How to easily write a nonfiction synopsis

Are you a debut author struggling to write a great synopsis for your completed (or almost completed!) nonfiction book? This blog will explain how to easily write a non-fiction synopsis nonfiction synopsis to submit to your chosen publisher(s) by:

  • Explaining what a synopsis is and why it is essential for publishers;
  • Outlining an effective, memorable structure for your nonfiction synopsis;
  • Detailing how a nonfiction synopsis differs from a fiction synopsis.

Recently, I have worked with debut independent authors editing and proofreading their forthcoming nonfiction books. The authors have each researched publishers in their fields of writing and chosen who they would like to submit their completed manuscripts to. After carefully checking the publishers’ standard submission guidelines, the authors needed to submit three completed chapters, a synopsis and a cover letter. However, the indie authors were confused about what a synopsis was and why it was needed. This is a common problem, which can be easily solved. Follow the guidelines below to write your own impressive nonfiction synopsis!

What is a synopsis and why is it important for publishers?

A synopsis is simply a brief, but complete, summary of your book. It needs to outline what your book is about in an interesting and authoritative way. Keep it to one page to be as concise as possible.

The Literary Consultancy explains: ‘The purpose of a synopsis is to inform a literary agent or publisher of the type of book you are writing/have written in a concise, appealing fashion, conveying that you are in command of your subject matter. If you want your manuscript to be given serious consideration, a good synopsis is a crucial part of your submission.’

Therefore, a synopsis has the potential to sell the premise and content of your book. A well written synopsis stands a much better chance of success than a few rambly, unstructured pages or simply relying on using paragraphs from your book itself.

What is a simple and effective structure for my non-fiction synopsis?

Using the acronym PODGED, a non-fiction synopsis should:

  1. Present the problem or question your book addresses in a way that makes it seem essential reading to those both familiar and not familiar with the subject;
  2. Outline specifically who would be interested in this problem or question, to demonstrate existing interest in your book;
  3. Demonstrate why readers should care enough about the problem or question you are writing about to want to read a book about it;
  4. Give an indication of how you, the writer, intends to present your case, outlining your approach and content;
  5. Explain why YOU are the best-qualified person in the world to write this book;
  6. Demonstrate why the book will appeal to a large enough market to make publishing it worthwhile and hopefully profitable!

How does a non-fiction synopsis differ from a fiction synopsis?

Non-fiction books by their very definition are factual and informative. A nonfiction synopsis should outline how the book will solve a problem for the reader. The purpose of fiction is to entertain so a fiction synopsis should outline the storyline in a way that will immediately appeal to a target (and general) readership. Therefore, a very different type of synopsis is required for each.

Writing a nonfiction synopsis is not something to be rushed so take your time to craft the words carefully. Publisher(s) will be making judgements about your book based on your synopsis, as well as any chapters you submit. Above all, ensure your non-fiction synopsis is clear, compelling and, extremely importantly, completely error-free.

As my author did, you might choose to ask your editor to advise you on how to write your nonfiction synopsis. If you are working to a tight deadline or would prefer some assistance with it they should be happy to help; after all, they know your book almost as well as you do!

I hope this blog post has helped you with how to write a non-fiction synopsis – let me know how you get on with writing yours. Alternatively, feel free to contact me to write, edit or proofread it for you!

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