View Full Version : Query letter vs. Synopsis

07-31-2014, 06:07 AM
I encountered an agent whose e-submission guidelines include both a query letter and a 1-2 page synopsis. Isn't the query letter already 3/4 or more synopsis? I'm trying to figure out how not to be redundant with my submission.

I'm not complaining, I'm trying to clarify what each item should look like placed together in the body of an e-mail so I can submit my work in the correct format. Bonus points for side-by-side examples of queries and separate synopses. I can find synopses and query examples, but not what they look like when submitted together for the same book.

07-31-2014, 06:16 AM
They have different purposes, and you *should* encounter redundancy between the two.

A query shows that you have a good premise that hooks the agent (and hopefully readers). It makes the agent want to read pages and even that dreaded synopsis.

The synopsis shows that you can write a coherent novel with a beginning, middle, and end that flows logically. Everything mentioned in your query should be in the synopsis.

To see examples, go check out QLH. Synopses aren't in there as frequently as queries, but you can find examples of both, sometimes for the same novel.

Old Hack
07-31-2014, 11:37 AM
A query letter is a selling tool. It's designed to grab attention, be intriguing, and make people want to know more about your book. Query letters routinely miss out sub-plots, characters, and all sorts. And they're short: no more than a few hundred words, and never more than a single page. They are often written in the voice of your book.

Synopses tell the reader what happens in the book from beginning to end. They include the ending, while queries often don't. They aren't designed to intrigue: they are designed to show that you have plotted a coherent book. They are often relatively flat to read, and are not written in the voice of your book. They usually run to two pages or so, sometimes a lot longer (it depends what you're asked for), and contain much of the detail that a query cannot include.

07-31-2014, 05:36 PM
Isn't the query letter already 3/4 or more synopsis?
Nope. You need to do more research...


07-31-2014, 11:38 PM
This feels like a college homework assignment. I'm smiling as I type, but it's true. First compose a couple paragraphs of tight and interesting prose about the book (go to B&N and read book jackets if you're confused about format or tone)...then take those same paragraphs and turn them into 1-2 pages by including the complete story arc this time. (I hope I have that right).

Weasel, I feel like I've poured over hundreds of examples and morsels of advice during the hobby/maybe years spent thinking about submitting (but not) and while all writer/agents seem to blog on the topic not all agree on some points. I went with the "sound bite" advice morsels for the body of the query so maybe "synopsis" wasn't the proper term for it.

The Dreaded Synopsis isn't so bad once the blank page stops being blank, so it's done. I'll shut it away for a week then reread it. Thanks guys, you've been helpful.

08-01-2014, 12:33 AM
welcome to aw.

go visit query letter hell. read all the stickies and a page or two of query threads.

that DOES sound like homework, but so does editing or any other part of the craft, That said, your time will be well-spent.

08-17-2014, 06:41 PM
I've been having trouble distinguishing what should go into a query letter and what should go in a separate synopsis. This thread helped a lot! :)

Dennis E. Taylor
08-22-2014, 08:17 PM
What about the tone? Is the synopsis more clinical? I.E. you're not trying to "sell" the story?

08-22-2014, 08:36 PM
ideally your synopsis should have voice too, but *I* always felt it was less important there....in a perfect world use it but the synopsis is more a summary, the query is sort of a flash-fiction distillation of the story's MC and their problem, so ideally it keeps a similar tone and voice.

08-25-2014, 09:28 PM
I was up till 2am last night researching agencies, agents, and submission guidelines to answer that same question. What I found was that the query--written in your book's voice--hooks the agent, then the synopsis should include all the same points that originally grabbed your agent, plus the rundown of your manuscript--with spoilers and ending. Agent blogs vary, but although I'm hearing that the synopsis isn't as important for full manuscript requests (as they want to read the manuscript first, so set it aside for later), they still ask that it be well-written, in same voice, told as a sort of narrative.

Like all things, though, I guess it depends on who you're submitting it to. Just check their guidelines. Hope that's a little bit helpful! :)