Although I spent the past couple of weeks talking about the importance of reviews when purchasing a novel, it is so important that the synopsis, aka, the back of the book stays true to the novel. It’s a sad day when you have to read book reviews to figure out exactly what the novel is about. So what’s so important about a synopsis?
1) It prepares the reader. If the synopsis says something big is going down, the reader is going to expect it. Every page turned will lead them to wondering when. If that big thing doesn’t happen until the second to last chapter, then that reader will most likely be disappointed with the novel. Not because it’s poorly written, but because you prepared the reader for one thing and recieved another.
2) It is often your only introduction to the reader. If I have never heard of a certain author before and I am at a book store (gasp) then reading the back of the book is the only way to draw me in. I realize that the synopsis tends to throw everything possible at the reader to make the novel more enticing, but this can backfire. If it’s too compliated in 200 words, then I might think the novel is just too complicated. Or if its really vague, I’ve been known to pick up a novel and flip to the end just to reassure myself that it is a romance. Like any proper introduction, you cannot overshare and yet be so boring as to be forgettable.
3) It must consider the readers. There is this one author whom I enjoy greatly. But every synopsis for one of her novels is written to make her novels sound fun and exciting when there is so much more depth to her writing. Had it not been for the reviews, I never would have picked up any of her books. The synopsis sounded like the author dealt foolishly with a very serious subject matter. I do not understand the lure in making heros and heroines sound silly. I like to think that we are all (or mostly) adults and we do not need information dumbed down to have a good time.
4) Honesty. I have returned books when I cracked them open and realized that they were not what they said they would be. There is nothing worse than the promise of romance and its not one really. Like if its about the love of a mom and a daughter or something like that. Yes, that’s love, but that’s not what you sold it to me as. I purchased a book like that once and returned it unread. And though it has high reviews, I’ve yet to pick it up. I don’t like to be punk’d.
5) Hope it sticks. Ultimately, I realize writing a synopsis is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. There are certain phrases that will appeal to some readers and certain phrases that will turn off some readers. But, I think the best synopses (spelling ?) are mini novels not flashing trailers with all the high points and hoping that one of those catchy phrases will be the winner.
So anyone disagree? Anyone know what I’m talking about?