How to Write a Synopsis for the Back Cover

synopsisLast week we discussed the different elements of book cover design. The cover of a book is a very important aspect in book sales. A boring cover won’t sell much, but a dynamic and unique one will attract readers. The front cover should work to draw the reader in: it should wow them and invite them to look further. The back cover, then, is where the reader should get hooked. The back cover should be the thing that makes the reader decide, Yes, I will read this book! The reason for this? The synopsis, of course! 

What is a Book Synopsis?

The main aspect of the back cover is the synopsis. A synopsis is a short summary of the novel that tells potential readers what the novel is about without revealing too much of the plot. Think of it as a commercial or trailer for a book!

Writing a synopsis is a great way for a self-published author to ensure that their book is marketed exactly how they want. A book synopsis isn’t very long – usually only a few paragraphs. This leaves room on the back cover for blurbs about the book from other authors or reviews as well as an author bio. Since there’s a limited amount of space, the self-published author will need to ensure that their synopsis is as strong as possible. Synopses are intricate things: they must be thorough, yet vague; inviting, yet mysterious.

Writing a Synopsis for Fiction Books

For fiction books, the author will need to strike the perfect balance between revealing enough to make it intriguing while still keeping enough a secret so that the reader absolutely has to find out what happens.

Most synopses start out with a one or two sentence tagline that hooks the reader. This tagline should standalone and work quickly to pique interest. The synopsis will then go into a more formal summary (about 200 words) to tell the reader what they can expect to find in the pages. This shouldn’t be overt, however. Don’t write, “In this book, you will read…”

Self-published authors should look at the books on their shelves to get a general idea of how to do this. Consult favorite books or authors and mimic their style when crafting a synopsis.

How to Write a Synopsis for a Nonfiction Book

The synopsis for a memoir will function similarly to that of a novel. Some memoirs employ the use of multi-paragraph synopses, while others utilize mostly blurbs and other pull quotes. This depends entirely on author preference.

For biographies or more educational nonfiction books, the author will first need to establish credibility on the subject. One line about the background of their knowledge of whatever they’re writing about – be it World War II submarines or the science of psychoanalysis – will suffice before getting to the summary of the book. This type of credibility won’t need to be established in fiction or memoir (one would assume the author is an expert of their own life!).

All in all, both the front and back cover should work together in harmony toward one end: a reader buying the book. In a way, the cover works as a marketing strategy, and the book synopsis is the final attempt to sway a reader.