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  • Writer's pictureS.E. Reed

Writing a Book Synopsis

There often comes a point during the #querying process in which a literary agent will ask you for a Book Synopsis. This might come as part of the initial querying package request, or as a follow-up from the agent if they are interested in learning more about your book. Either way, I don’t want you to go running for a paper bag to hyperventilate in just yet.

Let me fill you in on a little secret...

Remember those oral book reports you had to do as a kid? You'd stay up all night reading, then stand at the front of your class and recount what happened to the main character, describing the plot in all it's glory and finally giving away the ending.

Well, my friend, that was a book synopsis.

A literary agent is looking for exactly the same thing. They really, truly, honestly want to know what happens in the beginning, middle AND end. And guess what? You just wrote the book. You actually know what happens!

Much like writing the actual query letter, there is a pretty easy formula when it comes to writing a book synopsis. Which means you can pack your lunch in that paper bag and relax.

The Basics:

The typical #booksynopsis is somewhere between 500-800 words. It should be single spaced, drafted in 3rd person POV and remember to keep it succinct.

Step One:

Describe your protagonist and their character motivation, you know– their desire or problem, the reason they are the main character. Give them emotion so your reader is immediately drawn in.

Step Two:

Explain the major plot points. This includes the inciting incident, the rise of the story and any plot twists, the climax and finally the resolution. This does not include minor plot points from secondary characters. Even if they are juicy and make your story oh-so-delightful. Remember, you’ve only got 800 words MAX to tell the agent what happens to your hero.

Step Three:

Remember, this is NOT the back of a book. Sorry, but you are not writing a cute and sweet hook to get your target audience to pick up and read your book. This is a professional document to share your voice, your character, and a summary of your manuscript.

That's it.

Like I said, no need to get upset. There's nothing scary or hard about writing a book synopsis. You sincerely love your novel and characters so much you plan on sharing it with the world. If you write from that place of love, it will shine through, and I know-- you'll find a literary agent.


When in doubt, ask for help. There are plenty of us writers in the #writingcommunity who would be happy to offer free feedback on a 1-page book synopsis. We've all been there, and as I've established in my post 7 Tips on Becoming a Writer, most writers love to give advice.


S.E. Reed

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