Writing a Book Synopsis for an Agent or Publisher

September 28, 2015 in Articles, Writing & Publishing

A book synopsis is your first tool in the book publishing process. Without a synopsis forget approaching a publisher, they will not want to know you.

What is a Book Synopsis

writing a book synopsisThe business side of book writing is often overlooked by would-be authors. But a business it is, and the moment you contact agents or publishers with a view to writing and publishing a book they will request a synopsis. A synopsis is a summary of your project; no more, no less, but writing a book synopsis is an important step on the traditional publishing route .

Paradoxically, the ideal time to prepare a synopsis is at the ‘back of an envelope’ stage of a book: that moment when the idea for your work first arises. This spark was unadorned and caught your breath at the time. A synopsis should never lose that vital element. The version you eventually send to a publisher will cover more ground and may have changes of emphasis and treatment, but the clarity of the message you send should be preserved.

The ability to write brilliant synopses passes most people by. It requires special skills and a disciplined, calm brain. That rules me out. I still believe, however, that writers should be the author of their synopses.

The Book Synopsis

The synopsis you submit to a literary agent or publisher should do no more than ensure a chapter or three of your book are subsequently read by them.

Include, therefore, only details most likely to make this happen. Anything else is just wasting everyone’s time.

By sticking to the theme and essential elements of your draft, your synopsis should race through the development of your story – leaving the reader informed, but not fulfilled; only the book can do that. If it has, at its heart, a fresh theme, well treated, then once you have conveyed this, your work is done. This really is how to publish a book, by following the publishers’ rules.

Over-egg the synopsis and with each dollop you will be in danger of losing the reader’s attention – or worse.

Some Tips for Writing a Book Synopsis

One page, single-spaced, should do the job (500 words). Two pages is stretching the attention span, unless your subject matter has to be detail- driven. This is often the case with non-fiction. But for fiction, keep it short.

Remember, this is supposed to be a business document, not great literature. Make your essential points in a few short words – then stop.

The synopsis is not the place to sell the book. Stick to unveiling aspects of the book which will prompt the reader to examine your work further.

If this particular chore is an exercise too far, there are independent book editing services that have editors who will write a synopsis for you. Not everyone is a born editor/summariser with an understanding of the business aspects of publishing. If you have confidence in your manuscript it really makes sense to ensure you submit it professionally. A poor or inadequate synopsis will scupper your chances of a deal, often without a word of your book being read. Invest a little time in getting this right, and be one step ahead of the competition.

Creative Writing Ideas and Tips for a Book

September 21, 2015 in Articles, Book Marketing

Is knowing your target audience the key to good book writing. Well it certainly helps, because for a start you tend to include the content your audience is seeking. You meet their needs.

Who is your book for?

Most aspiring writers give this question a lot of thought – after their books are written. This is a shame because the books would have been easier to write and a better read had the authors considered the needs of the reader at the outset.

Creative writing ideasThis applies to works of fiction and non-fiction. Just because your book is entitled ‘A Guide to Slug Clearance’, it’s still not enough to crash ahead producing the definitive work on the subject without thinking through who might need the book, why, and how can the information be best delivered without either upsetting the sensibilities of readers – or boring them to death.

Staying with the above example, let’s assume that the book’s author would like sales to be sufficient to net at least a modest profit.

Readers have needs; this article is aimed at meeting needs. So, what might be the needs of the readers of our slug expert’s book? They could be academics determined to become slug gurus; put aside a few copies, at most; they could be ecologists with the harmony of all living creatures on their mind: put aside another three copies. No – the major market for this book would be readers who have a problem getting rid of the slimy things, because slugs and their close cousins the snail have an appetite for the same food that we humans fancy, and they get there first! Now we are talking bigger numbers. But don’t stop just yet. This is a goodie. I’m now thinking world-wide sales. This book could have dire implications for slugs speaking all the languages under the sun. The bestseller list beckons. But we won’t succeed until we structure the book to provide benefits the reader would appreciate. So creative writing ideas start with identifying your target market and making sure you meet their requirements.

Food growers, allotment holders, and vegetable patch addicts will all know a thing or two about slugs; many will have tried and tested methods to get rid of them. This book must make a case for itself. These readers aren’t going to buy this book simply to empathise with and acknowledge the undoubted excellence of the writer’s brain. They want more. They want this book to give them all the knowledge about slugs so that they can do an even better job of growing their produce in a slug-free environment. They pick up the book, and what do they find? Too often, an ill-focused, poorly thought-through book that exceeds the writer’s wildest expectations because the knowledge and expertise has somehow landed on the printed page, but it leaves the potential reader bemused. ‘What can this book do for me,’ is the unspoken thought in the forefront of buyers’ minds. Tackle these ‘thoughts’ in a logical manner, with the priority issues to the fore, and you’ll win custom; if potential readers have to leaf through (sorry, slugs) to page sixty-six before finding out whether the book covers their particular slug infestation, you’ll not make a sale.

Creative Writing Idea – A profile of your potential readers.

They have a slug problem. They want to remove, deter, assassinate slugs – their slugs – on their patch of earth. They don’t want a 500 page encyclopaedia on slugs or a three-page leaflet on the bite pattern of Argentine slugs, they simply want to see, from the first pages, that this inexpensive book covers the habits, likes and dislikes of the slugs most likely to appear in their garden, and gives straightforward, intelligible advice on methods of removing the menace. These buyers are seeking value for money from a book that needn’t be large or expensive. They don’t need to know much about the author other than to be able to assure themselves that he or she knows what they’re talking about.

Now it should appear evident from the above that I know little or nothing about slugs. But, if you want to sell a book about slugs, you need to research the problem thoroughly, find out what motivates slug haters and then structure your book so that potential buyers can see at a glance that your book is just what they’re looking for. Go to a large bookshop, go online, google, look up Amazon, find out who has already tackled this subject before; pinch the good ideas, reject the bad, then you’ll know that your book is going to be a world-beater. Slugs look out!

Once you have established the pressing requirements and desires of your readers, you can begin to match your knowledge and expertise to them. With the needs of your reader paramount, you no longer have to worry about how to deliver your wisdom to the page; your potential buyers have now told you. The book will already be written to their order rather than yours. Progress has been made.

Jonathan Veale is passionate about books and writing, he is happy to share his knowledge and experience on writing books that sell. If you would like to find more advice from Jonathan, then take a look at his book on How to Write a Book Only 99p in Kindle format.

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