Just because there is not physically the back of an e-book to look at does not make the description that occurs there with traditional books any less important. The Product Description of an e-book, the Synopsis, is the main peek into your novel that a possible reader has. Sure, in Amazon, they get a chance to preview a few chapters of your book; later on they may read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. The text that gives them the motivation to look at reviews or sample chapters however is the book synopsis, making it incredibly important.
I do not believe there is honestly any one specific way to do an excellent book synopsis. At its heart what you want to do is obvious; create a desire for your prospective reader to read your book. However different people respond to different things and each novel has its own unique challenges in how to give a compelling summary.
Some people only want to read a book if the characters sound like something that hooks them. However what if you are doing a novel with enough twists that you do not want who your protagonists are to be obvious from looking at the back of the book? It might be due to rapid death of obvious protagonists, cases where the protagonists and antagonists switch, or even people who seem to be background characters at first are the true ones the spotlight will be on. When this happens vague descriptions help, or focusing on the character aspects you think will hook people, even if it misrepresents the novel (such as focusing on someone who seems a hero but will be a villain, if the description of the person is compelling inside a synopsis).
Other times the plot itself has so many twists (think like the original Matrix) that an accurate description might ruin the impact of the narrative. In these cases one must focus on the characters in a synopsis, point out the compelling points of the obvious narrative, and then give small hints of the hidden twists (enough to intrigue) without giving it away.
In the fantasy and sci fi genres (and modern horror or paranormal books) just talking about the world and the types of people might be able to help hook a reader, but only if it is unique enough. Merely stating there is magic and an evil god that must be defeated won’t hook a fantasy reader any more than a paranormal reader really cares if you have a vampire werewolf romance. This technique can be used in contemporary non supernatural novels too, think about how many movie trailers start with the phrase “ IN A WORLD…”
One of the best techniques, and it can combine several of the above focuses, is to have a description that makes the reader curious in general. Make statements or ask questions that makes them demand to know more. The larger the questions, or the more paradoxical the revelations seem, the more your reader will want the book just to assuage their curiosity.
No matter how good your book is, if you can’t hook your reader with at least one of three tools (good synopsis, great cover, positive word of mouth) no one will try it in the first place. I will be covering some of the others in future blogs. As for now, all of these things are on my mind as we get closer to releasing “Mandatory Paradise.” Here are some possible synopsis. This may be familiar to long time readers of this blog, when I was getting close to releasing the Fall of House Nemeni. Like before, pick which description you like below. However, please feel free to correct or enhance the current ones, or offer entirely new synopsis’ in the comments or PM/email to me. You can also combine elements of multiple ones, but still please choose one of the below synopsis as where I should start my framework.
Synopsis for Mandatory Paradise
A) On the Island of Nimoa everything is seemingly perfect. All of its citizens needs are met from shelter to sustenance to entertainment. Everyone has a role assigned to and safety is guaranteed. The monsters cavorting in the skies outside the city ensures no one desires to leave. A massacre annihilates these absolutes for a Priestess, A Bureaucrat, and an Artist and they find themselves fleeing everything they trusted while they search for the truth. Will they be able to reveal a conspiracy that has existed since the foundation of their island bound empire? If so, are they willing to give up their lives and maybe even their existence just to have the facts come to light?
B) Alnanla has not always enjoyed her life as a Priestess and a Teacher, but at least she has always had her needs met like all the citizens of the Island of Nimoa. She has gazed at night up at the energy shield surrounding the sky of her island that keeps the flying monstrosities of legend out. Despite the fact this keeps her whole society free of strife, she has still wanted more. When a massacre occurs and she is the prime suspect she must team with a grieving Bureaucrat and an eternally optimistic Artist to find out what really happened. In doing so they reveal a conspiracy wrapped around every aspect of their society. Should they expose it and other dark secrets they find, risking their entire society’s destruction? Or should they quietly disappear into the night in order to preserve their way of life?
C) The shield of energy that surrounds and protects Nimoa from the monsters outside of the island means that all the people’s needs are met and no harm can come to any of it’s citizens. This truth is proven false when a horrific massacre occurs, and a teacher Priestess is blamed for it. In her quest for truth and survival she finds allies in a wealthy Bureaucrat and an eclectic Artist as well as one who claims to come from beyond the shield. Can four people withstand a conspiracy and other dark secrets that have held their society together since it’s foundation? More importantly, is it worth their own lives and a few lies to risk destroying a way of life that has given them all peace and safety for thousands of years?
As for other news:
Mandatory Paradise is now on it’s final editor! It has been through several, and this last edit is not really encountering any of the typos or normal issues that my drafts have had, due to the large amount of editors involved, and I am getting seriously excited.
The next Allmother’s Fire book is getting to about the 40% mark for the first draft, and part of that has already gone through multiple editors, as I plan to keep that up the whole time so as to minimize time needed between when I finish my first draft and final edits. At its current pace I may even have the second Allmother’s Fire in time for the Holidays!
This time it will again be about Mandatory Paradise, since that will be released earlier.
On the Island of Nimoa each person has a role, and the magical things they can do have to do with those roles. There are also two types of ways to sue the mana energy that is on the island, through moving the whole body or just ones hands.
Artists , Bureaucrats, and Craftsman work the mana energy with their hands to accomplish effects based on their roles (Artists make illusionary displays, Bureaucrats store and access information, Crafstman create, etc).
Soldiers, Priestess and Priests, Laborers and others of that nature most move their whole body to harness the energy and complete their tasks. Be it dance, a memorized fighting style, or even the ritualized way one stomps grapes, the whole body must move for these amazing uses of the island’s energy to work.
It is said it is impossible for anyone to use both forms of body movement and hand movement, as they are inherently separate ways to access the gifts the island has given them.