The Art of Writing a Compelling Book Summary

Do you want to write a book summary? Or do you need to describe your book quickly to your niche readers? Regardless, writing a book summary is a scary process. In this blog, we will discuss the art of writing a compelling book summary and a few tips to master this art for self-publishing

A book summary is a like a movie trailer. It talks about the book more concisely and comprehensibly, where the book’s main plot is shared, the characters are described, and an overview is provided with a hint of suspense to kindle the readers’ attention. 

It is an abstract, when written beautifully, allows a person who hasn’t read the actual book to feel like reading the book. 

Why Write a Book Summary?

The art of writing a book summary is condensing a book and giving readers a compilation of the most important and interesting parts of what they will read, such as an abstract to a thesis study, a description of a story, or the synopsis of a novel. Here are a few reasons why writing book summary is beneficial for individuals

  • To help memorize what you read
  • To improve book writing skills
  • To narrate a book without being biased 
  • To improve research and study for self-publishing a book

Difference between Book Summary, Book Cover Description, and Book Review

Regardless of why you write a book summary, remember it is not a book review or book cover description. 

A book summary is a commentary of the book without any prejudices or biased opinions.  

A book description is a 100 – 200 words elevator pitch added on the book cover and to the metadata before self-publishing. It is more marketing collateral and less summary. 

And a book review is also a book summary but presents the writer’s thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the book. 

How Long Should a Book Summary Be?

Most writers use the following formula to summarize a book:

Book Page Limit / Number of Chapters = Number of Summary Pages 

However, in the book publishing industry, it is generally agreed that a book summary should be between 200 to 800 words, which works out to one to two pages. 

An Example of a Book Summary 

You can summarize many things – an essay, research paper, movie, novel, and even a meeting or show. You can also summarize an event that you attended or an incident that you experienced. For example, here’s a summary of the book “Knight in Shining Armour” by Jude Deveraux, one of the most revered romantic novels ever published. 

Knight in Shining Armour, a historical romance novel, follows the story of Dougless Montgomery, who’s visiting England for a romantic trip with her fiancé, Robert, and his snobbish daughter. However, a fight ensues between Dougless and Robert, leading to Robert stranding her on the grounds of an old church. 

As Dougless cries her heart out, resting her head on a tomb in the church, a man named Nicholas Stafford appears out of thin air, claiming to be a 16th-century knight. He is the same person on whose tomb Dougless had been resting her head while weeping. Nicholas tells Dougless that he was on a mission to right a wrong that was done to his family in his time before he was pulled from his chair centuries forward to this church by a crying lady. 

Despite her initial bewilderment and disbelief, Dougless realizes that Nicholas is telling the truth. 

Dougless and Nicholas, together, embark on an adventurous journey of time travel, love, and betrayal to overcome various challenges to right the wrong in the past. They fall into a complicated yet passionate love, knowing that Nicholas is from another time and is here for some specific purpose. 

While figuring out a way, they navigate the challenges of Nicholas’ family, the social norms and culture of both centuries, and the responsibilities they must fulfill in their respective lives. 

All in all, Knight in Shining Armour is a passionate love story of a 16th-century knight and a 20th-century independent woman and their journey to find a way to be together through time, space, family feuds, and responsibilities. 

Also, Read Our New Blog: Impact of Technology on Book Publishing 

How to Write a Book Summary

Structuring the Book Summary

Structuring a book summary is the first step of writing a book summary. It is also the trickiest part. Every author follows a different format for writing a book summary. But if you are a novice writer and this is your first attempt, we suggest preparing a rough and fair draft. 

Go one section at a time – if you have 25 chapters in your novel, write 26 sections of your book summary. The first section should introduce your story, characters, and setting; the rest 25 should summarize each chapter. 

Once you are done briefing each chapter, try to make it even more concise by eliminating fillers and clubbing two or more paragraphs until your summary is not over two pages.  

Remember that the purpose of writing a book summary is to help readers understand the book’s content quickly. The shorter the summary, the better for your readers.

Read the Book Thoroughly and Take Notes Simultaneously 

Read the book to understand what it is about. 

And take notes while reading it. 

Even experienced writers don’t remember everything they read. That’s why you must take notes or highlight the text in the book directly for future reference. 

The best way to read a book for summarizing is to have the mindset to teach the matter to a class, a group of friends, or peers.  

Make a List of Characters and Create a Story Line

It is important to write down all the important characters and note the main events in the order of their occurrence. 

This timeline will ensure your book summary has the necessary information in the correct order. 

Summarize Each Chapter As You Read

Write small summaries for each chapter to save the information you just noted. This will also make it easier for you to craft your final draft, especially when you are reading a lot of information in a short time. 

It isn’t necessary that the final draft must contain summaries from all the sections. However, writing shorter summaries for each chapter will give you enough time to fine-tune your book summary and eliminate unnecessary stuff that reveals too much about the book.

Summarising each chapter will also help you organize your thoughts and save time later on. 

To organize the process even better, bullet the key points. This will help your brain process small and crucial information much easier. 

While the key bullet points in a book summary will vary with each book, using a novel as an example, a good bullet practice should look like the following:

  • main characters 
  • supporting characters
  • important actions 
  • results of each action
  • secondary actions
  • important incidences
  • dates and locations 

Keep the Target Audience in Mind

Knowing your target audience is the key to knowing what they want to read and how to connect with them. 

So, it is a good idea to research the market and write the sections keeping your audience in mind, like what sections can condense and what can be elaborated a bit. 

Keep The Book Summary Brief and Ensure it Flows 

A summary is not rewriting the book – your book summary should essentially be 1% to 2% of your entire book. Keep the summary short and to the point with a maximum of five paragraphs, each not crossing 8 sentences.  

Most importantly, ensure that the transitions are incredibly clear and helpful and build momentum for the story. Your summary should also convey a short, gripping story of its own. Make sure it is worth the time of your reader. 

Add a Conclusion and Review Your Book Summary

Finally, end the summary with a conclusion. A conclusion is a part where you should present your main idea more precisely and might add an opinion or two. Remember to edit your book summary professionally, like how you’d edit a book before self-publishing. Also, proofread the summary in the Grammarly app before submitting it. 

Quick Read: How to Edit Like Pro with the Grammarly App

Wrapping Up

There are many benefits of writing a book summary. In fact, it is a professional job that pays well too. For a writer, summarizing a book improves writing and reading skills, enhances analytical skills and helps remember important details during research and study, which is also a part of novel and nonfiction book writing.

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