How to Write a Synopsis

Summarising your story in a short synopsis can feel almost as difficult as writing the book in the first place! Never fear – here are Avon’s top five tips to help you craft a synopsis before you submit…

  1. Keep it short and sweet – by which we mean 500 words or fewer. We want to get a quick overview of your book and understand how everything will play out. Sometimes the title and pitch of your submission are intriguing but don’t make the genre of your book completely clear (for example, is it more of a domestic suspense with twists and turns, or a thriller with plenty of action?) and the synopsis can help clarify that.
  2. You don’t need to include all the characters. Who do we need to know about? If a character isn’t central to the story, it’s probably better to leave them out so that the synopsis is short and easy to understand.
  3. Let us know the key turning-points of the story – what inciting incident kicks everything off (this is usually the reason a story starts where it does), and how does the plot develop from there? If you can begin your synopsis with an exciting opening line (as opposed to backstory, for example), that can really grab our attention.
  4. Read blurbs on the back of published books to see what kind of information editors use to hook a reader in. Assume that we haven’t yet read your story – as we typically look over the supporting information first – and make us desperate to!
  5. That said, remember that a synopsis should be complete, unlike a blurb or a pitch, so don’t leave us with a cliff-hanger! Your synopsis should cover the book’s story from start to finish, including any twists.

Remember that the synopsis is just another way for you to support your submission and give us all the information we need to decide whether we can publish it here at Avon. A brilliant synopsis will certainly make an editor excited to start reading, and help them see the potential in a book even if it needs editorial work before it will be ready to publish. But in the end, your writing and idea are the most important things when we make a decision, and we don’t expect a synopsis to be perfect. So don’t let agonising over it hold you back from submitting your brilliant book!

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