How To Write A Book Synopsis: Tips & Techniques

How To Write A Book Synopsis: Tips & Techniques“The synopsis is your sales pitch. Think of it as the jacket blurb of your novel (the synopsis is often used in writing this, and by the publisher’s art and advertising departments, if the novel is purchased), and write it as though you’re trying to entice a casual bookstore browser to buy the novel and read it,” says Marg Gilks

The synopsis of a book is a tool for pitching and selling the book. It is a narrative summary of your book written in the same style and voice that makes your novel interesting and gripping. In a way, it’s like a miniature version of your book because it should include all the important aspects of the story in sequence and maintains the urgency and emotion of the story.

You want to give the person reading your synopsis (an editor or agent perhaps) a sense of the setting, tone, and pace of your novel as well as a clear sense of the book’s genre and theme. When someone has read your book synopsis they should understand what the story is about, who the main characters are and why we care about them, what those characters want and why they want it, what is at stake if they don’t get what they want, what or who is in the way of those desires, and how it all turns out.

When you write the synopsis of a book remember that it should tell the entire story, even how the story ends. It does not include cliffhangers or teasers. Instead, it reveals the significant events and motivations that drive the story forward.

You should write the synopsis in present tense and third person. The first time you introduce your main characters, type the name in capital letters. Do this only the first time and thereafter refer to the character in the same way by the same name to avoid confusion. Define the conflicts these face and develop a sense of sympathy for your characters that allows the reader to relate to your characters and invokes compassion. Follow the course of the story through logical transitions and connected paragraphs. Be aware of any themes or symbolism you’ve focused on in your book and pinpoint the important plot points, the significant events, and the way these affect your characters.

There are two ways to write a book synopsis. Some writers begin with the synopsis, detailing their plot points and writing out their projection in the planning stages of their novel. This gives you a firm foundation and outline for your book that can help guide your progress. When the book is finished the original synopsis can then be adjusted to accommodate any changes that may have occurred through the writing process.

The other involves reading through the finished manuscript and making notes to fill out a synopsis as one of the final stages before submitting your manuscript to agents and editors.

Finally, before you send your synopsis to an agent or editor be aware of any specific instructions or guidelines they may have. Some editors prefer short, single-spaced synopses while others prefer longer synopses that are double-spaced. The length of a book synopsis can range from one to twenty pages with many agents preferring approximately five pages. Marg Gilks says, “I personally consider two pages ideal, and have distilled synopses down to a single tight page.”

Take the time to edit your synopsis for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Your synopsis should be as carefully edited as your manuscript and contain as few errors as possible. Do not rush the process. Your book’s synopsis will stand in for your manuscript and represents you as a writer to the editor.

The synopsis of your book will become a great tool for you after your book is finished. Especially if you are writing a sequel or series of books that will focus on the same characters or similar situations.

The real test of your synopsis is how it hooks the reader. Just as you carefully craft the first sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter of your novel you need to bring the same passion and conviction when you write your book’s synopsis.

Writing a synopsis can feel harder than writing the book. But if you remember the tips and techniques we’ve talked about and put it into practice writing synopses of your own books, stories, or even the books other authors have written, you’ll gain experience and confidence in condensing a novel-length manuscript into a few pages.

Do you have any other synopsis writing tips? Share your own techniques in the comments below and if you’d like to learn more check out Jane Friedman’s Webinar at Writer’s Digest and these two great books:
The Dreaded Synopsis: A writing and plotting guide by Elizabeth Sinclair Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract: The Complete Guide to Writing Query Letters, Synopses and Proposals for Agents and Editors by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook

Publishers and Publishing: Next Step – Finding A Publisher

For the past while, you wrote, and wrote, then wrote some more. Now as you FINALLY wrote “The End” to that story of yours you sit back, give yourself a pat on the back then stare at the first draft of your finished manuscript. The thought arises in your tired mind “Oh crap! What do I do now?”.

If you have the same type of mindset as I do then you obviously know that the first step is screaming “TIME TO PARTY!”, because come on, you just completed that one piece into which you poured your heart and soul. That alone is a big accomplishment and you deserve to celebrate over it.

Now after you celebrate and get over that annoying hang over you must have received, it’s time for you to take that next important step (after editing of course): Searching for a Publisher.

I am currently working on this step and I am fortunate enough to have people in my life to hold my hand along the way as this step can be scary. It’s not easy for a writer to send off their baby to strangers to be gawked, poked and prodded upon by “experts”. However it is a step that all writers (who want to be published) need to take.

