Synopses: advice appreciated


This is my first post. I am currently (at nearly 50 years old) writing my first novel. I am 84,000 words in and aiming for a ball park of around 95,000. It started as a bit of a hobby, with little expectation that it would evolve into a novel. But it is taking shape. I have found my limited levels of creativity have meant that I have relied more on experience, observation and a bit of proselytizing in developing the content of my book. I am far from happy with it but will plug away in the hope it takes further shape.

I have shared the work so far with only two friends and got positive feedback, which has given me an important shot in the arm. I have however now been advised that I should bring a bit more formality to the process, part of the evolution of the book from hobby to potential vocation, I guess. Formality in the sense that I should consider making contact with a publisher.

But - and please excuse my ignorance - I don’t know how to go about that and wondered if any of you fellow scriveners had any advice to share on how to approach that, in terms of the actual contact (whom and where to find them) and the content of what I would share. I have been advised - by my friend - that a sample chapter and a synopsis of the work, would be the least they would expect. But I confess to not knowing what a synopsis actually looks like (I am sure it is more than a summary) or how to go about picking the most appropriate chapter to share. If anyone can point me in the direction of a standard format (or examples) of a synopsis which I could use that would be a god send. Or even just to a place where I can start to get a clearer picture of what I need.

Many thanks all for sparing the time to read this; I look forward to hearing any suggestions.

Best wishes, John

Jane Friedman (editor, publisher, professor) has a useful blog post on this subject, with links to additional resources:

That’s immensely helpful Briar. Many thanks. John

Here’s the “Send Us Your Work” page from a literary agency my wife runs. Most important advice: get an agent before you approach any publishers.