Book Synopses

thoughtsThis is supposed to be a Top 5 Wednesday post, but since I can’t off the top of my head think of a good list of books for this topic (the only one I can think of is the first Harry Potter book, the synopses in the Scholastic book flyer made it sound really boring and then our teacher read it to us….), I though I’d do a discussion post instead!  ….On a Thursday!

Let’s face it, a book summary can make or break a book.  Yet, writing just the right thing to summarize a book in order to appeal to the masses is the hardest part of of the entire process.  Or so they say.  It’s  delicate balance of giving enough detail to entice readers but not give away any major plot points as most people hate spoilers.  When done just right even a mediocre book will have flocks of people running out to buy it.  Done wrong and the book’s sales and reviews will reflect that.  

Every book is (hopefully) different, thus there is no right way to write a book summary and some books forgo the summary altogether and opt for an excerpt.  That being said, there are a few general no-no’s for book synopses and I thought I’d share with you some of my pet peeves. 

Firstly (and something the author doesn’t really have much control over), I hate reviews on the back of books, I wish that trend had died before it started. When I look at the back of a book I want to see a blurb or a summary of what is inside the book not a review of often times not even the book I’m holding but praise for the author’s previous novels.  When I want to see reviews I look at Goodreads or Amazon. 

I also can’t stand when the blurb/excerpt picked to entice readers is the first kiss of the two main characters.  It’s boring since it’s 90% of the excerpts I have read.  It personally makes me not want to read the book because I want more then just romance and a short kiss scene doesn’t actually give you a feel for what the book is about.  It also often spoils a moment that the author is trying to make you feel ~something~ whether it’s the ‘finally they kissed’ or the second-hand embarrassment or the ‘cuuuute’ feeling they are trying to get out the of scene.  Since you have no context you don’t get that feeling.  You don’t know the characters yet so you have no connection to them or what is happening.  

Generally speaking I dislike excerpts for this reason because they involve people that you have no connection to yet or events you have no knowledge of.  However, when done right excerpts can be very powerful.  Just read one of my personal favourites:

‘Commanders. Good ones, people with a knack for it […] they’re as rare as heroes. Commanders have an eye not just for what they do, but for what those around them do. Commanders size up people’s strengths and weaknesses. They know where someone will shine and where they will collapse. Other warriors will obey a true commander because they can tell that the commander knows what he- or she- is doing.’ Raoul picked up a quill and toyed with it. ‘You’ve shown flashes of being a commander. I’ve seen it. So has Qasim, your friend Neal, even Wyldon, though it would be like pulling teeth to get him to admit it. My job is to see if you will do more than flash, with the right training. The realm needs commanders. Tortall is big. We have too many still-untamed pockets, too curse many hideyholes for rogues, and plenty of hungry enemies to nibble at our borders and our seafaring trade. If you have what it takes, the Crown will use you. We’re too desperate for good commanders to let one slip away, even a female one.

It’s something like that, I don’t have the book handy and I know it’s edited down more but that is it.  To me, this summary sucked me right in. 

 

Another thing I dislike is when the summary of the book is comparing it to other books to try and sell it to you.  All of the ‘This is the New Hunger Games!!” and the ‘mix of Throne of Glass and Red Queen” or what-have-yous.  Sure they give you a sort-of idea of what the book is about but you go into it expecting something that likely isn’t there.  Or you go into the book knowing there is a high chance it’s a rip-off or mash-up of other works and not original.  Plus if you didn’t like the book it’s being compared to (Twilight, anyone?) the odds of you picking up that book are very slim.  

However, one thing that does work for me is if the book is sold to me ‘if you like these authors then check out this book’.  It’s a subtle difference, but for me it’s comparing the writing styles and the genera of the books and not the books themselves and makes be much more likely to pick up the book.  