So let’s take this step together. Seriously I am going to keep you all updated with how things are going on my end and I would love to have you join me and keep me updated on your end.

The first step I’m taking next is: Finding a Publisher. Some writers, particularly novelists might consider finding an agent rather than submitting directly to publishers. Some publishers do not accept manuscripts that are not represented by an agent but many do and some writers prefer to begin the search here.

There are plenty of tools out there to help you all with finding a great publisher. However these days the most important and safest tool to use would be the Writer’s Market book and/or website. If you have not heard about the Writer’s Market it is a list of all the publishers with information about what they are looking for with your submission along with contact information. This is a book and/or website that benefits every writer.

Go through the long list and choose about five that interest you AND will represent your type of writing. The best way to see if a publisher will represent your story (besides looking at the submission guidelines which is VERY important to do) is by looking and/or reading the books they have published.

Now that you have your list, post it somewhere you will see everyday and pat yourself on the back. You have now just completed the next step toward being published.

What’s next? You’ll just have to stay tuned for more of my articles to find out.

Note: I told you all that I would do this all with you, so here is my list.

    Three small ebook companies:

  1. Muse It Up Publishing
  2. Damnation Books
  3. Etopia Press

Support And Sounding Boards – Share Your Unfinished Work

The value of support, and a sounding board, during the writing process can be immeasurable.  While there are writers who keep their work locked in a vault of secrecy until the first (sometimes second and third) draft is finished, I am not one of them. I have never been able to complete a chapter without support, feedback, constructive criticism, and encouragement from advance readers.

Call it artistic insecurity, or call it vanity, but I get a little boost when I hear, “Wow that rocked!”. The enthusiasm of advance readers can be just the kick in the rear you need to keep going. I often (no less than three times a day) and like many other writers think, “Why am I writing this?  Have I completely lost my mind?” The backing and encouragement of a trusted friend reminds my of my motives for writing. I write to be read.

Sharing what you write when you are at the top of your game can come in handy when your self esteem takes a dive, too. Your advance readers can reignite your enthusiasm and excitement. When you face that nasty bout of writer’s block they’re there to push you to keep writing. When the work knocks you on your rear they’re there to pull you to your feet and dust you off.

My favorite thing about the champions of my writing is their never tiring of willingness to brainstorm with me. They don’t mind reading the same paragraph twelve times. Sometimes it’s just a thought or word they share that spurs my imagination. A five minute conversation can turn into three thousand words and a captivating new plot twist.

A true advocate will also spread the word when your work is done. He’ll back it as if it were their own.  Friends will feel a sense of shared ownership and pride in the finished product and be eager to help you market the work.

Without the supporters who spend countless hours reading, critiquing, and loving my work, I’m not sure I could have finished my first novel, let alone plunged into the ones that followed.

What are some of the other ways you stay inspired? Who do you trust with your work before it’s finished? What do your advance readers do for you?

If you haven’t shared your work yet, I highly recommend it, and I guarantee a smile.

The Opinions, Critiques, and Reviews of Advance Readers

I already had this thought bouncing in my head when I logged on this morning. It’s why I logged on to make a post. Before I wrote it down, though, I had to go peek at the headlines of the other blogs I follow, and thought it was funny that Time of Nervous Waiting was sitting out there approaching this from a very different perspective. It’s not really a parallel, more like a perpendicular. (And that, folks, is about all the geometry I know).

Anyway…as I started writing this, I realized it needed to be two posts – one rife with opinion, and the other more advice-based. This is the advice half – you’ll need to hop over to my personal blog to read the opinion half.

When I first get a story idea – when it’s bouncing around in my skull and begging to be listened to – it’s in the format I want it to be in. It’s the story I want to hear, and it’s got the characters I want it to have. Frequently it even makes it into first draft form that way. And if I was only writing for me, it would stay that way forever. To say that I dislike revising my work would be a gross understatement.

But I’m not just writing it for me. I want other people to see my work. I want it to speak to them the way the original idea spoke to me, and I want to evoke emotions and build worlds that allow them to escape, even if it’s only for a little while. That, and I love the rush that comes from seeing my name in print.

That means during the revision process, I have to make changes and tweaks so the story appeals to other readers. I have to clarify things that make sense to me only because it’s my world. I have to edit, refine, define characters, and pour depth into the original thought. I don’t think like other people – everyone thinks differently, I’m not unique in that regard – so that means I need help figuring out what components are missing, convoluted, unneeded, you get the point.

