Announcing the 2020 Publishing Talk

🎄 Christmas Book Giveaway 🎄

Publishing Talk Christmas Book Giveaway

Hello friends,

Is it too early for a Christmas book giveaway? Of course not! We're well into December now. Some of my neighbours put their trees and lights up weeks ago. This is our biggest ever Christmas book giveaway. To celebrate our forthcoming online masterclass with #1 Kindle bestseller Nicola May, we're giving you the chance to win signed print copies of ALL FOUR books in her chart-topping Cockleberry Bay series - including the just-published, fourth and very festive Christmas In Cockleberry Bay.

See our Instagram post for details on how to enter. And read on to find out more about our forthcoming masterclasses, a new project you can get involved with, and this week's Tip of the Week.

Enter our Christmas Book Giveaway on Instagram

Forthcoming Masterclasses

DECEMBER: How to Become a Kindle Bestseller - with Nicola May

Places are filling up on our first online masterclass with the sensational #1 bestselling Kindle author Nicola May. This is your chance to ask Nicola anything about self-publishing success.

How to Become a Kindle Bestseller takes place on Weds 9th Dec 2020.

Book Now

How to Build a Writing Habit in 2020 - with Bec Evans - Online, 6th Jan 2021JANUARY: How to Build a Writing Habit in 2021 - with Bec Evans

If you want to write more in 2021, you don't need a New Year's resolution - you need a sustainable writing habit!

How to Build a Writing Habit in 2021 is led by business author and productivity expert Bec Evans of Prolifiko, and takes place on Weds 6th Jan 2021.

Book Now

From the Blog: Advice for Writers - Call for Submissions

Advice for Writers - Call for submissionsAre you a published author? What’s your top piece of advice for new and emerging authors?

Our core purpose at Publishing Talk is to educate new authors. If you’re a published author (traditional or self-published), I’d love to involve you in a new project.

I'm collating short pieces of advice from published authors to help new writers - to use in a blog post, on social media - and possibly in an ebook. I’m also interested in hearing from you if you’re a creative writing tutor, agent, editor or other industry professional with valuable advice to share. For more details, and to find out how you can get involved, see this call for submissions. Hope to hear from you soon!

Read More

Book of the Week: Christmas in Cockleberry Bay

Of course, this week's Book of the Week is Nicola May's recently published and fabulously festive Christmas in Cockleberry Bay, the fourth in her bestselling Cockleberry Bay series.

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay is available from,, and our Publishing Talk bookshop, which helps support local booksellers in the UK. You can also find books for writers and much more there.

You can find out more about Nicola's self-publishing success secrets in her masterclass next week - and be in with a chance of winning all four books by entering this year's Christmas book giveaway on our Instagram account.

Visit our Bookshop

Tip of the Week: Read Synopses on Wikipedia

If you're looking for a literary agent, one of the things you'll need to submit to them is a synopsis of your book. This is something that can cause confusion: what exactly is it, what should you include, how long should it be - and where can you read some examples?

A synopsis gives a complete overview of your novel. Start with a one-sentence premise, then get more detailed. Write out everything that happens, in the order in which it happens, in the present tense. Keep it to no more than two pages. Brevity is key, so cut out any waffle, and anything we don't need to know.

But don’t hold anything back – let us know how your story ends! You might have intriguing twists, turns and reveals in your novel that you want to hold back from the reader – but don’t do this with your prospective agent or publisher. This is no time to be coy or worry about spoilers: they need to know everything that happens.

You can still build tension in the way you write your synopsis, and keep the reader intrigued. Do this by only revealing plot points at the correct time in your synopsis. So don’t say: ‘…and he later turns out to be the killer all along’ in your opening paragraph. Save that information until the part of the story when it is revealed to the reader. Then your synopsis can be as engaging and satisfying as the full book.

But where can you find examples? Book blurbs are no good. Yes, they're short summaries of books - but they're written in a different style for a different purpose. They're selling copy, and they certainly don't give everything away. The place I often turn to for good, succinct examples of synopses is Wikipedia.

Search for any of your favourite books, and you'll get a 'Plot Summary'. This is basically a synopsis, written in pretty much the correct style for submission to an agent. Only do this with books you've actually read, though (or that you don't mind seeing spoilers for) - because everything about the plot will be revealed! Look at literary classics, recent bestsellers, anything similar to what you're writing, plus a few favourites.

One of my favourite authors is Margaret Atwood, and I particularly like The Blind Assassin - I think because of its complex, fractured narrative structure and the novel-within-a-novel-within-a-novel thing. But even a novel as long and complicated as that (656 pages) can be summarised in three paragraphs.

It can also be useful to do this for films or Netflix series. Particularly if, like me, the synopses you most often write are for screenplay treatments. Again, make sure you've watched them first, unless you don't mind spoilers! I recently watched The Queen's Gambit on Netflix, for example (it really is as good as everyone says), and the Wikipedia entry offers a good example of how you can briefly and accurately summarise the overall premise, series and individual episodes. Look, too, at the Wikipedia entry for the book it's based on - which summarises the premise in one sentence and the plot in a further four.

Or try Breaking Bad - a huge series over five seasons and 62 episodes. Yet you can find a short, one-paragraph premise for the whole series, single paragraph summaries of each season, and a paragraph for each episode. There's no need to go over a page or two for your synopsis - you can fit it to any length, and it's a good writing exercise to do so.

Read a few plot summaries this week, and see if they inspire you to write a brief synopsis for your current work in progress - or even for something you plan to write in the future. It's a great way to keep you focused on the key elements.

More next week. Meanwhile, you can read more about the submissions process in my blog post How to get published - 6 steps to a traditional publishing deal.

All best,

Jon Reed
Founder, Publishing Talk
Copyright © 2020 Publishing Talk, All rights reserved.

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