What Is The Summary Of A Book Called? A Simple Explanation 

by CJ McDaniel // May 4  

As an author, you may be required to write a summary of your book at some point in time. If you intend to publish your book using traditional publishing, you’ll need to prepare a book summary. It’s a requirement for submission to agents and publishers.

So, your book summary should spark their attention and interest them. It should represent your book so well to make your agent or publisher read your manuscript.

This post will explain what a book summary is and how you, as an author, can write a good book summary. So, grab a seat and read to the end.

So, here’s a critical question.

What is the summary of a book called?

The summary of a book is called a synopsis. It shows an overview of the story and answers the question, “what is your book about?” Also, it serves as a way to pitch your book to a potential agent or publisher. They’ll also use it to determine if your book is marketable.

It’s essential to add it to the query letter you’ll send to the agents and publisher. Also, it can play a part when you’re writing your blurb (a short description at the back of your book). So, if you write a good synopsis, it won’t be a hassle to construct your blurb.

Furthermore, your synopsis carries the essence of your book, and it contains essential elements. Sometimes writing a summary of your story before you start writing the book can be a great guide. It’ll make it easier for you to edit and develop your synopsis when you’re through.

What Makes A Good Book Summary?

The correct format: 

Write the synopsis in the present tense and tell the story as if it’s to someone close. Also, please don’t write in passive voice so that it’ll engage the reader. Ensure that you write in the third person point of view.

So it doesn’t matter the point of view in which you have written your book; a synopsis should be a narration. The third person allows smooth reading of the summary, and the present tense engages the reader.

Furthermore, write in 12pt Times New Roman or any easy-to-read font. You should also double-space your work. But if it’s a one-page synopsis (as the agent or publisher requires), use a single space. Your margin should be one inch. Also, number the pages, use paragraph indention, include your name, and add the title.

Additionally, when you mention a character for the first time, write their name in all caps. It makes it easy to identify the characters. Note that each agent or publisher might have formatting they prefer, so use their guidelines; if none, stick to these.

Short and concise: 

Most agents or publishers require between one to five pages. It shows that your synopsis should only contain the essential details. Your crucial plot points are what determine if an agent or publisher will read your manuscript.

Follow their guidelines to ensure they read what you submit. Also, avoid excesses in your summary. Go straight to the point of your story.

Accurate: Your synopsis should represent your book well. If it’s poorly written, the agent or publisher may misinterpret what the story is. So use a writing voice that will show your story. Also, add the correct details to improve the accuracy of your synopsis.

Contain the category:

Your summary should state the genre that you’re writing. Even if it contains lots of plot twists, it should show the main features of the genre. It should state if the book is fiction or non-fiction, and even the subgenre such as the novel category.

What Are The Elements Of A Book Summary?

Your book summary may not contain all the elements. However, it should contain some of them to make it appealing.

Setting: It’s usually where your story begins. It includes the location, background, and timeframe of the story.

Characters: It shows some important details about the character. However, it doesn’t include the looks and unnecessary details. Not all characters should appear in your synopsis. It should include only the major characters and one or two others that are essential.

Emphasize the motivations of your character that will move him to resolve the conflict.

Plot points: Your synopsis should include your major plot points. It doesn’t need to contain the subplots. It should show the major decisions the character makes.

Conflict: This refers to an obstacle the character must face to reach a goal. It should be clear, and overcoming it should be clear too.

Emotion: It should give out a feeling from the story. It also makes the synopsis lively. Also, if your synopsis is dull, then it’ll interpret your story to be too.

Action: It should only be added to your synopsis when it brings about an actual result in the plot. Be careful not to add excesses or irrelevant actions.

Dialogue: It’s only valuable for a synopsis when it carries more impact than describing the conversation. In that case, you should use only a few lines of dialogue.

Climax: This refers to the height of the action you’ve been building up. It should contain the hero’s success and the villain’s failure.

Resolution: It shows the conclusion of the story. It should answer all the questions here. Also, there should be no suspense in your synopsis.

Steps On How To Write A Book Summary

Have the basics written down: 

When writing a synopsis, you must include everything that demonstrates the book to the fullest. However, it would be best to start by writing the basics to demonstrate what your book is. These include your major plot points and your character motivations.

The central plot points include what incites the story’s conflict, what happens at the rising action and how it builds tension, the climax of the story (which is exciting), and the ending. If you list the points effectively, it will show the line of action in your story. So, the reader (agent or editor) will follow it easily.

Furthermore, for the character motivation, focus on it at the start and end of your synopsis. You don’t need to write in-depth about the character’s behavior, lifestyle, looks, or personality. It’s so because you don’t have space for too many explanations in your book summary.

So, start by using the character motivations to justify inciting the conflict and let it bring about the resolution.

Emphasize what’s unique: 

Show what’s special about your book. You should spice up your book summary by showing the elements that make it unique. It’ll enable agents to see why readers will buy your book. So, it assures them that your book is appealing.

Some of the features are voice, plot twists, and point of view. The voice is the tone of your story and makes it unique. However, it can be challenging to show it in such a small write-up. But your word choice, including how you structure your sentence can reveal your writing voice.

If your book has one or more twists, it should reflect in your synopsis. But don’t give out too much so that it’ll be more exciting when it shows up. For instance, you can write, “John came home one evening to find that his family has vanished.” That means they may not be gone, giving room for you to reveal it later.

Furthermore, a specific point of view can set your book apart. It is beneficial when your book has a unique point of view. Also, since you’ll write in the third person, you can add it as a sentence. For example, “This book is narrated from the point of view of a bird.”

Edit and remove excesses: 

Even if your book is mystery fiction, make it clear and understandable to your agent. Let them know what happens in the book. So, after you write your synopsis, edit it. Unlike your story, a synopsis requires you to “tell, not show.”

So, check for sentences that are not clear. You may delete vague texts, especially at the beginning. It should also be to the point; you don’t have the space to play around words. Also, if your summary is more than a few pages, you will need to reduce it.

Furthermore, read through your synopsis and remove unnecessary words and phrases. Ensure you remove irrelevant details like anything that doesn’t contribute to your plot point or writing voice. Your synopsis should be on point.

Make sure it flows: 

When you finish your summary, it should be apparent and concise. Also, it should contain the essential points, emphasize crucial parts, and be smooth. To ensure it flows well, give it to your friends or professional editors to go through it. Also, listen to their suggestions.

Additionally, it would help if you go through other samples of synopses. Compare them to yours and use any patterns that will enhance it.


Now, you have an understanding of what the summary of a book is. It would be best if you utilize this to improve the way you write your summaries.

Remember that your synopsis is representative of your book. So, if you write a great synopsis, the chances of the agent or publisher accepting your work will increase.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!