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Thread: What's the difference between query letter and synopsis

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
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    What's the difference between query letter and synopsis

    I am new to this and need a few things cleared for me. What's the difference between a query letter and a synopsis and if they are different, how long should a synopsis be and what all should it entail?

  2. #2
    Opinionated suki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vip_editing View Post
    I am new to this and need a few things cleared for me. What's the difference between a query letter and a synopsis and if they are different, how long should a synopsis be and what all should it entail?
    At the top of the Query letter Hell subforum in Share Your Work there are sticky threads on queries and on synopses. Check them out for in depth answers to these questions.

    But in short, the query letter is 350-400 words maximum, and is intended to hook the agent's interest in reading more. There are variations in form and structure, but it is at its miost basic a letter asking the agent if they would like to read more of your book - it must include your contact info, the title, wordcount and genre of the book you are querying, and a brief pitch of the primary plot. It is succinct and usually doesn't outline the entire plot.

    A synopsis can be of varying length and does include the entire story from beginning to end, including the end. Depending on length is how much detail you include regarding each plot point and subplot point.

    Almost all agents will want a query, only some will want a synopsis. And many will never ask for a synopsis prior to representation. having said that, I drafted a 1 page, 2 page and 5 page synopsis for my book, so that depending one what the agent asked for, i'd have something ready.

    Go check out the sticky threads in QLH.

    ~suki

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Danthia
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    A query letter is very similar to the copy on a book jacket. It gives just enough to tease you into buying it (or convince an agent/editor into asking for more).

    A synopsis is a summary of the whole novel designed to let an agent or editor see that you have enough stuff to fill a novel and that you know how to plot.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Pink Chick's Avatar
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    I have a similar-ish question. What is the difference between a "pitch" that you give live to an agent, and mearly rambling off your query letter out loud? Is the pitch just a brief intro to your book (a la query letter) or is it more like a super brief full synopsis of the story?
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  6. #6
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
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    Query: Hey Agent, I'm John Smith and I have a book you may be interested in. Basically it's about Superman and Lois Lane hooking up before the world blows up. Wanna read more?

    Synopsis: the following is exactly what happens, and yes, the ending included....


    A Query is a business letter. A query is a pitch, but a pitch may not be a query. You can pitch anywhere, anytime: in an elevator, at a bar, at the agent's office, etc. A pitch does the same thing: introduce yourself and your book and why the agents should read it.

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  7. #7
    In the end, it's just you and the manuscript job's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pink Chick View Post
    I have a similar-ish question. What is the difference between a "pitch" that you give live to an agent, and mearly rambling off your query letter out loud? Is the pitch just a brief intro to your book (a la query letter) or is it more like a super brief full synopsis of the story?

    LESS GOOD

    Agent: So tell me about your book.

    Writer: It's ummm ... well ... there are these two men, you see. And one of them can foretell the future and the other one can foretell the past and they're really spacemen, you see. Like they're in this spaceship and the Galactic Council says they can't give technology to the natives of this planet. They're like cats. The natives. And this one guy -- he's the one who can see the future. He's named Ransom. He has this love affair with one of the natives and he turns over this device with all the technology to the catwoman, like. She's a princess. And then . . .

    MORE GOOD

    Agent: So tell me about your book.

    Writer: It's a retelling of the myth of Epimetheus and Prometheus, but set in space. Lots of adventure with spaceships and alien races. It's plotted as a love story.


    The agent wants to know:
    1) have you finished it.
    2) Is it something she represents.
    3) Do you understand the basic principles of writing a novel.
    Last edited by job; 02-17-2011 at 04:06 AM.

  8. #8
    @LeaveItToIan IDGS's Avatar
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    A query usually contains a short synopsis, but a query and a synopsis are two different beasts.

    A synopsis is a short overview of your story - different publishers and agents prefer different lengths, but generally two pages is the max.

    A query letter is the 'prompt' to agents or publishers, pitching your novel.

    Query Letter Hell here is a great resource on how to write a dynamite query.


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