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How Long Should Your Book Synopsis Be?

So, after painstaking research to locate the right literary agent and hiring a professional to craft a professional query letter for your pitch, you’ve received a response—the agent wants a synopsis. Great! But there’s one problem. The agent gives you no indication of the desired length.

If simply phoning your agent to ask about the length isn’t an option, how do you know how long your book synopsis should be?

If you search online to learn the ideal book synopsis length, you’ll find highly conflicting information. Some sources will recommend submitting synopses only one or two pages in length, presenting only the basic idea of the book. Some suggest producing a synopsis that reaches up to 25 pages. Others strike a balance and recommend something in the middle of these two extremes.

But don’t get too caught up in the page count. It’s important to keep in mind that a book synopsis is really a sales tool. You’re writing it to evoke interest from an agent or editor in your book. Ultimately, content is more important than length.

First, write your book synopsis in the present tense—this will make it more vivid.

Pique your agent’s interest. The idea of a synopsis is to make the agent want to read your book, so treat it a bit like a book jacket blurb. There’s one important difference, though: you have to reveal the ending so the agent knows the structure of the plot is reasonable.

Demonstrate your writing prowess. Even if your synopsis is only one page, that one page can reveal a lot about your writing skills.

Include only the most important details. Use your book synopsis to explain the general plot arc and the final resolution of the identified conflict. The description should primarily be about your main character(s)—secondary characters are mostly irrelevant. Keep character names to a minimum, and mention subplots only in passing, if at all.

Less is more. If your agent hasn’t specified a length for your synopsis, it’s better to err on the side of “too short” than “too long.”

By focusing on content and following these guidelines, you can write a synopsis that’s the right length for your book. Take your time and compose your synopsis carefully and meticulously. And if you haven’t gotten to this stage yet and still need to write a convincing query letter, ask the professionals to write a top-notch query letter for you.



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