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?


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


A detailed description of the plot points and the ending.


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.


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.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

18 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.




    1. 1) Synopsis is factual. Hook and pitch are sales-y back cover blurb type of tone.
      2) You should be writing many versions to find the right one that works for you and the book. Test it on beta readers and anyone that will listen! You want to elicit the right response/reaction.


  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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