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Writing the Blurb and the Synopsis

Newcomers to fiction writing can be understandably confused when it comes to writing a blurb versus writing a synopsis. You will have to write both a blurb and a synopsis to submit your work to agents or publishers. Typically, you make your initial contact with an agent or editor through an email that acts as your cover letter. Here, you introduce yourself, your writing credentials, and your book. To introduce your book, you include your blurb right there in the email. If all this piques the editorís or agentís curiosity, he or she will ask you to email a synopsis. Sometimes agents and editors allow you to attach your synopsis to your initial email; check each individualís guidelines for instruction.

The blurb and the synopsis are different in length and intent. A blurb is very short, perhaps only 200 words. It hints at the story elements, revealing only enough information to hook the readersí interest. Most new writers are familiar with blurbs from seeing them on websites like Amazon.com as well as on book jackets and the back covers of paperbacks.

A synopsis is used behind the scenes in publishing, and readers never encounter it. In a synopsis, you must reveal every plot point in your novel while keeping your summary to only three pages or about 750 words. The synopsis exposes the skeleton of your plot and helps the editor or agent to estimate how much fixing it needs to be publishable. Does your synopsis reveal too much introspection and not enough action in your plot? Are there too many subplots to be balanced and contained in one novel? Your synopsis lays bare your plotís strengths and weaknesses, and may determine whether your book is worth acquiring.

Writing either a blurb or a synopsis is difficult because of their respective word-count limits. (Again, check the specific guidelines of the agent or editor to whom you wish to send your blurb or synopsis.) A blurb must sell the book but not reveal too much information. But a synopsis might be ever harder to create because you must summarize everything while keeping to a certain level of detail that wonít push past your word-count limit. Writing both the blurb and the synopsis reduces your book to its most marketable features (via the blurb) and its skeletal plot structure (via the synopsis), which can help you identify your novelís strengths and weaknesses.

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