Websites, tag lines, and titles, oh my!

PJ Sharon here today, and I’m asking for your help with some of my more immediately pressing concerns. First off, prioritizing my duties as an indie-published author and entrepreneur is challenging to say the least. There are many moving parts to this job and I wear more hats than guests at a royal wedding.
While I await my second round of edits for WESTERN DESERT, I have time to work on my marketing strategy for the release next month. Priorities include scheduling a short blog tour, setting up an advertising budget for paid ads, a possible launch party of some sort, sending out press releases, and finishing my back cover copy and art. The list goes on, but sometimes, I just need to let my instincts take over and tell me what is most important for the day.

Of course, writing this blog is always on my Sunday to-do list—though it often falls over to Monday night at midnight—but today I was talking to my DH about a new website. Those of you who know me, know that I have talked about switching over to a WordPress site for my website and blog for at least the past year. Currently, I have a blog on Blogger and I have a website that I love, but it has some significant limitations. My Circle Pad site, which I pay the requisite $8.95 a month for hosting, has some quirks that make it not compatible with Apple products for one. Search engine optimization is lacking, and the interface, as user friendly as it is to work with, is antiquated and doesn’t stand up to today’s market equivalents. Even with all of that, I have resisted switching to WordPress because,

a.) I’m tech-phobic and,

b.) I can’t seem to make decisions about details such as colors, design, theme, or whether to go with .org or .com?

In a come-to-Jesus moment, I have decided to just suck it up and do it! No matter how overwhelmed I feel, the website change is a must-do. In forcing the issue, I have come to realize that part of what holds me back is that I still haven’t clearly identified my brand. I’ve gotten as far as to say, “I write romance fiction for teens and beyond,” but other than that I don’t really know what defines me as a writer these days.

This brings me to my second dilemma of the day:

Should I change my tag-line, and what should I change it to? My first three books, being contemporary YA romance with hopefully ever after endings fit fine with my “Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life” tag line. But now that I have added dystopian to my repertoire, “average” doesn’t seem suitable—not for genetically altered teens in a futuristic setting. There is still a romance, but the story clearly fits in the YA category of dystopian fiction rather than upper YA/NA stories. Romance readers are not necessarily sci-fi readers and vice versa, so I feel like maybe I need to change my image a bit to reach out to a broader audience. It occurs to me that maybe I’m having trouble pinpointing my target readership because I haven’t truly discovered my “hook”—that message in our style and voice that makes us unique and offers readers the promise of something different.

Once I understand what makes my stories extraordinary, and have narrowed down my tagline to who I am and what I write, then the web design should be easier. I also just finished taking an online web-design course to get me over my tech-fear, and DH has vowed to help me get set up on a WordPress site by the end of June when I launch Book Two in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, WESTERN DESERT.

This takes us to my third issue of the day, month, year…a title for the third book in the trilogy. Here are the parameters:

1) Title must be in adjective/noun format (Waning Moon, Western Desert)

2) It would be nice to keep with the “W” alliteration, but I’m not attached to that.

3) The title should reflect that Lily and Will are embarking on the final stage of their journey across a post-apocalyptic US. This time they are leaving Las Vegas and heading east along the southern route, which will take them through the Southern Swamps. (I already thought of that as a title but I think that would only work if there were a fourth book since this one will culminate in the final battle with the Industry and will take place in Chicago and then Vegas again. I do wish I had made it a series and not a trilogy…another lesson learned.)

4) Basically, I want a title that sounds catchy alongside the other two, is different enough to not be competing with a dozen other books by the same title, and one that metaphorically shows the shift to a hopeful ending rather than a title that focuses on gloom and doom.

These are a few of my ideas. I’d love to hear yours!

CHANGING/SHIFTING/RISING TIDES (you get the drift)
SHIFTING/RISING WINDS
STORM SURGE
HEALING WINDS

Thanks in advance for any help, advice, or suggestions!

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35 thoughts on “Websites, tag lines, and titles, oh my!”

  1. Paula, your post poses good questions. But how about exchanging a few of those hats for assistants to handle some of those tasks? To delegate is a good thing. Especially for website design and to know what sells.

    Why choose .com? How will your viewers access your site? If they are going to type your company name into the URL bar and hit enter, then the .com domain is easier to remember.

    Your brand. Teenage stories. Right? Differentiate yourself from the competition. Make your tagline reflect your writing business personality image. You want a tagline that resonates with your audience. A brand needs to give itself time for a tagline to marinate before anyone can truly understand what it means to its audience. What is it about the teen that would speak loud and clear w/o using the term “teenage?” Can you pick a sentence from your stories and make it one short quippy sentence? Like: Ain’t No Puppy Love.