If you’ve ever heard that you should have people read your work and give their opinions before you submit it, it’s true. That’s not advice you can ignore. I envy those writers who have a wide enough circle of friends that they can get honest feedback from people they know in real life. That doesn’t mean mom tells you it’s wonderful and gives you another piece of apple pie. It means George in accounting spends the bus ride home pouring over your words and then says, “Why did your protagonist jump? Where’s the passion in your relationship? And by the way, I absolutely loved your spy agency; it was so real to me.”

Even though George in accounting doesn’t care one way or the other for my angels, I’m fortunate enough to belong to two online critique groups that do exactly that for me. I don’t always agree with their opinions, but I wouldn’t be what I am today without them. Two and a half years ago when I first ‘met’ some of them, I thought my work was ready to go to press tomorrow. Yeah…it wasn’t. I would have gone through rounds and rounds of rejections from publishers and agents and never known why if I hadn’t learned to listen to them, and trust my own instinct about which advice to take and when.

I guess the point is – even if you’re the next George Orwell, William Shakespeare, or Danielle Steele – don’t believe it until you can find opinions you trust to confirm it. It may take some digging, but there are people out there who want to read and give advice on what you’ve written. If there weren’t, you wouldn’t have a market for your story, right? After all, that first draft is for you, the final draft is for everyone else.

Where do you go for opinions, reviews, and critique of your writing?

Should You Ever Write “On Spec?”

Many established writers give new writers this advice: Never, ever write “on spec.”

Is this good advice? First, let’s define the term. “On spec,” short for “on speculation,” means:

  1. You don’t have a contract
  2. The editor never promised to use the piece or pay you for your work
  3. There’s no guarantee your work will be published.

Essentially, you’re “speculating” in the financial sense. A speculator is one who takes large financial risks in the hopes of even larger returns. Except, in writing, the returns usually aren’t significantly above average. (You’re probably not going to make six figures on one article). Then again, neither is the risk. You’re taking a chance that the editor will like you’re work enough to publish it and pay you for it. The risk is the time you invest in the article with no guarantee of pay. The rewards are:

  • Getting paid for the article
  • Getting your foot in the door at a quality publication, even if you may not have relevant clips to convince the editor to give you the assignment with a contract
  • Creating a relationship with that editor, which could lead to more work

If you build a career as a freelance writer doing business this way, you could lose a lot of time. And time = money. But sometimes writers submit “on spec” and don’t even realize it.

If you write for a content publisher like Demand Studios, you’re writing on spec. You’re work might be rejected or sent back for a rewrite. By the same token, if you write for a magazine that doesn’t give you a contract (and you don’t submit one yourself), you’re writing on spec. If you write for a magazine that offers a contract but doesn’t offer a kill fee if your work isn’t published — that’s the same as writing on spec, because the editor can reject your work and you won’t get paid.

Different Levels of “On Spec” Writing

There are different levels of writing “on spec,” some with a greater risk than others. If you query an editor and he says he’d like to see the article, but offers no promise of publication and no kill fee, that’s “on spec.” However, the risk is relatively low, since the editor has expressed interest. On the other hand, if you submit an article without a query, this is called an “unsolicited submission.” Some publications don’t accept unsolicited submissions at all. Others will consider them, but there’s less of a chance of acceptance, because the editor hasn’t asked for the piece. I often write articles after an editor has accepted my query, but it’s very rare I’ll ever submit an unsolicited submission. What if the editor has something similar in the works for the next issue? He won’t use my piece and I’ve wasted my time, when a short query would have clarified the matter and I could have come up with a different angle or submitted my idea to a different publication.

When to Write “On Spec”

I’d like to tell new writers, “Never write on spec. Always demand a contract with a kill fee equal to at least 50% of the price of the article.” But that’s not always practical. As a magazine editor, my publishers wrote contracts that were non-negotiable. I didn’t have the budget to pay for articles I couldn’t print. If the writer didn’t follow the assignment or the quality of the work didn’t reflect the quality of the query, I had the right to reject the piece. As the editor/client/customer, I have a right to satisfactory work.

It’s always worth asking about kills fees, especially with startup magazines or magazines that seem to be on shaky financial footing, but, like any financial speculator, you need to weigh the risks against the opportunity and rewards. If the editors of Cosmopolitan or Oprah or Parenting magazines say they want to see an article based on my query, I’m not going to quibble about a kill fee. I’m going to write the best article I can and expect them to publish it.

