Synopsis? Blurb? Logline? Tagline?

Because I have seen a lot of people using the words synopsis and blurb as if they are interchangeable, I think it’s time for a wee lesson.
If you are an author and you don’t know the difference, I want to know why? Why haven’t you checked? Why haven’t you jumped online and perused the interwebs to find out the difference between a synopsis and a blurb (or back cover copy)?

There is no excuse for using the words synopsis and blurb wrongly. They are completely different things.
A synopsis is a 1-3 page condensed version of your entire novel, it contains characters and the plot, and it goes from the beginning to the end. Yes, the end. It must contain the end of your novel. It is written in 3rd person regardless of how your novel is written. A synopsis is a tool that you give to agents, editors, and publishers. You do NOT put a synopsis on the back of a book or use it for marketing.
Why would you put a massive spoiler on the back of a book? I guess if you didn’t want anyone to ever read it then you would?
Got it? Good.

A blurb or back cover copy is a MARKETING TOOL. It does not contain your entire work boiled down. It does not show your super clever ending. It is designed to get people to read the book. It is a hook. It’s fun to write because you can be creative and play with the words as much as you’d like really. Also, if you’ve got a publisher you don’t tend to have to worry about writing the back cover copy, it’s usually done for you.
Do you see the difference?

One of those things is much harder to write than the other and no fun at all. Yes, it’s the synopsis. 🙂

Okay, so are we good?

Right, let’s go with loglines and taglines … yes they are different.
A logline is your story in a sentence or two. Often it’s something that is used as an intro to the blurb for marketing. You could also use at the beginning of a synopsis and on a cover letter. It’s a versatile wee thing. It’s what you say to people when they ask what your book is about.
Start with who, when, what and why then play around until you find something that works.

Waking to reports of her own death starts a string of dangerous events for SSA Conway.

[Leave a message]
A former spy receives an unusual phone call from a missing intelligence officer.

A tagline is shorter than a logline and it’s something you could use on the front cover (if you didn’t have a quote from another author) and you’d use it on posters and social media posts.
Time is running out.

Who do you believe?

The point is it’s shorter and supposed to catch people’s attention.

You can use a logline to explain a series without giving too much away: The Byte Series follows SSA Ellie Conway on her journey as a member of an elite FBI team that thrives on dark humour, close relationships, and mayhem.

Anywho, do you now understand why you don’t use synopsis and blurb as if they are interchangeable?
Good, then stop it. It’s fucking annoying for those of us who understand the difference.

And next time someone asks you what your book is about you have the perfect opportunity to use a logline. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Synopsis? Blurb? Logline? Tagline?

  1. Those really are different things, and if you want to work successfully with an editor, publisher, publicist, or just about anyone, you need to know the difference. Granted, when you’re just starting out, the lines can seem a bit blurred, you really do have to learn.

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