You are here:

Writing Books/build a synopsis



Dear Liz,

Thank you very much your helpful answers.
The Book agency requires a synopsis and the first 3 chapters. That's all.
Just one more question to make clearer things:

So do my synopsis need to contain the followings or these are parts of other's and not necessary:

- Table of contents
- main and minor charactors
- chapter outline (from chapter by chapter)

This is still a darkpoint to me. Some says they are important for my synopsis.

Thank you for your time again.

I am waiting for your reply.

Best Regards,



Followup To

Question -

Dear Liz,

I am Tibor. I'd like to ask some important information about 'how to build a synopsis'.

I know if one wants to sell his/her book (s)he has to write a query letter with a book proposal in order to rise the editor's attention.

I know that a querry letter is like a 'mini-synopsis' in a one page business letter format.

I read one of your amswers that you stated that the overview concerns to nonfiction books and the synopsis is for fictions. What if the book bases on a true story and some of the parts are fiction? What type would you recommend to use, the overview or synopsy?

I have other questions and I would be glad if you would answer just in a few short sentences.

- Thank you in advance! -

1. I would build my Book Proposal in the following way:

1. Query letter (one page)
2. a short summery of my book in a marketing   style
3. Technical Info about the book (number of pages)
4. Synopsis (one page)
5. Table of contents; main and minor charactors's discription and chapter outline
6. The sample of the first three chapters.

Do you think is it a good way for a book proposal or not? What order would you advise?

2. Some says that the book proposal with the synopsis and the sample chapters are advised to write them in double space. Why is this unwritten rule?

Thank you very much for your help in advance!

Sincerely Yours,

Tibor Konig

Answer -
Dear Tibor:

If there is any fiction in a book, then it should be presented as a 'novel based on a true story.'  So, you should write a synopsis as I described in the answer you read earlier.

As for what's the best proposal package:
1.  Query Letter
2.  Synopsis (can be up to five pages or the limit set by the agent/editor you're sending it to.)  Protagonist, Antogonist and Conflict should start the synopsis.  The technical info can be included in the synopsis and your credentials as to the technical information can be in your About the author section.
3.  Sample chapters up to the limit set by the agent/editor you're sending it to.
And that's it!

As for double spacing, it's not an unwritten rule, it's required in the publishing industry.  As an editor myself, I know how hard it is on the eyes, and difficult to edit, a manuscript that is single spaced.  Always double space!

Hope I've helped.  Let me know how it goes!

Liz Aleshire
Private Lives of Ministers' Wives, New Horizon Press

Hello again!

I wish there was one, and only one, answer to what is needed in order to get an agent or publisher.  But there isn't.

In this case, you know what the book agency wants:  A synposis and three sample chapters.  That's what you should send.  And only that.  If they didn't ask for a table of contents or a chapter by chapter, don't send it!  Not following the guidelines is one way an agent/editor could reject you immediately.  Only send what they ask for.

The other items on your list might be required by a different agent/editor.  It's a good idea to have them ready to go if someone asks for them.  But don't send them if they aren't asked for in the agent/editor's guidelines.

How I wish all the agents and publishers would get together and settle on one hard and fast rule for how to submit a proposal and what should be in it.  But that's not going to happen.  That's why, Tibor, it's essential that you do the reseach on each agent/publisher to get their guidelines and follow them.

Good luck!  Let me know how it goes.

Liz Aleshire
Random House Guilde to Antique Quilts

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]