How To Snag a Publisher First Time With Your Synopsis

How To Snag A Publisher First Time With Your SynopsisMy lovely writing tutor Esther, recommended a brilliant phenomenal book: Write a Great Synopsis – An Expert Guide by Nicola Morgan. Now I don’t have much time to read, and shamefully I have only read a handful of books this (last) year. But this nifty little critter is 54 pages.

1. If you don’t have time to read 54 pages to help you write your synopsis then give up now.

2. These are not 54 normal pages. They are 54 pages littered with the purest gold dynamite I have ever experienced.

3. Go immediately to amazon and purchase this book, here! I promise you it won’t disappoint.

You know me, can’t help but share what I learn, and these nuggets blew my mind:

I’m going to find this hard not to share all the wisdom, but it’s only right that you go buy the book and learn from it yourself, after all, she poured blood sweat and tears into her book.

So I thought I would share some of the highlights that really blew my mind:

But first let me ask you a question.

What is your book about?

No, I don’t mean the plot, I mean the heart of it? What lies underneath all the words? (other than your blood, sweat and tears.) Is it about love? Loss? Choices? What drives your story? Because that’s what you need to show in your synopsis.

What is an outline?

An outline is detailed and probably quite long. It’s a breakdown of everything in your novel, including major and minor characters, subplot, chapters and twists. It helps you determine that your timeline, plot and story work.

It’s a super useful tool… for yourself. It is not useful for a prospective agent or publisher.

Outlines are long and detailed.

What is a synopsis?

A synopsis focuses on the main characters, their motivations, the conflict they face, in the setting they experience it and the themes that come out of it. A synopsis also conveys the writers voice and how you have connected it all together, including the ending.

A synopsis does not cover subplots and minor characters. It doesn’t cover anything that isn’t vital to the story.

Synopses are short and sweet

How do you do it?

Because this is an actual paid for book, and its so short, I won’t include much detail – and instead suggest you pay for it, read it and take your own notes. But effectively, you:

  • Write a 1 sentence 25 word pitch*
  • Expand till you have a hook paragraph
  • Expand again – add the ending including how the protagonists journey is completed.
  • Ensure that climaxes and plot stages and major obstacles are noted

Other tips – Write in the third person, EVEN if your story is written in the first. Write in the present tense and always, always include the ending. Don’t be cryptic – if it’s important to the plot, it goes in, if it isn’t, get rid.

That’s it, I won’t divulge any more of Morgan’s gold dust, you will have to read it yourself.

There’s a plethora of other information like:

  • How to organise a non linear book into a synopsis or,
  • How to write a synopsis of a book from multiple view points
  • Some excellent analogies that visually depict a synopsis and gave me some epiphanies
  • The level of detail you should, or should not include
  • Three examples of synopsis, critiqued and then rewritten to their full potential (I love a worked example)
  • Crappy Memory Tool
  • How to do it for Non-Fiction novels
  • *An explanation for how to create an AWESOME 1 sentence 25 word pitch

I’ve read the book, and subsequently followed the instructions and written a synopsis. I cannot tell you how invaluable this process was. Here’s why:

1. I need to edit. Only, I’d forgotten my book and was getting really caught up wanting to know what happened in every chapter before I could edit. But I didn’t need to know it all because, what’s important is knowing the heart of your story. The themes, the arcs and the development.

2. Writing it without looking at the manuscript, helped me uncover plot holes and also showed me what was important to story rather than focusing on the subplots and details I focused on the bigger picture something I prefer anyway.

3. Finally, it’s helped me see what my story ACTUALLY is rather than what I thought it was. But and here’s the clincher for me, it’s shown me how and what edit and specifically the timeline. Because, instead of worrying about the subplots I focused on the important bits and the important characters and work their story into the right timeline.

Write A Great SynopsisI HIGHLY recommend you trot along and read the entire book, cover to cover, repeatedly. Oh, and take notes!

I’ll leave you with one of my fave quotes from the book:

“When you edit your work, use a red pen; when you edit your synopsis, use a scythe.” Nicola Morgan – Write A Great Synopsis



Please note, I have not been paid, or asked to read or review this book by anyone (other than my tutor who said it would help me) I am recommending this book purely because I read it and loved it and think in my humble opinion it will help others.

For those of you that haven’t visited my bookshelf of recommended reads for writers, check out other books for writers here.

What writing books have you found to be full of golden nuggets?

If you liked this post, subscribe here to get writing tips, tools and inspiration as well as information on the release of my books.


