Poorly Written Headlines #4

This one was a sub-headline, but I still have issues with it.

Want to learn how to write good headlines? Check this out. Perhaps it’s time to write a post about creating good sub-headlines…

What this sub-headline does right:

  • Tells us the author’s purpose for writing the book… I guess?

What this sub-headline does wrong:

  • Takes a cliche expression and makes it blander.
  • Doesn’t actually tell us anything about the book.

History repeats itself, if we ignore history we are doomed to repeat it, etc. This sub-headline is essentially those cliche phrases except worded more poorly.

We can glean from this snippet (and the headline if you saw it), that this is for a historical novel. What type of history? That’s a mystery! (Not even the headline made that clear.) Maybe this book is really a detective caper where we have to guess which historical event it’s actually talking about, giving us clues along the way, but then there’s a big twist at the end!

The sub-headline of a press release is supposed to provide those little extra details that are just too wordy for a short snappy headline.

Here’s the how Google populates the press release I sent announcing that WoEM had been published. See that smaller text beneath the main headline? That’s officially called the meta description, but for a press release, that’s where the sub-headline would populate.

My sub-headline isn’t perfect, but it provides at least a little extra information. Notice how Google truncates it after about 150 characters? That makes it even more important that you front-load that summary with information that potential readers can act on.

What could be done differently:

Just rewrite the whole thing. Replace it with a description of the book, perhaps an actual piece of advice that could be taken from this mysterious history lesson. Or maybe tell us When and Where the book could be purchased.

As it currently reads, this sub-headline is effectively wasted space.

Steve D

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