Hook, Synopsis, Pitch: What’s the difference?

Something that can be very confusing is the terminology agents and industry professionals use in the submission and query process. Many agents and editors ask for different things so how do you know what is what?

Hook

One or two sentences on how your book is different from other books on the shelf and in your genre.

Synopsis

A detailed description of the plot points and the ending.

Pitch

One to three lines that describe your book in a sales-y way. How are you going to tell what your book is about, sell your book, attract attention, and stand out? It is a focused angle introducing the heart, high stakes and conflict of the story.

Query Letter

A combination of these things (one paragraph introduction/hook including genre and word count, one paragraph pitch, one paragraph author bio) including contact information so we know how to get ahold of you.

Tip

Prepare a one paragraph pitch, one page synopsis and three page synopsis to have on hand for whenever an agent or editor asks. Having this done ahead of time makes you look prepared and professional.

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16 thoughts on “Hook, Synopsis, Pitch: What’s the difference?

  1. Thanks again, Carly, for your invaluable insight. It’s clear that the hook/synopsis/pitch are very different beasts. And yet they combine in the form of a query letter or submissions package to sell both the manuscript and the author.

    Do you have a perspective on:
    (1) Differences in tone or writing style between the three, if any.
    (2) Writing and/or testing multiple versions of the hook/synopsis/pitch – whether slightly tweaked or radically different.

    Thanks!

    John

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  2. For the synopsis, is three pages the length to shoot for? I’ve heard everything from 2-10 pages (10?!), but am not sure if the length is more about specific agent preferences, or a standard ideal. In some cases, agents/agencies ask for a synopsis up front. In others, it’s not mentioned. Great advice to do it ahead of time, though. Imagine that if you pique an agent’s interest, sending a synopsis isn’t far behind.

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