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Summary vs. Synopsis

When you're trying to entice a publisher to take a look at your work, they will undoubtedly ask you to send them a summary and/or a synopsis, along with sample chapters. Most of the time, publishers like to see no more than a page. Imagine how many proposals they get each month, and put yourself in their shoes. You'll have more attention paid to your proposal if it's short, succinct, and it grabs their attention quickly. Here's a example of each taken from two different books I've written. Note: I usually include by short biography at the bottom.

A Short Summary of the Novel, Lucia, (110,000 words), by Ty Spencer Vossler

Lucia is a self-made Mexican woman, determined not to allow sexual relationships interfere with her eventual goal of earning a PhD in Algebraic Topology. Lucia is twenty-two when she has her first sexual experience, and she has to learn how balance her enthusiasm for mathematics with the desire for new sexual experiences.

Lucia captures the diversity of the Mexican culture, and delves into the double standards imposed on women who wish to have equal footing with men. She strives to control her life and to expect more of herself than Mexican tradition allows for.

The novel follows her progress for twenty-six years and highlights her sexual relationships with over twenty men (and one woman) during this time period. Following her marriage to a North American, she maintains a quest for new experiences with other men, which often leads to inner and outer conflict.

Lucia has je ne sais quoi—that indefinable something that attracts men to her like bees to a flower. She never disappoints those fortunate enough to push the right buttons. Lucia touches on subjects seldom written about—menopause, cultural suppression, double standards, and the hidden realm of a Latin woman’s enduring passion for life.

Ty Spencer Vossler (MFA) currently lives in Oaxaca, Mexico with his BMW (beautiful Mexican wife) and their daughter. In the past two years, Vossler has published over fifty pieces of work, including novels, many short stories, poems and essays. He attributes his originality to the fact that he shot his television over two decades ago.

Synopsis of Meadowland (66,850 words) by Ty Spencer Vossler

Chapter 1: Bottom of the Ninth

Grant lives failed baseball dreams through son, Robert, causing a family rift. When Robert discovers a mint condition, Ty Cobb, trading card worth a fortune, things go from bad to worse, yet the chapter ends with a new understanding of what really matters in life.

Chapter 1: Fly in the Ointment

Sam Villarreal is a garbage collector for the Meadowland Sanitation Department. He’s married with two children. His wife, Miriam, works at Rite-Aid. Together they barely make ends meet. Sam meets Donna, who lives in a gated community with Warren, her wealthy (doctor) husband. Neglected by Warren, Donna decides to spice it up with Sam.

Chapter 3: Double Cross

Jim’s been serving God for thirty years. He writes sermons in the attic of his home because he feels closer to God there. His wife, Mildred, has meatloaf ready for dinner. Jim hates meatloaf. He rereads a letter from a high school girlfriend he’s secretly kept all these years. As Mildred repeatedly calls him to dinner, Jim’s faith in God steadily deteriorates. Mildred suffers an untimely end.

Chapter 4: Owen Hears Voices

Owen Zelenski has a dead-end job teaching high school English. In his spare time he writes a book entitled, The Journal of Desperate Living, and self publishes. Voices in his head, repressed for years with medication, begin whispering again, and life takes him on a twisted roller coaster ride toward a shocking finale.

Chapter 4: Owen listens to the Voices

Owen takes advice from the voices, quits his job, buys a Harley, and rolls out of town. He finds misadventure, danger, and an intolerant world. His thoughts are clear, yet he’s only able to share them with the voices in his head.

Chapter 5: Owen Becomes the Voices

Owen imagines himself as a shipwrecked alien, who survives on Earth by consuming the positive energy (Shine) of human beings. Subsequent adventures are filled with insight, horror and the sadness—alienated by a society that can’t begin to understand.

Chapter 6: Eleventh Summer

Four eleven-year-old boys find Owen at the river, where he lives as a transient. The boys have seen him before, collecting aluminum cans around town. They also discover marijuana growing in Folgers Coffee canisters, which leads to an unforgettable ending, filled with angst, murder, and a guarded hope for the future.

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