Posts tagged with: synopsis

The Book Description and Ad Copy are Your Friends

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about why I had (reluctantly) embraced the synopsis. You can read the whole thing here, but the basic idea is this: by writing the synopsis before I started to write the book, I could make sure I had a story that was properly structured, with turning points in all the right places, so that it built to a satisfying climax.

Now that I’m self-publishing, I don’t write synopses anymore, but I do still outline my key turning-point scenes before I start writing. That’s a whole lot easier than writing a polished synopsis—yay!

Unfortunately, I’m not off the hook. The synopsis hurdle has simply been replaced by two others. Now I have to write the book description (that blurb you find on the back cover of the print book and on the book page at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, etc.) and the copy for any ads I want to run to promote the book.

I could save all this fun stuff (yes, that was sarcasm) for after I finish the book, but just like with my synopsis, I’ve found that it makes more sense for me to write them beforehand. Why? Because, left to my own devices, I write these convoluted plots that I absolutely adore, but that take pages and pages to explain to a reader. And, in a Facebook ad or book description, I don’t have pages.

By writing the ad copy and book description first, I know whether I can distill my hook down to a couple of short, compelling sentences. If not, no problem. I simply tweak the concept until I can—and I don’t have to rewrite a single word of my manuscript.

I start by writing my ad copy, because it’s the shortest. With only a couple of sentences to play around with, I stick with my hook rather than trying to give the reader a detailed description of the plot. I like to start with any popular romance tropes I’m planning to include in the book, and then show that I’ve put a unique spin on the tropes.

Example Facebook Ad - Pretty in Ink by Ava Blackstone

For example, the third book in my Voretti family series, Pretty in Ink, has both friends-to-lovers & fake relationship tropes. To put a unique spin on these familiar tropes, I gave my heroine an inconvenient tattoo of her ex-boyfriend’s name. Her (very conservative) parents are about to get their first look at the tattoo, and to keep them from freaking out and pulling the loan they’ve promised her to start her new business, she needs a boyfriend they approve of, with a name that matches her tattoo—and her childhood crush just happens to fit the bill. So, putting the tropes together with my unique spin, I came up with the following ad copy:

Liv needs a fake boyfriend whose name matches her tattoo. But can she survive a month with her childhood crush without falling in love for real?

You might have noticed that it doesn’t have all the details of my hook, like why Liv needs a boyfriend with a name that matches her tattoo—in a Facebook ad, I just don’t have the space—but it (hopefully) has enough to interest potential readers.

For my book description, I have more space, so I can expand on the ad copy to give some more detail. For Pretty in Ink, here’s my description:


Never close your eyes while you’re getting a tattoo—even if you have a pathological fear of needles.

All Liv Voretti wanted was a small, tasteful butterfly tattoo. What she got was her (now ex-) boyfriend’s name—the worst goodbye present in the history of the universe. With the tattoo about to be revealed thanks to a strapless bridesmaid dress, Liv comes up with a desperate plan to keep her judgmental parents from pulling their loan for her clothing design business. Convince the stable, responsible, incredibly hot family friend—who happens to have the same name as her ex—to pretend to be her boyfriend.

Even with your eyes open, sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you.

The Vorettis are the closest thing to family Caleb has, and he’s not about to risk that relationship for a fling with Liv. She’d be bored with his predictable, color-inside-the-lines lifestyle inside a week. They’re just not compatible, even if she is the last person he thinks about before he falls asleep.

But when Liv comes to him for help, he can’t say no—not when he’s the reason she ended up with her jerk of an ex in the first place. But as their pretend relationship becomes all too real, Caleb must decide whether he’s going to stick to the plan, or take a chance on a woman who isn’t the person he’s looking for, but might be exactly who he needs.


Once I have my ad copy and book description done, it’s time for the easy part (yep, more sarcasm)—writing the book.

What about you? Do you like writing ad copy & book descriptions? Hate it? Any tips and tricks to share?

The Seven Paragraph Synopsis

Synopses are evil.  When faced with the prospect of writing one, perfectly competent authors have been known to quake in their boots, hide under the bed, or indulge in M&M binges.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Advanced Planning

One lucky non-Ruby commenter on today’s blog will win an autographed copy of  WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE, coming to bookstores on March 1, 2011.

I recently drove fifty miles to a meeting with one of my critique partners.  We met at a restaurant I had never visited before, so, naturally, I did some advanced planning before setting out:  I plugged the restaurant’s address into my GPS.  I printed out written directions.  I took my cell phone with emergency numbers.  And I fired up my iPod with a  favorite playlist so I wouldn’t get bored during the hour I spent on the road.  

My planning didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the snow-covered landscape along the way, or the veal picata, wine, and friendship awaiting me at journey’s end. 

I write like I travel.  

Writing a Dynamic Synopsis

Writing synopses can be a daunting task.  Distilling your entire manuscript into a few measly pages often feels like an impossible job, but the unfortunate truth of the matter is that synopses are necessary.  There’s just no avoiding them.  You need them for many contests, you need them for submissions to editors and agents, and as your career progresses they become the basis on which you sell books you’ve not yet written.  So there’s no time like the present to get comfortable writing them. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be coherent.

I think of the synopsis as me sitting down and walking a friend through the story. You hit the high points, tell it in the voice of the book, and limit yourself to the details that are essential to the plot.  Easy, right?  Ha.  It’s never as simple as that in practice, is it?

Here are a few pitfalls to avoid:

The Synopsis is Your Friend

This is not one of those articles that’s going to explain how to write a synopsis in five easy steps.  And I am not one of those weird people who enjoy writing synopses (apologies, weird people).  Writing a synopsis can be excruciatingly painful.  But it’s worth it.  And not just because you generally need one to sell a book.  I love the synopsis because it lets me evaluate whether I have a novel or just a bunch of scenes stuck together.

The Latest Comments

  • Elizabeth Langston: You’re right–and it is a powerful lingering impression as the last phrase....
  • Darynda Jones: I like what you did here, Beth. I also like the first one. I like the line “determined to...
  • Elizabeth Langston: So I said to lead with city-keeper, and I didn’t do that. Let me take another stab....
  • Darynda Jones: Great pitch, Jenn! I love what you did with it, Beth. This stuff is so hard. LOL
  • Elizabeth Langston: I think this pitch is in good shape. But if I could try anything, I’d want to lead with the...