As per my previous article, whilst I am a huge fan of self-publishing, it is important I offer advice on how to write a book synopsis.

Along with a section of your manuscript, the two things that most book publishing agents will ask for when taking submissions, is a cover letter and book synopsis. Book agents receive hundreds of manuscripts every single week, and therefore it’s essential that you can help your manuscript to stand out from the crowd. This is the only way to guarantee that they’ll read it.

In this blog, we’ll provide you with some top tips on how to write a book synopsis. 

What is a Book Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a term that you will normally hear associated with job application forms. It is a letter that precedes a CV or application form, introducing you and your skills to the employer. In this case, you need to introduce your work and who you are as an author, with a good cover letter.

When writing a book cover letter, one of the most important things to remember is to keep it fairly short. Your cover letter should consist of 2-3 paragraphs, with a 1 or 2 sentence summary of the book, your experience and why you wrote it. For example:

Dear Mr Rodgers,

I am seeking an agent for my first, Murder In The Valley. The novel, which is about 50,000 words, is a crime thriller set in 1960’s Poland. It tells the story of the love affair between two convicted murderers.

I am a 35 year old retail expert, who has been working on the book for a number of years. I took a Masters in Creative Writing at East Anglia University (where I began working on the novel). The novel is a loose adaptation of my own experiences during a previous trip to Poland, and those recounted to me by my Father. It deals with themes of loss, anger and love.

From looking at your profile, the type of clients that you deal with and the way in which you operate, I would really love the opportunity to work with you. I’d be very grateful if you could consider my manuscript and let me know your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Sanchez.

How To Write A Book Synopsis

A book synopsis is generally about 500 words in length, and provides a factual and clear breakdown of the events of a novel. In this section we will look at tips on how to write a book synopsis. 

Along with your cover letter and manuscript, a book synopsis will be a critical element in persuading the agent that your work is interesting enough to pursue. Normally, the agent will look at the cover letter first, and then if they are interested will read the manuscript, before reading the book synopsis. The reason for this is that a book synopsis gives the agent a better idea of what your whole plot is about, rather than just the quality and style of your writing/prose, as shown by the manuscript. Think about it like this:

-Your cover letter tells the agent who you are.

-The manuscript tells the agent how you write.

-The synopsis tells the agent what you write.

One mistake that many authors make when creating their synopsis, or learning how to write a book synopsis, is that they try to make the synopsis too descriptive or flowery. As strange as it may seem, the synopsis is meant to be boring.

While you can add 1 or 2 sentences to make it seem more interesting and exciting, the bottom line is that all the synopsis is there for is to give a clear overview of the plotline. Have you ever been onto Wikipedia, and read the synopsis for a book? While I’m not suggesting you use Wikipedia as a guideline, almost all (good) book synopses on the site will be factual and to the point, and that’s how you should approach your own.

Here are some top tips for creating a winning synopsis:

-Write your character names in bold. This will make it easy for the agent to understand who is who.

-If the book is extremely long, separate the synopsis into acts. For example, Act 1, Act 2 and Act 3. DON’T list every single chapter and every single event that happens within the chapter. Make sure it’s completely relevant to the plot as whole.

-Presentation. It goes without saying that you need to make sure your synopsis (and your cover letter) are presented and written well. This means checking grammar, spelling and punctuation as thoroughly as you possibly can before submission. Don’t expect agents to give your manuscript so much as a 2nd glance if the preceding documents haven’t been proofread properly.