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What is a Synopsis and How Do I Write One?

How do I write a synopsis for my book?

How do I write a synopsis for my book?

At its most fundamental level, a synopsis answers the question:

What is this book about?

A synopsis should cover (in abbreviated form) all the major points of your book in sequential order from beginning
to end.

In a work of fiction, you’ll want to cover all the main characters and plot points, including the end.

Your synopsis will vary in detail according to the length required. Obviously a one page synopsis will provide much less detail than a 10 page synopsis.

While writing a synopsis is not complicated, it’s certainly not as easy as it might seem.

It takes time and effort to tell a long story in an dramatically shortened format.

 

It may help to know ahead of time that you may spend an entire afternoon, or even a couple days, crafting and polishing an articulate, well-written, one page synopsis. But with a little patience and persistence, the result will make the effort worthwhile.

Many times, your synopsis should only be a small paragraph, which is often even harder to write than a longer one. The best thing to do is write out a single page synopsis and then read through to find the main points and craft a few in varying length to have on hand for different purposes.

And remember, your synopsis is not the same as jacket-copy—which is sales copy for the back of your book to get people interested in purchasing—your pitch.

A synopsis is often used in submitting to editors, publishers, magazines, reviewers, etc., in order to provide the basic information of what the book is about. But, it’s also useful as a foundation for attracting readers, reviewers, and media outlets.

In other words, write your synopsis first – then use that to write shorter blurbs, summaries, and sales copy about your book – we even recommend you keep it on hand for social media posts.

Usually an editor or publisher asks for a synopsis and a pitch—these are two entirely different things.

To keep it easy:

  • A synopsis is a summary of your book—used primarily in the B2B sector of selling your book.
  • A blurb or jacket-copy is your pitch, or sales copy—used for the reader aspect of your book.
What's the difference between a blurb, pitch, jacket-copy, and a synopsis? How do I write one for my book?

A synopsis for fiction should be written similar to an essay, while being compelling—especially for sending to agents and publishers. It should be enticing, while giving the main points, but without being overly salesy.

Similarly for non-fiction, your synopsis is usually included in your proposal. The synopsis for non-fiction should also be written similar to an essay, with a clear beginning, middle, and end—showing the information being presented and answering the questions: How, Why, Where, What, When, etc.

For example, if presenting a “How To” book, you should clearly state things such as why your book is necessary, what problem your book solves, who your audience is, what your experience is, and where it differs from similar books.

For publishing non-fiction yourself, your synopsis can be brief and instead, show an outline of the chapters, covering the topic or subject matter covered in each chapter – which would be more geared toward your audience.

For children’s books, your synopsis doesn’t need to be more than a sentence or two.

You’ll also need to follow the guidelines presented by your agent or publisher if you’re submitting your work traditionally.

With writing a synopsis for your book – you first need to establish who is going to be reading it. Then you can decide how promotional it needs to be.

You should end up with several different blurbs and summarieskeep a file with all of them on hand for reference.

Use this file for social media posts, reviewers, and readers – and keep adding to it, especially with what works!

Have fun with it!

Have questions or need ideas? Feel free to connect and ask questions!

Need more help? This is a highly recommended book – How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis