In the past taglines were generally used for movies. Science fiction films in particular often feature very memorable taglines. Off the top of my head I think of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (“We are not alone”), Dune (“A world beyond your experience, beyond your imagination”), Total Recall (“They stole his mind, now he wants it back”), Jurassic Park (“An adventure 65 million years in the making”), and Alien (“In space, no-one can hear you scream”).
In recent years novels seem to be increasingly released with taglines. For example, Anthony Horowitz employed them with his Alex Rider and The Power of Five series. “Adrenaline, action, adventure” is a tagline used for the entire Alex Rider series, whilst “Darkness waits on the other side” is the tagline for Raven’s Gate, the first instalment of The Power of Five.
Some articles I’ve read claim taglines are a must for authors, as they are “like a publicist that never sleeps”. However, I’ve only released one book so far with a tagline, Love vs Honour, last year. Perhaps because that novel was so far removed from the genre fiction I normally write, it hasn’t been very successful so far, although those who have taken the time to read it have enjoyed it.
The tagline for Love vs Honour is “Two Religions. Two Deceptions. One Love”. This essentially summarises the premise, with a boy and a girl from Christian and Islamic backgrounds respectively falling in love, and undertaking an elaborate deception designed to placate both sets of disapproving parents, whereby one pretends to convert to Islam and the other to Christianity.
I quite like this tagline. However, in my case it has hardly been a “publicist that never sleeps”. Indeed, my most successful novel to date by far, Children of the Folded Valley, had no tagline. Will I use taglines in the future? If I can think of a good one, yes. But I certainly don’t expect them to act as a magic spell for success.