You’ve finished your novel, copy edits included, and you’re ready to send it out into the world. Now’s the time for the next big step: writing your synopsis. This single page of compelling, tightly written copy is the basis for a lot of your future marketing and pitch plans.
Your synopsis should give the complete story, including the snazzy surprise ending. If you’re taking the traditional route, this will go out with your query letter to publishers and agents who will evaluate if the story is engaging enough to equal sales. It is also the smartest writing sample you’ll have, outside of your novel.
Know from the start, if you can take a 300+ page novel and write a cohesive 1 page synopsis, you are prepared to write ANYTHING.
Open with a hook that captures the tone, genre and setting. If the opening line or two of your novel is to die for, consider using that as the setup for the synopsis. Then go through and write a compelling line for each major plot turn. I can’t emphasize enough, how important it is to make your words work for the right to be on the page. Cut your adverbs and adjectives. Eradicate “was”, “that” and especially “have/had”. Passive language kills momentum for your reader.
Once you’re done and realize you have too many pages, it’s time to cut. (Did you really think you were done with all that editing.) What are the most pivotal plot points? Keep those and sharpen the lines to be active and intriguing. Are you showing how your plot is moving forward? How about character development? Your characters grow throughout the novel, they should show growth here too.
If you have a friend or family member who is a great editor, reader or writer, call in a favor and get their opinion. You may even want to pay a professional to look it over and make edits or suggestions. This is usually a minimal fee (usually less than $40) and well worth the money.
In the end, you have a top-notch synopsis that is the base for your book cover, elevator pitch, author page, website, etc. Let’s see how this translates.
Book Cover/On-line Point of Purchase
For the potential reader, you don’t want to give away the ending. The twists, and surprises along the way is what makes reading a great novel so much fun. Start with your incredible synopsis and look at the hook. It’s there right at the top. Finish with an intriguing summary line that hints at a satisfying ending. In addition to becoming jacket copy, you now have your product description for on-line point of sales such as Amazon.
Pull pithy prose and twitter it to your followers. Use links to your web site or point of purchase.
The elevator pitch should be for anyone nice enough to say hello. Don’t wait for an unsuspecting agent at a writers conference. Pitch your novel to your friends, your hair dresser, your daughter’s preschool teachers and anyone standing still long enough to listen. Before you know it, the pitch will tumble out naturally and with confidence. EVERYONE is a potential reader and so is everyone to whom they pass your name and novel.
Did I Mention Press Release?
The news wires and free release sites are great, but there are even greater avenues for distributing the news about your writing. Regional writing organizations such as the North Carolina Writer’s Network promote press releases, web sites and readings to their members. Contact local independent book stores and find out how to be involved in an author event, panel discussion or book club. They will appreciate your professional and prepared approach.
Best of luck! Comment and share your experience and advice for fellow writers.