If I were a beginning writer with no clips to my name, I’d write on spec if:

  • the publication seems to have staying power and a solid reputation
  • I can use the work elsewhere if they turn it down
  • the article is likely to lead to other assignments and opportunities, with that publication or others

Today, it’s easy to find a home for work, even if you just submit it to an article directory to promote yourself as a writer. No writing is ever wasted. That makes it easier to say yes to writing on spec, but I wouldn’t want to build a career out of that philosophy. When there’s a good opportunity to create a relationship with an editor and getting steady work, writing on spec is a pretty good gamble.

Writing – Develop a Positive Attitude Now

Develop a CAN DO Attitude!Do you have a positive attitude about your writing? Chances are that you don’t; many writers develop a negative mind set without being aware of it. This can cripple your writing career.

In this article, we’ll look at ways to develop a positive attitude. Here’s why this is essential:

  • With a positive attitude, you’ll be more productive. You’ll write more, and if your goal is selling your writing, you’ll sell more;
  • You’ll be happier and easier to live with. Your writing places demands on the people in your life: a stressed writer is unhappy, and your misery spreads to others;
  • You’ll realize that writing is a journey. When you become “successful” — however you define it — you’ll discover that writing is what motivates you. So since writing is what makes you happy, a positive attitude helps you to enjoy your journey;
  • You’ll be easier to work with. The other writing professionals in your life, your agent if you have one, and your editors, want to work with writers with a positive attitude. If you’re negative, you will never have the career you could enjoy.

So how do you develop a positive attitude?

  1. From Negative to “Yes, I Can!”

    Becoming positive is a decision. You decide. Make the decision now: that whatever happens, you will maintain a positive attitude and that your mantra will be: “Yes, I Can!”

    There — easy, wasn’t it?

    Please don’t over-complicate this… decide.

  2. Everything’s Great when You’re Thinking’s Straight

    Now you’ve made a decision to have a “Yes, I Can!” positive attitude, say “Yes, I Can!” often throughout your day.

    Daydream too. What would your life be like if you had achieved your current writing goals? What would change? What would stay the same?

    If you don’t have goals, create at least one goal right now. Got it? Great. Now say “Yes, I Can!” to that goal.

    Your writing will be much more fun when your thinking is straight.

  3. Turn Every Failure Into a Winner

    Every writer is rejected. Sooner or later you’ll realize that rejections are just part of a writer’s life, and not only will rejections stop stinging, they will also become valuable information you can use.

    Let’s see how this works. Your novel has just been rejected by default. Three months have passed since you sent chapters and a synopsis to publisher X who asked to see the material in response to a query letter…

    With your “Yes, I Can!” mantra at the forefront of your thoughts, you print up several more copies of your original query letter and slip them into envelopes you’ve printed up. You’ll drop them in the mail box tomorrow morning.

    When you have a positive attitude, rejections are feedback, and they’ll motivate you, rather than depressing you.

  4. Let Your Writing Guide You — Drop Expectations

    Your writing is always the best you can do, at a single point in time. Your writing changes. It improves: that’s what happens when you practice writing.

    You need goals for your writing, but drop expectations. The only thing you control is your writing. Accept that, and accept that your expectations are the result of insufficient data. You can’t know what will happen with any particular piece of writing, so just keep setting goals and writing to achieve them.

    Remember “Yes, I Can!” A positive attitude grows from that simple sentence. Keep your attitude positive, and there are no limits to what you can achieve.

    Want to make money writing? Discover how easy it is to make money as a Web writer with Angela Booth’s “Sell Your Writing Online NOW” Training Program. The program is fun and profitable too. There’s a full year of lessons and assignments: “Sell Your Writing Online NOW” helps you to earn while you learn, even as a brand new writer.

    For free weekly writing information, subscribe to Angela’s Fab Freelance Writing Ezine and receive “Write And Sell Your Writing: The Power-Write Report” immediately.

    Article Source:

A Pirate On The Social Scene

Arr, me hearties! Send up the mainsail and draw in the anchor. All good Capt’ns, ship dogs, and wenches be casting off their harbor shackles for that thar high seas. Ahoy, matey!

Last Friday, September 19th, was International Talk Like A Pirate Day! This unique event created an opportunity for many people around the globe. For one day, differences were cast aside and a child-like freedom and joy-filled silliness reigned supreme across the world.

Did you take advantage of this jolly event to do something special?

I sure did! – Perth Pirates of PTUB

Devar aka Ben from PTUB. Photograph by Tillee aka Tracy-LeeThanks to the wonders of Plurk and Twitter, a group of Perthites got together at Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle, Western Australia. We weren’t just the average Perthite computer geek however, we were PIRATE geeks.

