Agents and editors often stop reading manuscripts after just a few pages. After about five pages, they already have a clear sense of whether your work is right for them or not. How can they possibly make up their minds so quickly?
What is the magic of those first pages? It's hard to tell with your own work: you're too close to the story to know what's missing. Perhaps you've started at the wrong place. Or maybe you've tried too hard, and the voice is strained and unconvincing. Maybe you're confusing the reader with too much - or too little - information. Or the pages could be great, but the premise is weak... Or, it's also very possible that there's nothing "wrong" with your opening at all, and that with a few little but important tweaks everything will fall right into place.
When you receive a rejection, it's often in coded language: "Thank you, but I didn't fall in love with this," or "It's just not for me." What does this actually mean? Emerging writers struggle to get useful feedback - information that is specific and actionable - from writing professionals.
For a flat fee of $120, I'm offering a critique in which I will give you written feedback on the five opening pages of your novel or nonfiction book. Within ten days of sending me your #firstfivepages I will respond with thoughtful reflection on your work and concrete suggestions for improvement. My goal is to be honest and constructive, and to help you get the agent to ask for a full manuscript, or compel an editor to keep turning pages. I believe in inclusivity in publishing, and will offer a free #firstfivepages critique to self-identified writers of color.
It’s so difficult to know how best to start your work. Whether you're writing novels, short stories or memoir, you must bring your audience into the unique world of your story with confidence and creativity. Let me help you figure out how to do that.
If you want feedback on your query letter, feel free to send it to me as well as four pages from the opening of your book. The cost for this service is $180.
** Please note that I am happy to read in any genre except children's literature **
- Send the first five pages of your work-in-progress to email@example.com
- Twelve point font, double spaced, please.
- It's okay to finish a sentence or paragraph on pg 6 :)
- Let me know the following, as best you can:
- What is the genre? Take a guess if you're not sure. More information here and here.
- Do you have a one-sentence description of the project? If so, send it to me in your email. Please DO NOT send me an entire synopsis.
- Who is your intended audience? Try to be specific.
- Is this a first draft or the 10th or somewhere in between? Have you finished an entire draft yet or are you still developing the story?
- Send $120 via Venmo to @KatrinSchumann for five double spaced pages, or $180 for a query and four double spaced pages.
WHY I LOVE #firstfivepages
I've been writing professionally and publishing for almost 15 years, and before that, I was writing and working hard to get an agent. Over the years I've had multiple agents for different book projects, worked with a dozen editors at Top Five publishers, and snagged a film agent. I've edited and helped develop hundreds of books, and taught many sold-out classes on writing. One of my most popular classes is Ace the Opening.
Just like an agent or editor, I can tell within a few pages if I am compelled by someone's work or not. But even if the idea or writing doesn't speak to me personally, I have a clear opinion on whether the book is promising and why, and I can help you by sharing ideas on where it needs work.
When I was outside the gates, looking in, I never knew what the gatekeepers were really thinking. Agents and editors don't have time to tell you what really stopped them from turning your pages or asking for more. But I do. I have the time and it's work I love to do. After seven years of writing monthly blogs for GrubStreet, I've come to understand that I love helping writers tell their stories. Demystifying the first pages in a clear yet kind way, including suggestions for next steps and posing critical questions, is one of the best ways to do that.
Email me if you're interested.