Book Descriptions versus Book Synopsis
A synopsis is different to a book description, which is again different to a blurb. In the self publishing space, you do not necessarily require a synopsis, in the traditional sense.
To publish your book on the online bookstores requires a long and a short book description, these are sometimes are referred to as a blurb – but this is incorrect.
There are a lot of different definitions out there for these terms, so this is my understanding of it.
Why do you need a book synopsis or book description?
The purpose of a synopsis is to sell your work to a publisher, whereas the purpose of a book description is to sell your work to a reader.
The publisher looks at a synopsis through the lens of finding a commercially viable product, whereas the reader is looking for an entertaining read. Both audiences are looking for different things: the former is a commercial decision, the latter is an emotional decision – so the wording for a synopsis needs to be different to a book description, to fulfil the different needs.
A good synopsis is written in a way that helps a publisher evaluate if this product is likely to get a good return and is worthwhile their investment. A good book description is written to hook the reader in so they want to invest both their money and time reading the book.
Being two different audiences to fit two different purposes, they need to be written in very different styles.
Developing your synopsis is important if you plan on taking your work to a traditional publisher.
A synopsis is written as a brief summary of the major plot points of a book, or an abridgement of the book’s contents, articulated in an interesting and succinct way. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. They are normally included with a cover letter to a publisher who is considering their work.
For some sound advice on constructing a synopsis, Jane Friedman has it covered.
A book description is written to entice a reader with the journey or transformation the book will provide to them, without giving away the answer or ending. It is a grab of one or two key points and shaped into a teasing summary of the outcome or conclusion a reader can expect by reading this book.
When self-publishing your book to an online bookseller such as Amazon, iBookstore or Kobo, you will need both a long description (about 1000- characters) and a short description (about 400-500 characters).
The short description appears on the back of the book cover, so a potential reader can scan the back and decide if they want to purchase, and the longer descriptions are included on a landing page or where online bookstores allow book descriptions to be placed on the book’s sales page. As it does not need to fit within the confines of a book cover, this allows you to elaborate a little more, whilst still remaining within the conventions of it’s purpose, which is to hook the reader.
If you are stuck for words when crafting your book description, here is a brilliant piece of reverse engineering to come up with book descriptions, by Joanna Penn.
A Book Blurb:
Book blurbs are different again, and a terrific sales tool for your work. Read more about book blurbs here: http://bookboffin.com/how-to-get-book-endorsements/
So to sum up, I see the synopsis as a selling tool, and the book description as a promotional tool. One is sales, the other is marketing.
If you have already developed your synopsis, I don’t want to discount the work that has been done because that can incredibly useful when working with designers and copyrighters to develop your product and marketing pieces. Include your synopsis with your brief to enable them to get a quick grasp on the type of book this is, so they can get the styling and messaging right.
When you are self-publishing, you are bypassing the traditional publishing houses so don’t have to try and sell it to anyone except your target audience – they are now your gatekeeper. So your only job now becomes building an audience of fans of your work, and that is easily done through showing them the amazing journey you can take them on in your book. And one of the ways to do that is through an effective book description.