How to Write a Fantastic Synopsis by Sherri Wilkolaski

© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

My favorite (and I’ve read many) book about writing a synopsis is by Elizabeth Sinclair and is called, Writing the Dreaded Synopsis. It’s an in-depth little book that also addresses making sure your characters are complete, your pacing is up to speed and your plot, in general, makes lots of sense.  But, if you a writer who hates instruction manuals and thorough how-to books, I came across this and liked it a lot.

Courtesy of Sherri Wilkolaski who writes for Infinity’s Blog for Authors and Writers. (Their blog has some great tips and information – for FREE!) One of the reputable guys in the self-publishing business, Infinity Press can be found at I know several of their authors and editors – all top-notch talent! And, you can sign up for the blog without fear of being dunned for your business. I do not and have not received any compensation for posting this message – I just like to share good stuff for writers when I find it!

Keep reading and writing! Nancy Q.

How To Write A Fantastic Book Synopsis
Posted by Sherrie Wilkolaski on Thu, Oct 03, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

Writing a book synopsis is arguably the most difficult step in the publishing process. How can you contain an entire book in one, small paragraph? We’re here to help and guide you with a few tips!
All In The Details. It may seem arbitrary, but it’s important to include at least your main characters name in your book synopsis, if your book is a work of fiction that is. This is the first time your reader will connect with your story, and a character’s name will help solidify this. It may be personal taste, but I also think that your book title should be included at some point, possibly near the end. This will aid you from a marketing standpoint as reviewers may post your synopsis to their website.
Take A Look Back. Review your chapters and write down the main events in each; then narrow this list down with another edit. You will want to include the most vital plot points in your synopsis but without giving too much away. It should be a teaser of sorts as your main goal is to keep your potential reader intrigued enough to purchase the book. If your book is a piece of non-fiction, such as a cookbook, you can also highlight key recipes that you think your reader will enjoy.
Two’s Company. Because there is no definitive length to a synopsis, it’s recommended you have two versions: a long synopsis and a short synopsis. The longer synopsis can be used on the back of your book or interior flap of your hardcover’s dust jacket. Your short synopsis will be a great addition to media pitch emails as it will give book marketers a taste of your book without crowding them with too much detail.

Comments or ideas sparked by this article? Do you have synopsis writing tips to share? Post here or send me an email! Would love to hear from you. Nancy Q. 




About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014.
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2 Responses to How to Write a Fantastic Synopsis by Sherri Wilkolaski

  1. Skye-writer says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong – I so often am– But the synopsis is usually a summary of the entire book, including the ending and is intended for selling to an agent or publisher who wants to know how you resolved the conflicts. The short paragraph on the back of the book is the blurb and of course, it does not want to tell the ending and discourage the intended target from buying your book which is now in in print on a shelf, or ebook waiting for you to download it.

    • NL Quatrano says:

      You are not wrong at all! But like all terms, there can be more than one meaning. In the self-publishing world, the word synopsis is also used as the description or the meat for the Query Letter which is now mostly done on line. And, excerpts from a well done synopsis, long or short, can be used for blurbs, cover flaps, etc. You and I, because we were “raised” in an older generation mostly before self-publishing, consider a synopsis to be that tool that editors and/or agents use to determine whether or not they’ll ask for the manuscript. It was usually sent as part of the query. But in the past 3 years, I have heard and read that editors and agents are no longer really interested in the synopsis. They’ll ask for partials if you’ve hooked them with query. I suspect it has always been a case of to each his own – some wanted synopsis, some didn’t, some read them, some didn’t. This generation of book publishers don’t always mean exactly what was once meant when they use a term like synopsis. Another one that’s changing is query… I still like using the synopsis to check my story out – be sure I carried through the story arc and that the character’s journeys make sense, but that’s my “old school” upbringing. That works for me.

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