re: Dare I Reveal My Secrets In My Synopsis?

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Dear Editor…

When querying agents and/or publishers, which type of synopsis would you recommend including in the query letter?: 1) a “book blurb” synopsis (similar to what would appear on the book jacket), which does *not* tell the whole story or give away the ending, or 2) a “comprehensive synopsis” that gives an overview of all major plot points from beginning to end, including revealing the ending. I am a debut author who is fairly new to this whole querying business, and I’ve read mixed recommendations about which type of synopsis should be included. I’d love to know what you recommend!

Jamie

Dear Jamie…

Don’t be a tease: submit the “comprehensive” version, all secrets revealed. The reason agents and editors turn to the synopsis is because they’ve read that “book blurb”-type pitch in your query letter and liked the concept, and they’ve read your sample pages and liked the narrative voice and opening, and now they want to know your plans for the plot. ALL of your plans. Now’s not the time to get cutesy or try to entertain. Show step by step, in a 1- to 2-page, single-spaced document that’s more like an enhanced outline, how the plot will unfold for the main storyline. If the subplot is directly related to the resolution of your main plot, lay that out step by step, too. End with showing not only how the plot is resolved but how your character’s internal journey has been completed. Think of this as handing the agent the blueprints to your story.

Happy writing!
The Editor

5 Comments

  1. Do you all have submission on your minds this week? This is the third question I’ve received about what to include in the synopsis. Knock ’em dead, submitters!

  2. It’s the mad submission rush before, as we’re led to believe, publishing shuts down for the summer.

    As to Jamie’s question, if the agent doesn’t invite a synopsis in the query stages, don’t send one. Follow the agent’s guidelines. Have one written and ready though, as per Dear Editor’s guidelines, the moment the agent responds saying they love your pages and want to see a synopsis.

    • Hi.

      The original question was “When querying agents and/or publishers, which type of synopsis would you recommend including in the query letter?”

      So in you answer, you said “The reason agents and editors turn to the synopsis is because they’ve read that ‘book blurb’-type pitch in your query letter …” I assume then the “book blurb”-type is the better choice?

      *smile*
      And yes, it does seem to be the season whatever the reason.
      ~Trish

      • The synopsis, which is a separate document accompanying the query letter in the submission, should be comprehensive. The text of the query itself pitches the concept and story in a blurby manner, without summarizing the story. Thanks for pointing out that clarifying the elements would be helpful, Trish.

        • Thanks for the feedback, everyone! I’ve asked this question of a few other authors who are in the querying stage, and most of them actually told me they submit a “comprehensive” synopsis as a standard part of their query letters, even before the agent has requested it. I had not been doing that (instead, my query letters included a blurb-version), so of course, this sent me into a bit of a panic. haha. It’s great to hear that I was actually going about it the right way all along! One less thing to stress about. 🙂

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