I’ll have to get to that part. (Ps: sorry for the typos – wrote this on my phone)

  16. Log lines are really hard to write. I usually do three of them of different lengths, and then I can use them for different purposes. I have a one sentence, two-sentence, and three-sentence log line. Very hard to write, but worth the time. And yes, if you’re not excited about your own book, who else will be? So toot away!

  17. Victoria Marie Lees

    Oh. My. Gosh! Your marketing blubs are fantastic! I’ve shared this post online. All the luck with your new book. It sounds great!

  18. Interesting. The term logline is new to me, but I’ve certainly tinkered with the concept. I can’t help but think of various movie posters I’ve seen with that one phrase, i.e. “God made him simple. Man made him a God.” -Lawnmower Man.

    I’ve found it very helpful to write loglines and paragraph premises for stories that have already been published. It grants me the opportunity to practice those specific skills more frequently than just writing them for my own stories, and they make a nice opening piece to a book review.

    • Loglines are definite tool to keep an author on track and then for telling someone–agent or publisher what the story is about.

      The quote for Lawnmower Man was a tagline line. Which is a catchy statement (like a jungle) that sticks with the movie, or book. Created for the sole purpose of promotion.

      Both are very important. 🙂

  19. Gosh! Clearly us, writers, want to talk about marketing. You’ve had a lot of comments already. Indeed, you are right. We cannot depend on the publisher to market our books. Even the big publishers do not spend time marketing individual authors (unless they’re famous).

    The one caveat, however, is to be careful not to hawk your book all the time. It becomes tiresome. Give people enough info that they want to read more. The log line is a great example for doing that.The blurb another or a book trailer.

    As for tweeting, I only share one tweet a day that talks about my books. The rest are content driven from tips I’ve written or tips from other writers.

    Thanks for this reminder to get that log line written, re-written, honed and tweaked!

  20. This is a great example for how a logline can be used for a tweet and bring a writer success during a pitch fest. 🙂

  21. I haven’t made it to this step, yet… I have heard that you should promote your book whenever you can (within reason) because you may be the only one who does after your work has been out for a while.

    Excellent advice! I can’t wait to use it. 🙂

  22. It was a very interesting article and White Lights sounds like a pretty cool book, you managed to make it sound very interesting even in a limited number of characters:3

  23. I think marketing, just like writing craft, is a constant learning experience. I first heard about the logline this summer. You have some great examples. One of the things I struggled with was realizing that it should focus on plot and not on the character growth arc. Developing one for the workshop although my manuscript is still in the first draft phase really helped crystallize the plot and focus my writing to push it forward.

  24. Marketing is so important, and I love the idea of fitting a logline into 140 characters. And the first one of your examples for White Light is amazing and I want to go out and pick this book up RIGHT NOW. Thanks for a great post! (And for a new addition to my TBR!)

  25. A good rule of thumb for short lines (if you have no clue where to start):

    When X happens, X must X or else X.

    Good ones can even hint at setting or character traits, especially in 35-word pitches 🙂

  26. I love your loglines – they definitely got my attention, especially #2.

  27. Excellent post! Loglines are the best, even if they’re just a jumping ground to build from. I always wonder how “exact” the logline/pitches are compared to plot, or how much is enticing readers through “close” phrasings that hint at the conflict loosely.
    Congratulations on your book sale! 🙂

    • For me it’s the core of the story For another opinion I’ll steal from Mica Scotti Kole. She said:

      When X happens, X must X or else X.

      Good ones can even hint at setting or character traits, especially in 35-word pitches.

  28. Great advice. I’m currently working on getting my logline for my WIP into a tweet.

  29. The problem is, it’s SO hard to “move the needle” with the little bit of reach we have. We can blog, go to conferences, do book fairs, etc…but the average booksigning sells eight books. Publishers have so much more power, but they choose to put their weight behind certain books. So we do the best we can, but in the end, it’s going to be word of mouth and whether or not readers like your book cover when they pick it up in the bookstore that makes the biggest difference.

  30. So important to be able to sell your work! The logline was tough for me 🙂
    Leslie

  31. I’m SO bad at crafting a tweet-length logline. I don’t know what it is? I think it’s because my head is so emerged in the story as a whole that their seems to much information to condense?

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