    Best of luck. The journey is fun!

    1. All great advice, Gail. I’m leaning toward the .com version of wordpress for the reasons you mentioned. It won’t afford me as much flexibility and customization as a .org site, but it’s free and probably easier to set up. I would love an assistant but budget is a factor, and finding the right someone who won’t require a lot of hand holding is huge. I’ve hired out tasks like setting up a blog tour in the past, but didn’t have great results. The blogs weren’t focused enough for my genre and I think that makes a difference. I’d love to have someone research and find me a handful of reader-centric, genre appropriate blogs. Research is definitely one of the biggest time sucks for me.

      If you haven’t researched web design lately, we’re talking about anywhere from $500 to $2000 to design a site. I just took a course hoping I’d get all the info I needed to do it myself, but even though the course helped with things like rule of thirds, color choice, white space considerations and layout/design options, I still can’t make up my mind. I’ve spent so much time developing my current website that the thought of starting over makes me nauseous. I need a site that I can administrate and easily make changes to, so it looks like wordpress is the standard. My husband is in research mode for me and has promised to help me get up and running, so we’ll see how that goes. Thanks for the input!

      1. WOW! You will benefit from the “doing it yourself” but it is a hard call. It’s good you have a willing, wonderful husband. It is expensive to have a pro as an assistant. And the cheapie ones don’t have the what-appeals-to-a-wide-audience experience.

  2. Hi Paula,
    I believe you can change your tag line. Rather than have your tag line fit a certain book or series, why not focus on making your tag line fit your writing style. This way your readers will always know what to expect from each and every book you write. Hope this helps.

    1. I’m thinking the same thing, Gerri. Something like…”Writing teen stories with hopefully ever after endings.” But that–and everything else I’ve come up with–sounds lame, LOL. I’m counting on the collective creative juices of my writer buddies to help me out here:-)

  3. Hi PJ!
    Average in your tag line needs to go. No one wants to read average anything. You write real. You write gritty YA. Real teens over average.

    I struggle with titles as well. Some ideas: Waging War,Wicked Wind.
    Hugs and best to you on these tough questions.

    1. I hear you, Sandy. Time to change it up for sure. Thanks for stopping in and making suggestions. I’m taking notes!

  4. Have you looked at weebly.com for very inexpensive DIY websites and blogs? Super easy to use. I paid webmaster for YEARS and it was a huge slow-down between me and my readers, having to go thru a 3rd party every dang time i wanted any tiny update. My weebly site is maybe not as fancy, but it’s easy, I can do everything myself, it’s very affordable, and their customer svc is great. If you want tosee what i’ve done with my sites i have two: http://www.gaelenfoley.com and http://www.egfoley.com for my romance and kidlit pen names. 🙂

    BTW, i looove the suggestion of a tagline from Gail above. That’s how it’s done!! (As someone who has paid tons of money to marketing experts, too. lol.)

    No suggestions on your titles. Not my forte! 🙂

    1. Thank you Gael. I’ll check out Weebly again, but I think there were some limitations that made me nix it as an option. Your sites look great, though.

  5. How about Waking Liberty? Or Waking Dawn ( and I know that rhymes with another popular vampire series, but I couldn’t resist). Or Tempest’s Torn. Wild Winds. Gale Force.

    If I think of more, I’ll shoot you an e-mail.

  6. I have a complaint about WordPress websites. My host keeps shutting it down when I get too much traffic when spammed by garbage websites. Being me. I need my webguy to step in and fix it. Very frustrating.
    Tag line. YA with an edge.

    1. I hadn’t heard that about WordPress, Marian. I’ll have to check into that. I like, “YA with an edge,” but I think I’ve seen that one before. I’ll google it:-)

  7. I use webs.com. It’s cheap. I can do everything myself and I love the look of my site. I’m paying more than you are but way way less than with a professional web designer. Check it out.

  8. PJ, I like malanouette’s suggestion of “YA with an edge” since you’ve added dystopian stories. Also like Waking Liberty and Wild Winds for titles.

    I’m also thinking of switching my website to WordPress from basic HTML, but since I already have hosting will go with WP.org. If you can figure out the WP stuff yourself, you just need one graphic for your header which shouldn’t be that expensive. I took Tina Pavlik’s class on Word Press, Self-hosted through theromancestudio.com last year and ended up with a 2-inch 3-ring binder full of material. Just a matter of finding time to plunge in and try to figure it all out. Good class though and quite affordable. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like she’s teaching it this year.