      1. It was recommended by Barbara Henderson (Bea Davenport) and was a godsend when I was writing the synopsis for Joe and Nelly – still no joy with that but I’m waiting for the results of the Times Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. What good thinking Christina – Yes I suspect it is – she has written a number of other books too actually – some of which I am certain will have advice on that too. 🙂


  1. Sounds great. I have a lot of respect for Nicola Morgan. She came to speak to a writers’ gathering I organised and was brilliant on how to use social media effectively. I think she’s written on that topic, too.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She was good.
        Yes, I’m UK based. At least, I live in Scotland which is, for now, still part of the UK. I’d love to be at the bloggers bash. I read all about last year’s on the various blogs with a degree of envy as everyone seemed to have a whale of a time. Is it in London again?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is in London – 11th June this year – announcing the venue next week. Scotland is a bit of a kiss ion for you to come – but I’d love to meet you. I’ll keep everything crossed u can make it.

        What part of Scotland? I have family in Edinburg and Perthshire

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The book sounds great, Sacha. I’m going to purchase it – not because I’m planning on writing any synopses in the near future – but because I like how you say it was useful in distilling your work to the major theme, events, plot points, etc. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHH yes – seriously I could not believe how helpful it was. I was TERRIFIED about starting to edit – believe me I honestly thought for a while there I’d never publish because I couldn’t pick up that first draft – but having written the synopsis I have sort of half edited it – ok, not, because theres still 90K to edit, but I mean its all ordered in my head – plot holes figured out, all sorts. I hope you find it helpful. let me know 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds great. My tutor at uni took us through synopsis writing and the points you made are all there. So helpful isn’t it to have someone short circuit the learning this way. And great it’s helping with the editing. That’s fab.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad u like it – and yeah – I went through a spell of trying to read everything I could on how to write – less so now – too tarnished from contradictory shit. I think that’s why I just quietly go about my own learning and share what I find – people can take it or leave it. But they are my lessons – and I love nothing better than having it broken down for me – she is amazing and I suspect I will read more of her books.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing – I am announcing the venue on the 15th – and we are busy organising in the background. Ooh, I shall hop skip to google maps to see where that is – the only places I have been in the west of Scotland is Machrihanish, actually and Glasgow.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This article speaks to me… nah! It sings to me… literally. I had to write a synopsis for my book, which happens to be written in 3 POVs along with snippets of journal-entry of the protagonist.
    And trust me, I went CRAZY trying to figure out how to do it. Thankfully my beta reader helped me out, and it all turned out to be great. But as I’m approaching the 2nd draft of my second novel, I’m dreading what’s waiting for me at the end of this all…. another synopsis…
    But now I think this is just what I need! I’m going to get this book ASAP. Thanks a lot, Sacha for such an amazing post!!!


    1. I am so glad you like it Heena. I really hope it helps too. Interesting about the 3POVs. I wrote a piece about multiple points of view just a couple of weeks ago. Are you writing it in the 1st person?

      I think this book is really going to help you :). Lovely to meet you and thanks for stopping in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, and no. There are multiple narratives. Two, the female and male MC’s POV is in first person and the third one is in 3rd person. And as I said the fourth one is in the for of journal entries.
        I’ll definitely check out your post on POVs. Thanks.
        It’s great to meet you too.
        Have a great day!


      1. Good question. I guess I want two books finalised ready for publication, whether I publish this year depends on whether I bother to try going the trad route. Really undecided as it stands. :s

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Screaming right now – I must buy this! OMG – what a blog moment for me reading this! It sounds amaze balls and it makes a subject which makes me hide under the bed sound easy. Bless Esther!


      1. From the north Southport, I am really keen to meet other bloggers over here… How do you find out where someone’s from though. I am a new blogger really… And yea Aloha. Where are you?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll have to google southport.

        I’m just north of London.

        How do I find out? Usually I ask!! Or I know because of talking to them for a while. I’ve been around the bloggisphere a looooong time!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It sure does, I was happy to help one person when I started blogging. But I think it’s going to affect so many more or has. I just aim to encourage the world. Not much really to ask is it. U know someone struggling with their health send them my way, I have beaten cancer twice… 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well I don’t know about that ☺️ it’s been one hell of a 5 year fight.. I would not recommend it. But I write to help others believe. I run a support group to.. It’s rewarding stuff. I will be at the next one, may even see what you think to doing one in the north? We see. And thank you x

        Liked by 1 person

      5. A couple of people have mentioned having one in the north it’s a possibility but with so many people coming from abroad at the moment I think we will keep it to London because of the transport links and the committee are all based in the south of the country. But hey this is only our second year so maybe one day

        Liked by 1 person

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