Query vs Synopsis: don’t send one in place of the other

A synopsis is not a query letter.

A query and a synopsis are two very different things and should not be replaced for one another.

Query: pitch including your hook, brief overview of the book in a captivating blurb, and short bio including your writing background and distinctions.

Synopsis: a summary of your work outlining all the plot points and major characters.

A synopsis should never be sent in place of a query. A synopsis typically does not make an agent want to request more. Your query should be enticing and intriguing, and a synopsis is straightforward and factual. You don’t want to be mixing these up or thinking a synopsis is a suitable substitute. A synopsis is useful in its own way once an agent does show interest.

Additionally, do not plunk a long synopsis into the middle paragraph of your query letter. Tailor it to be an enchanting overview paragraph that leaves the reader on edge.

I know it’s hard to take a step back and be objective of your work. Many writers think that their synopsis is important to show an agent the true strength of their book and its nuances, but I assure you that part of being a writer in today’s publishing landscape is knowing how to pitch yourself. And a query letter is the first step.

Learn query letter basics here.

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.

7 thoughts on “Query vs Synopsis: don’t send one in place of the other

  1. Here you say the synopsis should have all major plot points so I think you answered the question I asked on your other post. You include the ending in the synopsis, right?


      1. If it’s a mystery then, no, you don’t want to give it away. Think of the query letter like the back blurb of a book: majorly enticing and makes you want to read/request more, more, more! And if you give away then ending then there is no room for intrigue.


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