Help Writing an Amazing Synopsis

I’m in the first week of my online Book Proposal Course. It is not too late to sign up for this course and some personal, hands-on attention.

Today, I thought I’d give you a peek at the course. This is the second lesson and assignment.

“Write a Synopsis or Overview of your project. The Synopsis is the meat of your book proposal. This is where you describe your story or the theme and purpose of your book. I tell would-be authors that if you can’t write a one or two-page synopsis, you’d better rethink your book idea. Some experts suggest that the Synopsis be more like 10 or 15 pages. It actually depends on the complexity of the book. I suggest keeping it simple and brief as long as it clearly and thoroughly represents the story you plan to tell in your fiction book or the scope and focus of the material you want to include in your nonfiction book.

A Book Proposal Synopsis is in essay form. It should be organized and logical. Just as you would a story, write your Synopsis with a beginning, middle and end. You’ll want to include these key points:

• What kind of book is this?
• What is your book about?
• What is the focus and scope of your book?
• What is the point and purpose of your book?
• Who is your audience?
• Why did you decide to write this book?
• What tone will you use throughout the book?
• Why do you think people will be interested in this book?
• What makes your book different than anything else out there?
• What makes your book interesting?

Some of these points will be enhanced in other areas of the book proposal, so you may not need to go into great detail here. Your main purpose in writing the Synopsis is to grab the publisher’s attention and hold it. Your mission is to sell him on the value and marketability of your book and the Synopsis is your second chance to do that. (Your query letter was your first stab at this).

Jeff Herman, author of Write the Perfect Book Proposal says that a Synopsis is your opportunity to have 5 minutes with a publisher. With that in mind, you know what you must do—write the most intriguing piece of work you’ve ever attempted.

Write your Synopsis in a style and tone similar to that of your proposed book. And be generous. Some authors feel they must hold back information. Some are afraid to reveal data and concepts for fear they will be stolen. Others feel it is good practice not to lay all of their cards on the table too soon.

Remember that the book proposal has two important purposes—to attract a publisher and to help you determine whether or not you have a book at all. So the Synopsis is important in that it will help you to gather your thoughts about your book. It will show you (and the publisher) whether you have enough material and enough reason to produce a book of this type. It will help you to determine whether you can tell a complete story—whether you have all of the elements of a good story.

Give facts and data where appropriate and where it will enhance your Synopsis. Provide examples and dialogue that you will use in the book, if you think it will give your project more clarity. I would encourage erring on the side of offering too much information as opposed to too little. Just watch that it is all important/pertinent information and not excessive drivel and redundancies.

In fact, once you’ve written your Synopsis, tighten it up—get rid of excess words and phrases—just as you will your book once it is completed.

To sign up for this course, which will walk you through the book proposal process in 8 lessons, go to:

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