Dictionary Corner – Publishing Terms Translated

Have you ever spoken to someone in publishing or browsed the submission portion of an agency’s website and wondered what on earth we’re all talking about?

Well, wonder no more. Here in Dictionary Corner we will strive to shed some light on the technical jargon and industry lingos that often confuse new writers.

Synopsis – We don’t mean to patronise, we’re sure you know what ‘synopsis’ means. But this is what we personally want to see when we request a synopsis:

An outline of all the important events in the novel with no elusive references to what might happen or incomplete conclusions along the lines of ‘and what they discover will change their lives forever…’. Spoilers are well and truly welcome.

Ideally it will be a page long and will introduce all the major characters and themes as well as thoroughly giving away the ending.

Are there any terms we use that befuddle you? Please do let us know by leaving a comment or emailing assistant@darleyanderson.com and we’ll respond with our own personal definition just for you.

By Vicki Le Feuvre

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for the info! I’m always confused by the term ‘brief synopsis’ – I can easily provide a full 2 page synopsis, and cutting it down to a 1 page isn’t much of a problem, but ‘brief’ suggests to me that they only want a paragraph and it’s really hard to get more than a blurb into that! How long would you think a ‘brief’ synopsis should be? Thanks!

  2. barmybex says:

    Thanks, that’s helpful, my synopsis is a lot shorter, I can fill it out now.

    Q – It’s not really a definition, but when they ask for an author bio, should it be written in first or third person? Thanks

  3. Lorna says:

    Thanks for the advice as it is surprising how many interpretations of ‘brief synopsis’ pop up if I google. Better to learn it from you I suspect. Regards, Lorna

  4. I am glad this has received such a positive response.

    Rachel: generally speaking, keeping a synopsis to around a page in length can be a good choice as it will be long enough to get all the relevant information in but short enough so that it remains interesting and exciting for the person reading it. You are right, it is difficult to get anything more than a blurb into a paragraph. There is always the option of writing a ‘brief’ synopsis, i.e. a blurb, in your covering letter to agents and then including a one page synopsis with your submission as well. If they only want the blurb they can alway choose not to read the synopsis.

    Barmybex: I don’t think their is any specific rule about when it comes to submissions but I personally favour the third person for any sort of bio. I don’t know about you but I feel a little more comfortable bragging about myself if I can pretend someone else is doing it for me!

    And Lorna: I’m glad it helped. Thank you for the feedback.

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