How to Write a Back Cover Book Synopsis

You’ve finally done it; you’ve finished your first novel after years of toiling, typing and researching, and now you are ready to present your masterpiece to the world. The next step is grabbing the reader’s interest with a tempting back cover synopsis that leaves her guessing and wanting more. This is what will sell your book, according to Llumina Press. (See Reference 1.) Although it may seem tough to condense an entire novel into a short paragraph, it is actually somewhat easy. Adhere to specific guidelines when writing a back cover summary to pique potential buyers' interest.

List on a sheet of paper “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “Why” (see Reference 1). These words are the basic guidelines for any story. Each point also gives you the opportunity to appeal to many different people. Leave a couple of spaces between each word.

Jot down the basics according to the guidelines. Under “Who,” write the main character’s name and profession. For example, “John Doe, marine biologist.” Include relevant secondary characters as well.

Fill in a sentence indicating the basic plot of the story under “What.” This is what the story is about. For example, write “Preserving the habitat of native dolphins.” Keep it basic; do not give away any major plot points or climactic scenes.

Write the location, or setting, of the story under “Where.” If the plot has several locations, go with the one the characters interact with the most. Do not give away anything that could spoil a major point in the story. Instead, choose something basic, such as “Along the African coast.”

Jot down the character’s or plot’s motive under “Why.” What is the character’s motive for accelerating the plot? Write something like, “Due to the over-fishing of areas along the coast, dolphins are leaving their natural habitat.” Or, if the book is more about the character’s morals, stick with something like, “John Doe’s passion stems from untold memories as a captain on the open sea.” Again, do not give away too much. If you give away the character’s entire motivation, the reader will not be surprised by the book.

Organize the sentences and sentence fragments into a discernable paragraph summary. Keep the text provocative and tantalizing; leave the readers wanting more. (See Reference 1.) A short example could be, “John Doe, a troubled marine biologist haunted by his past, takes on a mission that could change his life. Accompanied by the mysterious Jill Waters, an activist with a heart of stone for mankind, John must tackle the African government and his own demons to save the creatures he is most passionate about--dolphins.” Do not get too wordy and do not over-summarize. Llumina Press says to avoid meager copy that does not include "hooks" to bait the reader.

Photo Credits
  • writing book image by AGphotographer from