This is a question that is often asked at writing meetings and events.
Some highly established writers claim to have never written a synopsis in their life - such as Dee Williams and Iris Gower.
Others, like Marti Leimbach, tell you it is harder to write than the actual novel. Whereas, some very lucky people like Lee Weatherly claim they are easy to write.
You can read Lee Weatherly's Tips on How to Write a Synopsis on Candy's excellent blog Notes from the Slushpile. Unfortunately, I lost my notebook which had all my notes from the Lee Weatherly talk – I kept saying to myself it was bound to turn up and it never has. I may have left it on the train!
Then, I have been told at conferences by agents and publishers they don't even read the synopsis. You should have heard me groan at that news. I spent hours and hours on mine and they're not even going to read it. I could have stood up and screamed. Is a synopsis a waste of time?
But, other editors and agents have said – much more recently – they read the synopsis first and if they don’t like it don’t bother reading the rest. Arrggghhhh!
So, what do we do?
I believe the most important thing is how good your writing is. But, I do think a synopsis is a useful tool to see how well the story hangs together and if it has a defined beginning, middle and end. So I will persevere with my synopsises and hope they help me to clarify my own story, even if they are not being read.