Sum it all up

March 19, 2016


Last week we talked about covers, this week it’s on to summaries! As a reader you wander through the shelves at the bookstore (Or wade through them on Amazon) and you spot a cover that grabs you’re attention, you pick the book up.


You’re not going to make your purchase decision based on the cover alone. Most readers then move on to the summary.


If your summary is poorly written, extremely long, or makes no sense, the reader will put the book back down and move to another.


Your summary should give the reader a good idea of what it’s about, without giving away too much of the story. You want something concise, but gives information to interest the reader. I made the mistake of writing a very long summary for the first book of Chosen. It took up most of the back of the book. It wasn’t until I asked for feedback that someone told me they got bored part of the way through it and gave up.


You certainly don’t want to bore readers by droning on. They won’t buy your book and they may not look at any future books you publish for that reason.


The summary should be as well written as your book. Use proper spelling and grammar. Nothing makes me cringe more than the folks online who write in text speech. No one is going to take you seriously as an author if you write that way. If I see a summary written like this: OMG u need to find out what happens when Mary Smith finds out her entire family is a bunch of spies! Mary doesn’t fit in bc she’s like a total klutz!


I am not going to read your book. If the summary is that awful, how is your actual book?


Don’t start a summary: In which Mary Smith discovers she’s part of a family of spies …


The reader knows the summary is about what takes place in the book, you don’t need to tell them the story takes place in the book. Not to mention it sounds strange when you read it. I’ve actually read summaries that start that way and the second I see that beginning, I run.


Spelling and grammar need to be proper as well, if you aren’t certain you’re using a word correctly or spelling it right, consult our friend Google. A dictionary works too!


Take as much time figuring out how to word and write your summary as you would any part of your actual novel. It should flow well and grab the reader, making them want to crack open that cover and read.


Let’s go back to poor Mary Smith the super spy klutz …


 Mary Smith loves her family and they love her in return, even if she is a super klutz that trips over her own feet. She’s content with her life, until the day she discovers a secret her family has been hiding from her.


Her family members are all super spies. They’ve kept it from her because, well, she can’t take two steps without tripping and falling flat on her face.


Can Mary the super klutz become part of her family’s spy life or will she trip it all up?


A short summary that gives you a look at what the book is about without giving it all away, while drawing the reader in. Now they want to know if Mary becomes a spy or possibly shoots herself in the foot or creates some other disaster.


I used to hate writing summaries, it wasn’t a story and it seemed hard. I’ve learned how important it is and forced myself to become better at it.


It isn’t hard once you figure out how to incorporate the information you need and balance it with your writing skills to make it as wonderful as your book.


Challenge yourself, write a summary for one of you stories, then rewrite it, and make it different. Practice is all it takes.


Now, go write!

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© 2012 by Victoria Kaer