What’s that? You’ve finished writing your manuscript and you’re ready to start contacting publishers? That’s great! So, what happens now? If you’ve already tried communicating with publishing companies or agents, I’m sure you know the answer. Your first order of business is to start assembling your package. Each publisher will have their own requirements and specifications, but you can generally expect to send a query letter, a brief synopsis, and three consecutive sampler chapters from your novel.
What Is a Brief Synopsis?
As the name suggests, a brief synopsis is a short summary of the contents of your novel. This is essentially going to be your elevator pitch. You’ll need to include all of the major components of your story – plot, characters, setting, and so on – while also providing the bigger picture. Unlike the summary you find on the back cover or inside flap of a book, this one will expand to cover the novel from beginning to end, while still staying concise and focused.
It’s recommended to avoid dialogue if at all possible, but you’re free to include choice quotes if you feel they are integral to the core of your story. Tread carefully! Agents and publishers have only so much time to devote to any one brief synopsis, so you must endeavor to keep it on point while keeping their attention. Most companies limit this synopsis to two or even one page maximum in order to maintain efficiency. For this reason, it’s often recommended to prepare two versions of your brief synopsis, one short and one long. That way, if you’re given a limit, you can submit the short version with ease, and if you’re given less specific instructions, the longer one will do. This will also depend on the nature of your story and the quality of each version. In the end, you’ll want to go with the synopsis that best captures the essence of your novel while still respecting the publisher or agent’s constraints. Don’t let this overwhelm you! This can be a fun way to reflect on the journey you’ve taken with your novel so far.