Ugh! Someone please save me from my misery. I absolutely despise writing synopsis. Seriously. I’d rather get a root canal or go for my annual gynecological checkup. Summing up a three hundred page novel in 150 words or less is like cramming every pair of shoes I own into one shoebox. I love the way a novel unfolds one long scene at a time. If I wanted to tell my story in a thousand words or less, I’d write flash fiction.
I’m doubly challenged in that I’m working on both my synopsis for the upcoming Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest as well as the book cover copy for Saving Ben. For those of you who don’t know, the synopsis is a longer version of the back cover copy, which is similar to the pitch used in a query. At 150 words or less, the back cover copy—aka the blurb—should include only the basics, written in the most intriguing way without spoiling the ending. The synopsis, on the other hand, should be more informative, touching on all the major plot points in 250-500 words. The back cover copy is designed to hook potential readers while the synopsis is used to attract agents. Or to win contests.
I spent the last two days reading the back covers of all the current bestsellers on the Goodreads website. Plus a few more from my own library. After the first dozen book jackets, I began to recognize certain patterns, which created ideas for my own copy.
I recommend you spend an afternoon following these steps:
1) Read as many book covers as it takes for you to get in the zone.
2) Take a stab at the first draft of your book copy.
3) Go back and read some more book covers.
4) Edit your first draft.
5) Walk your dog around the block and get some fresh air to clear your head.
6) Edit some more.
You get the picture. After several hours of this process your copy will begin to take shape.
As far as the synopsis goes . . . my advice is to have someone else write it for you. Convince your critique partners to help you by offering to return the favor. Or if you’re fortunate to have a spouse who loves to read and is devoted to your success, you could bribe him/her with favors of a different sort. But if all else fails, pay someone. My wonderful editor, Patricia Peters, is helping me with mine. I’m all about saving money during this self-publishing process, but not at the cost of my sanity.