BLURB VERUS SYNOPSIS
A lot of authors will tell you writing a blurb or a synopsis is harder than writing the book. Sometimes you may hear a blurb referred to as a synopsis. In their true sense, they are two very different things. So, what is a blurb?
A blurb is a short description written for promotional purposes. It is generally between one hundred and two hundred words only, and is usually found on the back cover of a paperback. If a book is published online, you will find the blurb in the book’s product page.
The aim of a blurb is to lure your reader in with a teaser of the book. Just enough to pique their interest. A bit like a profile on a dating site that makes you think, they sound interesting, I might message them.
The trick with a good blurb is to hook the reader, while not giving too much away. Introduce your main character and what the stakes are. Don’t give anything else away. Create intrigue around the main conflict.
Some common mistakes writers make with blurbs include, giving away too much information, making it too long winded, including spoilers, and summarising the whole first chapter.
Your blurb should be short and pack a punch. Here is the blurb for my book titled ‘Making March’;
Kate feels old, alone, and regrettably round. It’s the first of February and today happens to be her fortieth birthday. This month, she must survive a pending divorce, raising her offspring spawn from Satan, being Maid of Honour, a fellow bridesmaid from hell, multiple dress fittings, and her meddling mother. Can she make it to March with her sanity intact?
Here is the blurb for ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ by Marian Keyes;
Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters - Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She's only agreed to her incarceration because she's heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey - and it's about time she had a holiday. But what Rachel doesn't count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll - and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this?
Let’s look at the synopsis. A synopsis is different to a blurb. It is a lot longer and sums up the whole plot, spoilers and all, including how it ends, in one page. An average synopsis is around three hundred words in length.
The purpose of a synopsis is to tell a literary agent or publisher about your book. If you want to be taken seriously and have your manuscript considered, you need to write a great synopsis.
Many authors detest writing a synopsis, as summarising a whole manuscript into three hundred words is no mean feat.
The basic formula for a synopsis is, the inciting event, the rising action or conflict / challenge, the climax, and lastly the ending. Do not include any mystery or unanswered questions. An agent or publisher wants to know what happens in the book. This is no time to unleash your inner David Copperfield. Leave all the smoke and mirrors for your blurb.
Your synopsis should read a bit like a detailed book review with spoilers. Cut out any irrelevant bits. Anything that doesn’t lead onto the next crucial point in the plot is not needed. Keep it clear and concise. Writing a synopsis will help you see if there are any glaring issues like plot holes that need to be addressed.
Another term you may hear is ‘elevator pitch’. This is a short sentence to describe the plot in a few words. For example, ‘Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone’ could read, ‘Orphaned boy discovers he is a wizard.’
So, don’t feel intimidated about writing a blurb or synopsis. I actually enjoy writing them. If you find it difficult, I hope these tips help you get it right. Like anything else, it just takes some practice to master it.