From frocks to eye patches, tattoos to frills, and bandanas to booze, up to twenty men and women between twenty and forty years of age dressed for the high seas. This was one gathering more than merry enough to shiver me timbers. Thankfully, we didn’t raise too many eyebrows as even the staff had joined the fun of Talk Like A Pirate Day.

But what does a fun night out on the town really mean to freelancers?

Events, like Talk Like A Pirate Day, or upcoming Halloween, are opportunities to celebrate a social connection. For freelancers it is a fabulous excuse to connect in a diverse range of personal and professional capacities.

Pillage The Pirate Plunder

lu_lu aka Louise from PTUB. Photo by Tillee aka Tracy-LeeHow can we get the most out of social celebrations?

  • Send greeting cards or gifts.
    • Remember:
    • Keep your greetings short and simple.
    • Personalize when possible.
    • Acknowledge any greetings you receive.
  • Organize or attend parties
    • Remember:
    • Get invitations out early.
    • Respond to invitations swiftly.
    • Plan in advance to increase likelihood of attendance.
    • Send out an event reminder as it approaches.
    • Add events to your schedule.
  • Schedule a product launch
    • Remember:
    • Write High Seas Fiction or Maretine Non-Fiction? International Talk Like A Pirate Day might be your ideal launch date.
    • Horror or Supernatural? Try Halloween
    • Family and Children’s Books are great around Christmas
    • Self-Help, Finance or Health at New Year’s
    • Romance Novels for Valentine’s
    • Books with religious foundations suit Easter.

    Kitta from PTUB. Photo by Tillee aka Tracy-Lee

  • Write event specific content
    • Remember:
    • Publisher’s create their lists well in advance.
    • Pitch or Query your time sensitive content early.
    • Consider requesting a publication calendar.
  • Theme your site, blog, office, etc.
    • Remember:
    • Keep any changes low key rather than dramatic.
    • Follow standard Web Tips regarding font sizes, accessability, and color standards.
    • Back up your original so you can switch back simply after the event.
    • Sticky tape and paint are not friends.
  • Host a themed contest
    • Remember:
    • Themed contests deserve themed prizes
    • Carefully plan your deadlines
    • Keep things simple.
  • Consider, then share, the lesson
    • Remember:
    • Every experience offers an opportunity to learn.
    • Not everyone learns the same lesson.
    • It’s important to have fun regardless of the lesson.

Share The Rum With The Crew

Grum from PTUB. Photograph by Tillee aka Tracy-LeeThere are a number of reasons these actions can reap rewards but the number one is that you’re getting your name, your brand, out there. Every time you put your name in front of a friend, client, editor, etc. you’re reminding them who you are and what you can do for them.

Often, freelancers spend extraordinary quantities of time in physical seclusion. Human’s flourish in social proximity. Being able to see, smell, touch, (and taste?), other people enhances the depth of relationships. Physical contact strengthens emotional bonds. These bonds lead to personal, and career, opportunities for the future.

Also, putting an image to a word is one of the most powerful memory tools available. A face to a name makes you more memorable. Your imprint on their mind means they are more likely to think of you for future business.

Finally, lets admit it, being social makes you more human. There are some ways you don’t want to be remembered; dancing on the table, or upchucking all over the shared nachos for example, but by letting your hair down you create a depth to the persona you’ve developed in your work environment online and off. You become human, and humans always appreciate knowing they aren’t the only imperfect being. Humans are more likely to hire or recommend other humans.

Find reasons to get out there and celebrate. Give of your time freely to social situations where you can have fun and be around people with whom you enjoy spending time. Share your contact details and make yourself available to these people. Be where people can know you. Be a friend!

Ultimately, getting into the social scene is great for your own sense of self, but it’s also fantastic for your business. Do you have other tips or ideas about ramping up your social networks to enhance your business prospects? Did you have a fun night out you want to share? Please, feel free to have your say in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

Save 67% on “Writer’s Digest” Magazine is offering reduced rates on Magazine Subscriptions!!! If you’ve had your eye on “Writer’s Digest” magazine purchase your subscription at 67% discount NOW!

Amazon says, Writer’s Digest offers specific advice on writing and selling fiction and nonfiction books, stories, plays, magazine and newspaper articles, scripts and more. It provides information that helps writers succeed as they pursue their passion, through hands-on techniques from top authors, insider tips on working with agents and editors, listings of hot markets for their work, and news about the writing world. Advice from industry experts and inspiring stories from successful writers living the dream round out the package.”

Subscribe and receive 6 information-packed issues every year!