One of the staples of sending any kind of manuscript to publishers is sending along a synopsis. Most publishers ask for one. There are many other steps in sending your packet to publishers, but let’s start with one item at a time.
A synopsis is not one of those page-long previews you read on the back of a book to peak your interest. A synopsis, in this case, is a marketing tool—a way to sell your story, writing prowess, and tone of the book to the publisher. Generally from a page to five pages long (unless specified by the publisher otherwise, I like to keep mine close to two pages), a synopsis is a document summarizing the plot points, characters, genre, and style of your book. The reason I mentioned that this differs from a book preview that you might read on the back of a book cover is this: you reveal everything. You don’t prance around important plot twists or leave the reader guessing how the main character might deal with a conflict at the conclusion of the book, the whole point of a synopsis is to explain, as true to character as you can, exactly who has main roles in the story, what the story is about, how it ends, and briefly explain all the clever little plot points that make your book good and worth a read. It’s a synopsis, a summary of your story.
Alright, now that we know what the spirit of a synopsis is, let’s go into detail of how to craft one. I’m a huge visual kind of guy. Because of that, I love when people just show me an example of the item in question. Below is a generic format of a synopsis that you can use to fill in the blanks with.
Optional: Word count, byline, genre, important contact info, etc.
Synopsis body (multiple paragraphs)
Get right into the plot and character lineup of your book with some great hook. You are writing to hook your reader, but remember, keep on target since the main point of the synopsis is to inform the reader of your book as a whole. Be as direct about sticking to explaining the plot, drive, and main conflict of your story as you can. They should know what your story is all about by reading this. Your synopsis should be written in third person and it should be in present tense. Generally, if my synopsis is over one page, I’ll double space my lines.
There’s a basic format. It’s a pretty straight forward document. I’ve got my synopsis for this book written up, but I’ll wait to post it until I’ve gotten the book signed. With luck, that’ll be sooner than later. Cove’s been pretty needy lately (go figure, babies are needy) so it’s been really tough to work on anything else.