This has been a bit of a slow week, so I thought I’d do another edition of Poorly Written headlines. It’s been a while since I did the first of these, so here’s a refresher on strategies to writing good press release headlines and sub-headlines.
What this headline does right:
- 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?