How to Write a Book Synopsis

How to Write a Book Synopsis

A book summary or book synopsis is a key component to your book proposal. Writing a good book synopsis can be the difference between having your manuscript accepted or rejected. And of course, if it’s published, whether it gets read or sits untouched on the shelf.

Imagine, if you will, that you are in a bookstore, surrounded by thousands of novels, overwhelmed and unsure of what to read next. First, you narrow it down by genre and gravitate toward the shelf that speaks to you most. Your attention is then drawn to certain books based on their cover and title. Perhaps you know the author or have heard good things about a certain book through social media or friends. Maybe you even look up intriguing titles in GoodReads to check their rating and recent reviews. Based on these indicators, you pick up a few and skim through the blurbs on their back covers. Finally, you make your selection and head to the till to check out. 

Sound familiar? Such is the experience that most of us have when discovering a new book, whether it be through a physical bookshop or online. While the cover is important in initially sparking interest, it is the book synopsis, or blurb, on the back cover that typically solidifies our decision. As such, it is critically important to write an attention-grabbing blurb that accurately represents the contents within. And we at Cherish Editions are here to help you draft it, starting with the answers to common questions that should be addressed in your blurb:

Who?

Briefly describe your protagonist, whether this be yourself or your real or fictional hero. Certain characteristics of the protagonist will likely be mirrored by their audience, especially if writing about a lived experience involving mental illness. 

Where/when?

Set the scene without being overly specific – to achieve maximum exposure, a book should be relatable to those reading from any corner of the world at any given point in time.

What?

Describe the overarching conflict present within the novel without giving too much away. In other words, introduce personal challenges without revealing how they will be overcome. 

As a general rule, use charged or loaded language to appeal to the emotions of the reader and leave them wanting more. Don’t be afraid to use a particularly well-written or powerful quote from the novel to pique interest. 

Still stuck?

Go to a bookstore and read blurbs for books in a similar genre to discover what works for you and apply these techniques to your own novel. And don’t forget – all this should be accomplished within 100-200 words, or five to seven sentences spanning two paragraphs. 

Your blurb will be helpful not only in attracting readers to your book, but before that, publishers to your manuscript. Like readers in a bookstore, publishers are often inundated with submissions and a well-written blurb can make it stand out in the crowd. Once accepted, a publisher will often leverage their experience to draft or edit the blurb in a way that caters to the book’s target demographic, which ultimately helps you get the sales you crave. 

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