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How to Write a Book Synopsis That Sells

by | May 9, 2024

Content Manager

Ara Koetts

Ara Koetts, a leading voice at Voxtury.com, specializes in AI content creation, blending technology with creativity. Her insights into AI's impact on storytelling and ethical considerations make her a pivotal figure for anyone exploring digital innovation. Ara's work is a guiding light in the dynamic world of content creation, inspiring confidence and curiosity in her readers.

In the competitive world of publishing, where countless manuscripts vie for attention, the book synopsis emerges as a crucial tool in capturing the interest of literary agents, publishers and, ultimately, readers. As such, writing a compelling synopsis is not merely a formality as some might think – it’s a strategic endeavor that can make or break the success of your book.

Have you ever found yourself grappling with the daunting task of writing a book synopsis? Throughout this article, our aim is to guide you through the process of crafting a great synopsis that not only captures the essence of your story but also piques the interest of readers and industry professionals alike.   

So, whether you’re a newbie writer dreaming of your big break or a seasoned pro looking to polish your pitching skills, consider this article your roadmap to success. Let’s dive in and uncover the secrets to writing a book synopsis that sells!

What Is a Book Synopsis?

At its core, a book synopsis is a short summary that encapsulates the essence of a narrative, offering a glimpse into its plot, characters, and themes. Its primary purpose is to provide agents and publishers with a comprehensive overview of the manuscript, helping them gauge its marketability and potential appeal to readers. As such, it also has to reveal the ending.

In an industry overflowing with submissions, a well-crafted novel synopsis can be the difference between capturing an agent’s interest or being relegated to the slush pile. For readers, your synopsis serves as a preview of what awaits within the pages of a book, offering insight into its themes, tone, and narrative style.

You might have also heard the terms “blurb” or “summary” used interchangeably with book synopsis. These terms are similar but they serve different purposes. 

A synopsis provides an in-depth exploration of the narrative’s key elements, while a summary offers a brief overview. On the other hand, a blurb is a promotional snippet found on book covers or marketing materials, designed to entice readers with a tantalizing glimpse of the story without revealing too much.

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How Long Should a Book Synopsis Be?

You’ll find conflicting opinions on this matter, but we’ll try to come up with an exhaustive answer. Overall, it can range from 300 to 800, or 500 to 1000 words. It will depend on the length of your novel and the submission requirements set by agents or publishers.

For starters, we suggest writing 2 sample synopsis documents – one that’s about 1 page in length, and 2 pages for the other. Anything up to 2 pages should be acceptable but keep in mind that most agents and editors are unlikely to read a synopsis that’s longer than a couple of pages.

How to Format Your Book Synopsis

When writing your book synopsis, make sure it follows the format we provided below:

  • Title page: [Book Name] Synopsis, for example, It
  • Underneath the title: By Author Name, For example, By Stephen King
  • Line spacing: Single-spaced for 1.5 page and double spacing for 2 or more pages
  • Font size: 12 point
  • Font type: Times New Roman or Arial
  • Paragraphs: Indented
  • Margin size: 1-inch
  • Page numbers: Top right-hand side

Note: This is a standard format that’s commonly used for a book synopsis. However, you still need to check your agent’s submission requirements and align with them. We can’t let format issues stand in the way of getting your book published!

How to Write a Book Synopsis – Step-By-Step Guide

Let’s get down to business… to write a book synopsis that will help you turn your manuscript into a bestseller. Below, you’ll find our step-by-step guide on how to write a novel synopsis.

  1. Start with a Hook

Begin your synopsis with a compelling hook that grabs the reader’s attention and entices them to continue reading. This could be a thought-provoking question, an intriguing statement, or a vivid description of a key moment in your story.

  1. Introduce the Main Characters

Briefly introduce the main characters of your book, including their names, backgrounds, and motivations. Focus on the protagonist and other central characters who drive the plot forward.

  1. Summarize the Plot

Provide a concise summary of the main events and plot points of your book, focusing on the most significant moments that keep the story going. Highlight the central conflict, key turning points, and major obstacles the characters face.

  1. Convey the Tone and Style

Capture the tone and style of your book in your synopsis, whether it’s suspenseful, humorous, romantic, or thought-provoking. Use language that reflects the mood and atmosphere of your story – but stick to the essential details and focus on the core narrative.

