A synopsis is the play-by-play of your novel. A pitch is a to-the-point email or letter that focuses on the hook, the conflict, and why it matters for the protagonist–and why an agent should read your book!
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Some of you reading might think, “So what? If an agent wants to represent me, won’t they want the synopsis?” The answer is no, not in the query letter.
A query letter is not a synopsis. A query letter’s job is to get an agent to want to read more. A synopsis is to share when the agent is already interested, perhaps already requested your chapters, and needs to know the plot outline.
If you pitch us a synopsis and not a query:
1. It ends up being too long. A query should only be three paragraphs long. A query with a synopsis pasted in goes on and on. Agents stop reading.
2. We are missing things like the stakes and the motivation. A synopsis is a play by play, when what we REALLY want is to know why this book is different than all the others out there. Sell us on it.
3. You’re not following the guidelines and it can be an instant rejection. There is a specific difference between a query and synopsis. Some agents will consider this not following the guidelines and it can be an auto rejection.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU QUERY IS ACTUALLY A QUERY?
- Does it read like back cover copy?
- Does it refrain from giving away the ending unless it’s absolutely necessary?
- Is it three paragraphs long? (Intro, Pitch, Author bio.)
- Does it focus on why your book is different?
- Does it directly or indirectly touch on all of these things: character, their growth, their stakes, and their motivation?