What Did You Learn?

April 16, 2010

Parts of a Proposal: the Synopsis

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , — ax20 @ 3:36 pm

If you write fiction, you will be writing a synopsis for your proposal. Whatever the hidden themes and ideas you may have in your book, this is not the place to explain them. Here you want to tell the agent or publisher what your book is about. And I don’t mean a three liner saying that “it’s about a guy who takes a journey into the woods to discuss who he is.” Think about it. Does this tell you anything about the book? From that description do you know the characters, the character arch, the villain (assuming there is one), the specific problems and what he does to fix them? No. Make sure to give enough detail that the reader can understand the heart of the story without giving away every detail.

A good guideline would be the back cover of books. The point of those one to two paragraphs is for people who are browsing to read them and think “this sounds great, I’m going to buy this book.” You are selling your book so make sure the synopsis is exciting, not like a dull summary. Catch their attention and pull them in.

Make sure that the synopsis sounds like you. If you are writing a book with a comedic edge, don’t say it’s funny, make sure that the tone of your synopsis is funny. If you claim your book sounds like one thing but it doesn’t come across in your synopsis, they may approach your manuscript with skepticism. Assuming they read your manuscript at all.

That’s something to keep in mind. Your synopsis is step one to getting them interested in your work. If they don’t know what the book is about by the time they read your synopsis, there is a good chance they won’t bother trying to read your actual manuscript at all.

Should you be writing non-fiction, your synopsis might become a bit more of an overview, which to me means making sure to give a slight explanation as to why this book is important and relevant today.


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