Straight up lies about the book is something unforgivable and while very few books will lie in the summary, there are a good handful that will bend the truth, pitching the book as something it is not or over- or under-emphasising something major. Past character cameos is one of the things I can’t stand.  Sometimes the summary will play up the fact that old characters from a previous novel or series will show up in this one to get you to read it, and it’s true they do.  But there has been a time or three when I have read a book and the cameo is small and unimportant to the story.  Nice to see but not really what I was lead to believe it would be. 

The final thing I will mention before this post becomes too long or negative, is when the book does not clearly indict it’s in the middle of a series.  Sure this is also a cover design flaw (a way to sell more books because if you don’t know its the third book and not the first one the odds of you tracking down and buying the first one increase) but it really should be a higher priority to emphasize that the book is not the start of the series.  Doubly so when you really do need to read the first one for the next one to make sense.  Thankfully most books do a decent enough job of telling you ‘here there are other event before this book takes place, you might want to check that out’ but not all books do so, which is a great frustration to me. 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Book Synopses

  1. Very thoughtful post! And I agree with everything you said, too. Such a good point, here: “I also can’t stand when the blurb/excerpt picked to entice readers is the first kiss of the two main characters…It also often spoils a moment that the author is trying to make you feel ~something~ whether it’s the ‘finally they kissed’ or the second-hand embarrassment or the ‘cuuuute’ feeling they are trying to get out the of scene. Since you have no context you don’t get that feeling. You don’t know the characters yet so you have no connection to them or what is happening. ” So true, so true.

    ALSO RAOUL <333 I love that quote so much!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! I totally agree with you on so many points here! Please don’t compare this to that last BIG hit book, it usually doesn’t apply. I also hate seeing non professional reviews on the book. I don’t mind seeing another author recommend it, especially if I love the author (ex: I was a book with a snippet from a Stephen King review on the book, I bought the book and loved it).
    I do wish they would make it more clear if the book is part of a series. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

      • There are 2 ways, if it’s a internet image you can use the code and that’ll do it.
        If it’s on your computer you can upload it to your ‘add media’ media library. If it is saved as the right file type on your computer it’ll move when you do it that way. However I can’t really remember how I saved it onto my computer in the first place? I think for once it managed to save itself in the right file format so I didn’t need to yell at the computer to get it to work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So if I see it somewhere, I can just put in the HTML for the image, or do I need to Code it myself? Because I don’t know how to add images…I know how to copy and paste links, but I don’t know how to actually write in code…like, if I see a gif I like on Tumblr, or some place like that, do I just copy its code? I know these are probably stupid questions…I know that when I add images from my iPad, when it’s on the code part, it says imag href or something like that…
        Do you understand what I’m trying to ask? Is there a place you go for your images that already has the links available to put them in your post…or do you just do it on the comp?

        Like

      • So the code I gave you for images is all you need though I forgot to mention, you need to do that part in the ‘html’ tab when writing a post instead of the default ‘visual’ tab (you find this in the top right hand corner of all the bold, font, etc keys at the top of the post under the title). After you type in that code and switch back to the ‘visual’ tab you should see your image if you have done in right and when you click on it you can adjust the size and location.

        The /a part you see in code is used very often but I use it most when I go to link webpages. The code for webpage links is this (with the arrow brackets, not the square ones I’m using):
        [a href=]write something here so people have something to click on and know its a link to a different webpage[/a]
        I normally also bold it and make the font a different colour to make it clear.

        Again, you put in that code in ‘html’ tab and when you switch back to the ‘visual’ tab the text will be underlined (which won’t appear in the final post, the text will look the same as the text beside the link unless you adjust the font yourself).

        YOu can also preview posts to see if the font colours, images and links look and work correctly before you post the post!

        If any of this is confusing, I can do some screen shots of how I do some of these things so you can get a better idea!

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      • Also using the HTML code saves space in your media library, one of the reasons I have been using it, and if you get really good at code, you can also make it so the image (say of a book cover) when clicked on takes you to the goodreads page! I’d have to look up that code again since it’s been a while since I have done it (but it’d take like 30 seconds to do). That code would definitely use the “/a” ending on it which is basically just a code function to say that last bit of code is done now aka the end of the code for more complex codes.

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