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.
Tells us the author’s name and book title (both redacted)
Tells us the genre: action thriller
It’s at least 63 characters long (depending on the real author and title length), but the phrase parallel universe would likely be cut off in listing pages, so all we’re really left with is the Who and the What
What this headline does wrong:
Describes the book as taking place in a parallel universe
This headline is more of a statement than a news announcement. It reads as if it was pulled from a descriptive paragraph and slapped into the headline.
Why does it matter that this book takes place in a parallel universe? The vast majority of speculative fiction takes place in some form of alternate reality, whether it’s our universe with some weird shit happening, or a completely unique fantasy world.
Try searching for “parallel universe” on Google and you’ll get 500 million results. Add “books” to that search, and the top bar will show works by authors ranging from Pratchett, to Asimov, to Pullman. The book named in this headline is not competing with those names.
What could be done differently:
Basically, the back half of this headline is fluff; it has no real meaning, and it’s not doing the press release or the book it’s promoting any favors by being so generic.
Instead, the author could hint at why this parallel universe is interesting, or maybe provide a news announcement, such as the release date. Here’s an example without completely butchering the format:
[Author’s] exciting action thriller, [Book’s Title], will be Released this Summer!
It’s not perfect, but it provides some valuable information to the reader–they should check out this book and add it to their summer reading list.
What do you think? How would you make this headline pop more?
The day of reckoning has finally arrived. In just a few minutes, I’ll be heading down to DC for Awesome Con!
I have parking spots reserved for each of the next three days, and I got my books on time! These are the boxes I have to haul down there.
And here’s my actual merch, my newly printed matte-finish books and bookmarks!
I think the matte finish came out really well, even though it’s not as dark as the bookmarks–that was sort of the idea.
I have 35 books with me, which is probably way too many, but I wanted to have some extra anyway for whatever my next chance to meet readers will be.
I forewent buying flyers for “The Grand Mythos” or a banner, due to budget and time constraints (a.k.a., I’m unemployed, and I did not give myself enough time to prepare), so I printed some promo text on the back of these bookmarks.
I included a blurb for Aston and Jaed, a promo for “The Grand Mythos”, and some info on where people can find me. It’s not fancy, but it was easy to do and it gets the point across.
I’ll be posting pictures from the convention on my Imgur account: WardeOfEverfeld.
And I’m sure I’ll have tons to recap after the event. Today is an 8+ hour day, so I might be a wee bit tired. We’ll see.
Okay, no more delaying! I’m nervous and excited as hell. To Awesome Con!
Well, this week came up a lot faster than I had anticipated. We were off on our first road trip with Nugget for the last 10 days, visiting family in Michigan and Milwaukee. We had a great time, but now we’re back in the swing of normal life
Yesterday, I discussed how a bad press release headline can kill your book promotion efforts before they’ve begun. But I’d like to provide some actual examples of what headlines do right, and what they do wrong.
So here’s the first in what will be an ongoing series:
What this headline does right:
Gives the genre: science fiction adventure
Gives the intended audience: young readers
Tells us that this is a series of books, so either the author already has books published, or they intend to publish more, i.e., we should all keep paying attention to them
It’s concise, just 67 characters, meaning most of it will appear in search engine results pages
What this headline does wrong:
Describing the book as fabulous
What makes a book fabulous? What makes this specific book fabulous? Is it fabulously well-written? Is there fabulous characterization, or fabulous world-building? Is the plot fabulously paced?
Flowery adjectives can make a headline pop, but by leaving the description vague, this headline is effectively meaningless.
The first ten words tell me a lot about the What, which is great. But the final two give me no hint of Why I should care. Young adult sci-fi books are a dime a dozen right now, and this headline fails to stand out from the crowd.
That’s it for now. I’d be happy to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this headline or my critique. I’ll try to do one or two of these each month.