Speaking as an reader, what’s the number one question people ask you about your reading?
For me, that question is, “Can you quickly tell me what this book is about?” This could be true for a writer as well. People will often ask you “What is your book about?”. It’s often a puzzlingly difficult question to answer with any sort of brevity.
In this article, I have made an attempt to share how can one write a great summary of a book. This could be important for a writer as well as reader. For writers, this will help you to pitch your book in right manner. Readers can show that they completely read the book.
A good book summary should tell your reader four key things about the novel/book:
- Who is the main character (for fiction) or the Central theme of the book (non-fiction)
“who”/”what” in the cosmic sense. Tell your readers something that will help them instantly relate to the book or at least get them excited about the book.
- What is the Central Conflict of the Story (for fiction) / What is the USP of the book or what makes this book stand out from the other similar books (non-fiction)
Fiction: What does your protagonist want? And what’s preventing her from getting what she wants? If your book has a villain, introduce him/her here. Use your summary to establish the stakes of your story—but in broad strokes only. Remember, you don’t want to spoil any major plot beats for your readers!
Non-Fiction: For self-help or other non-fiction book, you write about the uniqueness or difference between this book and rest. Cover the topics at a great height – you dont want people not to read the book but here you should give enough reasons for the readers to pick up that book.
- The Genre of Your Book
Have you ever picked up a book that described its plot as a galaxy-spanning sci-fi romp, only to find steamy, earth-bound erotica in the pages? Or anticipated a historical romance—only to have a flock of dragons show up?
There are few things more jarring to a reader than a genre bait-and-switch. That’s why it’s important to establish the genre of your book in your summary: even if you believe the genre doesn’t affect the plot in any meaningful sense, your readers still want a sense of what they’re committing to before they buy and read your book.
This is true for both Fiction and non-fiction books.
- Why you liked the book
Every reader is different and summary is only your point of view. So do mention what made to pick up that book and why you liked the book. You may not want to write the summary of the book which you didnt like because you may not be excited at all to talk about something you didnt like.
Keep these points in mind and write or talk about the book. People will love to hear more from you :)