Friday, January 13, 2012


A book proposal generally consists of three parts:
  • Covering letter
  • Synopsis
  • The first two or three chapters
The Covering Letter

Keep it simple and brief. State what you are enclosing, include the title of your book, word count, genre, theme and if you have any other publications.

Example: I enclose for your consideration a synopsis and the first three chapters of a 100,000 word supernatural thriller called, ‘After Midnight’. ‘After Midnight’ is a story about a detective who is looking for a murderer who is on a killing spree in a usually peaceful coastal village. He soon discovers he isn’t dealing with your average murderer. After Midnight’ is my second novel.

The Synopsis

The main reason for writing a synopsis is to attract an editor’s attention. Let us not fool ourselves, competition is fierce, the supply exceeds the demand and your task here is to get your manuscript read. Your synopsis is your sales pitch.

From your synopsis an editor will decide whether your story is a commercially viable product. So do not underestimate the power of your synopsis. Is your story unique? Does it have some special quality?

A synopsis is usually one or two pages long. In a general synopsis you should include:

  • Title and setting
  • Introduce your main characters
  • The conflict and drama
  • The mood/tone/atmosphere
  • What is special and unique about your story
  • Turning point of your story. Which scene changes everything?
  • The climax
  • Conclusion – draft a satisfying sentence
NOTE: Some genres need to be treated a little differently. For example in a crime synopsis you would include the progress of the investigation, revealing the clues and twists and turns. An editor wants to know if the story works and the plot is believable.

The first two or three chapters

The opening paragraph must contain a hook which grabs the reader’s attention; a clue as to the content of your book. The first page should set the tone of your book; romance, thriller, science fiction etc. The first chapter is of crucial importance – pivotal. It needs to be interesting enough to stimulate the reader’s interest or curiosity to want to read more. There is no point if your story swings into action in chapter five. From the very first page of your novel your task is to lure the reader into your story. Strive to make your manuscript a winner from the beginning to the end.

NOTE: Always check with editors/agents what their requirements are. There may be certain variations from the above information. Give yourself the best possible chance in the first place by meeting their requested requirements.

Keep writing....


  1. Sigh. You make it sound so simple. In a way I suppose it really is simple - although not at all easy.

  2. A good overview, Diane - as Patsy says, if only it were as easy to get it published!

  3. Thanks again for leaving a comment Patsy. I think if we approach all those things we consider difficult one step at a time it does make it a little more simple. x

  4. Thank you Rosemary. Us writers and our love of writing! We do the mammoth job of writing a novel, but it doesn't stop there does it? Searching for an agent/publisher, then the marketing side of things - all starts to make the writing of the novel seem like the easy part! :-)

  5. Great advice here, Diane. Thank you for sharing.


  6. You're welcome Suzanne. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment :-)