While these might all give you that same stabbing pain just behind the eye, they are far from being the same thing. And that is why we have so many words to confuse new authors.
Let's define them and see if you can spot the differences.
SynopsisYou've finished writing that 80k (or more) word masterpiece. Now you need to sum it up into no more than two pages. We're talking 12pt font here people, none of that tiny text business. Expect about 500 words per page here, giving you a grand total of 1,000 words to use. That's all you get to tell this story. The synopsis should highlight only the important parts while getting the reader from point A to Z when they're done. Yes, you heard me right, a synopsis gives away the ending. Remember that. There will be a test later.
When querying an agent or editor, you may be requested to send a synopsis. This means the agent or editor is interested in your concept but does not want the entire manuscript just yet. They do want to know that you have written a complete manuscript, and they want to know how it ends.
If you thought writing the book was tough, try distilling that 80k words down to 250 words. Yes, you read that right. Two, five, zero. Not a lot of words for all that plot you just agonized over and perfected.
A query is part sales pitch and part resume. If you’re trying to get your book published by the Big 5, you need a killer pitch to entice them to pick up your book. Even if you’re aiming at Small Press Publishers, a query is essential. Publishers decide on whether to pick up a book based on market research and profitability projections as much as they factor in quality of writing. So, when you pitch to them, you have to bring your “A” game. They want to know if your book will be worth the risk they take in publishing it.
The query typically follows the following format:
Personalized Introduction (be polite and use their name, not a form letter)
Logline: One sentence pitch. (exciting details only)
Two paragraph summary (focusing on the main character and main conflict only)
Closing paragraph with author information. (your mini resume)
All of this should be no more than 250 words.
(Blurb, Marketing Copy, Jacket Copy)
Written in the same enticing style as the query, this version of your book pitch is strictly focusing on the tease. No giving away endings here. You are writing a sales summary. To do that, you must zero in on those pivotal plot moments and how they affect the story. Your job when writing a summary is to make the reader say, "what happens next?"
You have roughly 200 words to spend on this task. When writing a summary also known as the Jacket Copy (what goes on the back of the book) you are giving details about the main character and the big bad elements of the story. You set up the drama well enough so that readers must know more. And to know more, they must buy the book.
This is the part that has authors wanting to drive hot pokers into their eyes to avoid doing. Know anything about Copywriting? This is a special skill. Every word must be chosen carefully when you have so few to use and so much on the line. It has to be perfect.
Whether you need a little nudge in the right direction or someone to hold your hand through the process, I can help.