    Good luck with your changes. No one said this would be easy, and it sure isn’t!

  9. Hi PJ,

    The tag line is a tough one. I took the YARWA marketing class last year and it really helped. In that class I came up with my tagline ~ LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. TRUST YOUR HEART. Most of my stories are contemporary, but I do have a ghost story and a post virus/apocalyptic story I want to write so I had to come up with something that encompassed all of my heroines/heroes and their journey.

    I like YA with an edge, also HEA was in my head so I was thinking of combining it into something like ~ YA WITH AN EDGE AFTER. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but maybe mixing/combing the best of the suggestions might be your answer.

    On the website I’m very new and not yet published, but I went with wordpress. I’m getting by, but I’m thinking I’ll take a course on Savvy when one comes up to help out. They a beg & adv so I want to take both next time they come around 🙂

    Good luck and keep us posted ~ René

    1. Thanks, Rene. I’ll start writing down words that describe what I write and what best demonstrates my writing style, and see what comes up.

  10. Oops, I forgot I came up with an idea for the title too. When I read your blog post Wandering was in my head so my idea of an adj/noun combo is WANDERING RESOLVE. To me this pulls together the journey they go on, the resolve to the end of the trilogy, and also satisfies the W requirement 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Stacey. I like Waking Dawn, too, but don’t know if it’s too close to “Breaking Dawn.”

  11. I like Gail’s suggestions. I also like Ya with an Edge. But in case it was already in use I looked up edge, different and twist in my Thesaurus to see if there was another word you could use but meant the same. Alas nothing good popped out. You might want to look up different words to see it something hits.

    I like Waking Liberty but, to me, that sounds like it should have been the title for book 1 or 2 since they would have started to try and find freedom.back then.

    Let’s quickly jot the first things that come to mind, knowing some (most) are really going to suck but others might give you an idea to work with. Okay? Have your pen/keyboard ready? Start!

    Wagered Souls Winged Quest
    Unbroken Trail Wholly Beliefs
    Changing Winds Whirling Changes/Fate
    Whispered Hope/Fate

    Sorry but I’m not doing too well at free writing today. Hope it helped a little bit.

    1. Ack it combined the suggestions! It’s suppose to be:
      Wagered Souls
      Winged Quest
      Unbroken Trail
      Wholly Beliefs
      Changing Winds
      Whirling Changes/Fate
      Whispered Hope/Fate

  12. I like Waging War and Whispered Hope for the book titles. As for series vs. trilogy – it’s your books and you are in control of the publishing. You could change it if you wanted. I’m sure your readers would like more of these books. I know I loved the first and am waiting on the second.

    I also like YA with an Edge for the tagline. But I don’t know that it completely encompasses you and your writing. But I’m not really good at coming up with tag lines. It took me forever it seems to come up with “Where Reality and Fiction Collide” and I’m still not 100% on it. I think it’s okay to change it as we change and grow within our craft.

    I’m self hosted and use a wordpress theme. I have a lot more options than just using the free wordpress.com site. It’s easy to use (for the most part). There’s a slight learning curve but really – if I can do it anyone can. It’s under $40/year. I can find out exactly how much if you’re interested.

    Good luck with everything!

    1. Thanks so much for the valuable input, Rhonda. I like Whispered Hope, too but don’t know if it sounds too frou-frou for a dystopian story, LOL. The term “edgy” in YA seems to indicate really dark themes, profanity, sex, abuse, and drug use. I don’t know that I would go as far as to say my books fit in with “edgy YA”. They are “gritty” and fit into that category, but I don’t love the word as part of my tag line. My books all have an uplifting message and I want that reflected in my tag line. I’m thinking something like, “Writing YA romance because every teen deserves a hopefully ever after.”

  13. Goodness! No title yet? Me niether (using nook… can’t spell) I agree with Miss Rhonda, Waging War, and Whispered Hope… or Whispered Fate (YES! THAT’S MY FAVORITE!) I didn’t know there was a wordpress .org until I joined a GR group of teen bloggers. It was all like WordPress VS Blogger! I don’t know, it seems you don’t really like your current site, it also seems you don’t want WordPress either… hm…

  14. I’m honing in on a title! I also decided on the wordpress.com. My husband is helping me set it up. We’ll see how it comes out. I’ve had a Blogger site for my monthly blog updates about what’s happening. I like Blogger, but not for a website. It has lots of limitations that make it less than user friendly. I plan to shut it down once I’m up and running at WP. Thanks for stopping in, No.1

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