  1. Edit and Revise

Once you’ve drafted your novel synopsis, take the time to edit and revise it carefully – you can use an online text editing tool for that! Check for clarity, coherence, and grammatical accuracy, ensuring that every word counts and contributes to the overall impact of your synopsis.

  1. Seek Feedback

Share your book synopsis with trusted friends, family members, or fellow writers for feedback and constructive criticism. Use their insights to refine your synopsis further and make it as polished and compelling as possible.

Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Book Synopsis

Writing a book synopsis that sells requires finesse and attention to detail. Here are some essential dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

Dos:

  • Highlight Unique Aspects: Showcase what sets your story apart from the crowd, whether it’s a unique premise, captivating characters, or an unexpected twist.
  • Maintain Suspense: Keep readers intrigued by hinting at the central conflict and stakes without revealing all the plot twists.
  • Keep It Concise: Aim for brevity while still conveying the essence of your story. Focus on the main plot points and avoid unnecessary details.
  • Match the Tone: Ensure that the tone and style of your synopsis align with that of your book, giving agents and publishers a taste of what to expect.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your synopsis with beta readers or critique partners to gather valuable insights and refine your approach.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t Include Spoilers: Avoid giving away major plot twists or the ending of your book, as this can diminish the reader’s interest.
  • Don’t Be Vague: Provide enough detail to give agents and publishers a clear understanding of your story without being overly cryptic.
  • Don’t Oversell: While it’s essential to highlight the strengths of your book, avoid exaggeration or hyperbole in your synopsis.
  • Don’t Include Subplots: Stay focused on the main storyline and primary characters, omitting any unnecessary subplots or secondary characters.
  • Don’t Forget to Edit: Take the time to carefully edit and revise your synopsis for clarity, coherence, and grammatical accuracy before submission.

Book Synopsis Example

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – in other words, after all this talk, we’ll show you some real-life novel synopsis examples. We chose a novel you’re probably familiar with (and if you haven’t read it, you probably watched its movie adaptation).

Give it a read and see why it works:

Synopsis Example 1

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The story begins amidst the Reaping for the 74th Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen is consumed by worry for her childhood friend Gale, who has entered his name into the Games to secure extra food for his family. In a society where the starving often trade “entries” for food vouchers, increasing their likelihood of being chosen, Katniss’s concern deepens. Meanwhile, her beloved younger sister, Prim, has just reached the eligible age for the Games. Despite Katniss’s reassurances to Prim that she won’t be chosen, fate intervenes, and Prim’s name is called. Knowing that Prim stands little chance of survival, Katniss volunteers as tribute, determined to save her sister.

Upon their arrival in the Capitol, Katniss and her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark, undergo training under the guidance of their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy. Katniss’s remarkable proficiency with a bow and arrow, coupled with her audacious spirit, catches the eye of potential sponsors. However, Katniss remains reluctant to engage in the Capitol’s manipulative game.

During a televised interview on the eve of the Games, Peeta shocks Panem by professing his love for Katniss. Initially infuriated by what she perceives as a ploy for sponsors, Katniss later discovers the sincerity behind Peeta’s declaration.

In the arena, Katniss initially prefers to be on her own but is targeted by career tributes due to her skills. When the Capitol announces that tributes from the same district can both win, she seeks out Peeta. Katniss pretends to return Peeta’s affections and they stage a romance to win them the favor of sponsors. When Katniss and Peeta are the only tributes remaining in the arena, the Capitol changes the rules again, demanding one victor. Katniss feigns a suicide attempt with Peeta, forcing the Capitol to declare them both winners.

The story wraps up with the president of Panem enraged by Katniss’s defiance, Peeta wounded by Katniss’s feigned affection in the arena, and Katniss pondering whether she’ll ever achieve the freedom she so tirelessly pursued.

Why It Works?

Within a mere 325 words, the synopsis for “The Hunger Games” effectively outlines the main events of the plot. It clearly portrays Katniss’ motivations and personality, captivating readers and providing insight into her actions and emotional journey.

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Final Words for New Authors

And there you have it – the ins and outs of crafting a stellar book synopsis! Writing a synopsis may seem daunting at first, but remember, it’s your chance to showcase the heart and soul of your story in just a few short pages. 

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out on your literary journey, embrace the process, and don’t forget to have fun along the way. After all, writing is an adventure, and your novel synopsis is just the beginning of the exciting journey ahead.

So go ahead, pen those words, polish that book synopsis, and get ready to share your story with the world. You’re a couple of hundred words away from publishing a bestseller – make it count!

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