My new novel, Magdalena’s Demons, is coming soon. Unlike nonfiction books, which often have subtitles, a novel doesn’t need one. It’s pretty common, though, to see book covers that say “a novel” after the title. I did some research, and apparently this moniker is called a “reading line,” not a subtitle. Its purpose is controversial, and it is more common in the US than in the UK. Some say it is a snooty way of making your book look literary, as if to say, “This is a classy novel, not pulp fiction.” In my struggle over the question of including a “reading line,” my goal is only to give potential readers some guidance on the book’s content.

Magdalena’s Demons is not a horror novel, though “demons” might suggest it is. It’s a historical novel set during the first century in Palestine. My main character is usually called Mary Magdalene, but she calls herself Magdalena in my book. It tells the love story of Magdalena and Jesus, whom she calls Yeshua. Therefore, it is a romance novel. Since it follows the main character on a spiritual journey and contains mystical elements such as visions and supernatural happenings, I could call it a spiritual or mystical novel. My beta-reader exclaimed about the love story in it, so basically the romance is paramount, and word on the street says that romance is the best selling genre. Better stick with “romance” then.

Maybe I should call it Magdalena’s Demons: a mystical romance. But is “a mystical romance” a subtitle or a reading line? Does anybody care?

Photo by Jonathan Borba on

2 thoughts on “Subtitle Blues

  1. PS I don’t believe the reading line is ever used with colons as are subtitles. That is, for library and bookstores designations, the reading line is never listed with the title on the copyright page or in in their databases, if I’m not mistaken.


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