May 05

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review – What’s the Difference?

Book Synopsis, Book Description, Book Review

The book synopsis, description, and review are three book marketing tools that your books will absolutely need.

But, when do you need these marketing elements and how do you use them?

Let’s look at each one in the order you would use them.

The Book Synopsis

You’ve written an amazing story – it’s traditional publishing ready … and worthy.

You do your research and find literary agents and/or publishing houses that accept your book’s genre. And, a few of the publishing houses accept unagented and unsolicited submissions. Yea!

Along with a cover letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript, the agent or publisher will probably want a synopsis of your story. (The number of pages may vary from company to company, and you’ll send the full manuscript if you’ve written a picture book.)

So, what exactly is a synopsis?

According to an article at Writer’s Digest, “A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and how the book or novel ends. It ensures character actions and motivations are realistic and make sense. It summarizes what happens and who changes from beginning to end of the story.” (1)

The synopsis will be part of your submissions journey. And yes, it gives away the ending.

Your synopsis should be one-two pages, depending on the length of your book. You don’t want to overload it with details, but you want to give enough information to whet the reader’s appetite.

Just summarize your story and be sure to include the ending.

An agent or publisher will want to know exactly what happens in the story and how it ends up.

Along with the number of pages requested from your manuscript, the synopsis will help determine whether the agent or publisher will want to see more.

The Book Description

Next up on your writing journey is the book’s description. This may be similar to the synopsis, but there’s a BIG difference: You don’t give away the ending or any other surprises in the story.

The description is a book marketing tool that helps sell your book. It explains what your story is about in a way that makes the reader want to read the book. It’s a hook.

If you’ve written a book and went to the trouble of submitting it to agents and/or publishers, or you’re self-publishing, you want to sell that book.

The short version of the book’s description (backcover copy) and the longer version for marketing and publicity purposes are pitches to the reader. These descriptions should be enticing enough to motivate the reader to buy your book.

The description could make or break the purchasing decision.

In fact, I can’t remember where I read it, but the #1 selling factor of a book is the cover. The #2 factor is the backcover copy.

The Book Review

As soon as you have a completed manuscript that’s about to be published or has just been published, whether traditionally published or self-published, you will need reviews of your book.

In an article at Jane, the author says that “book reviews build symbolic capital.” (2) This is what you need for book sales.

Okay, so what is symbolic capital?

Well, you may think your book is amazing, but the purchaser wants more evidence than your opinion. They want to know that others have read your book and loved it. “You need (positive) independent assessment to convince readers to spend money and time.” (2)

This is where book reviews come in.

Think of an author in one of the big five publishing houses. Think of an author on the NYTimes Best Seller list, multiple times. Think of ‘heavy hitters’ like James Patterson, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and Nora Roberts.

This is symbolic capital.

While most authors won’t be in the category above, having lots of positive book reviews is another form of symbolic capital.

Book reviews are extremely important if you’re a self-published author. You won’t have any momentum behind you, so you need to create your own with book reviews.

You might consider giving the book away for free to get some word-of-mouth started. Ask if the readers will post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sites.

Once you start getting positive reviews, you can use them in your marketing. Keep building on them.

Why are Book Reviews SO Powerful?

In an article at, it states, “In a recent study, data revealed that 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews.” (3)

It seems, salespeople and marketers are trusted only 3% compared to 2% for car salesmen and politicians. (3)

That’s powerful information.

Hope this helps you as you get your book out there.



Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

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Dec 06

The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components

Tips on writing a book summary

After your book query, the book summary or description is the most important marketing element. You can think of it as number 2 on the book marketing ladder.

Once your book query gets the reader to actually read it, the summary is what will entice the editor or agent to ask for more.

If you’re writing fiction, this means taking your novel, short story, or other fiction genre and reducing it, condensing it, to around 200 words. Many authors, especially new ones, have a difficult time with this. How do you turn a 35,000 children middle grade book into 200 words? How do you turn a 250,000 word novel into 200 words?


Well, as impossible as it may seem, that’s what you need to do to get your manuscript out your door and into a publishing house.

So, what’s involved in writing a ‘killer’ book summary?

According to Margaret Fortune, in an article at Writer’s Digest, the “synopsis [summary] is about one thing: Convincing an agent [or editor] to read your book.” (1)

Again, you book query made the editor/agent look, but it’s the summary that will have her wanting more.

The summary breaks the manuscript into five primary components:

1. Main characters

Once the reader gets to the point of reading your summary, you need to provide an engaging protagonist (main character). This very brief portrayal must demonstrate the protagonist’s individuality. The reader must be able to relate to the character through some trait, goal, peculiarity, or other.

In my middle grade fantasy adventure, “Walking Through Walls,” the protagonist didn’t want to labor in the fields like his father. He wanted more. He wanted to find the Eternals, a mystical group who had extraordinary powers. In fact, he obsessed over finding them.

This gives the protagonist a particular characteristic, an edge. It sets him apart.

2. Plot, including setting

This is one of the toughies. You want to be descriptive, but you need to make it lean. Give enough, but don’t give too much.

According to the article Shrink Tank by Grace Bello, “The key is to entice, not to reveal all.” (2)

TIP: A helpful way to condense your story is to first create 10 different elevator pitches for it. These are one or two sentences that you could convincing get out within a 30-60 second elevator ride.

Once you can narrow the manuscript down to an elevator pitch, you should find it easier to write a 200 word overview.

3. Tone

The tone is established through phrasing and even word choices, such as positive or negative words. The tone is subjective – it’s the author’s attitude toward the story or components within the story.

Write the summary in the same tone [narrative voice] as the book. If it’s humorous, make the summary humorous. If it a mystery or suspense, keep that tone in the summary.

4. Genre

The editor or agent will of course want to know the genre, so be sure to include it.

TIP: If you submit a children’s story to a romance book publisher, that editor won’t be interested in your story – no matter how well-crafted your summary is. So, be sure you research the publishing houses and/or agents you intend to submit your query and summary to. Be sure the accept submissions in your genre.

5. Comparable titles

While years ago, this wasn’t an issue, it is now. Agents and publishers want to know what they can compare your story to.

As an example, my middle grade fantasy book mentioned above, is set in 16th century China. It has the elements of respect and honor that the time period conjures up. If I had to compare it to something similar, I’d have to go with “A Single Shard,” by Linda Sue Park.

This is in no way stating it’s as good as “A Single Shard,” it’s saying that it has a similar tone and mood to that book.

TIP: Be careful with this component. You don’t want to puff your book up by comparing it to a great book. As with my example above, I’d be quick to mention that it’s only comparable in tone and mood.


(2) The Writer, October 2013, Shrink Tank, page 33.


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Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, editor, and coach. I can turn your story into a publishable and marketable book.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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