Which five pages?

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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tcrowley
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Which five pages?

Post by tcrowley » October 5th, 2010, 11:45 am

I've been reading a lot of submission guidelines and some say the first five pages but others seem to just say five pages period. Does that imply that they still want the first five page or should we try to choose the five most interesting pages? I specifically wonder how useful the first five pages are in a book that has a "twist" that makes the first five pages less relevant to the overall plot.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Jessa » October 5th, 2010, 11:49 am

Go with the first five. If your first five aren't good enough to hook an agent, they probably aren't good enough to hook a reader either and you need to work on them. Readers won't start with the 'twist', after all.

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Holly
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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Holly » October 5th, 2010, 12:03 pm

They want the first five, not any other five. Good luck.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by cheekychook » October 5th, 2010, 12:12 pm

Always the first five. Most agents have a rant somewhere or another about how they need to see how your book starts, not the best scene. They don't want to hear that things really get going after chapter 10 or that the action picks up at page 125----they want to see if the opening interests them and the writing is solid----and if so, they'll request more chapters or the whole thing.
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Mira
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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Mira » October 5th, 2010, 2:19 pm

This is a really interesting question. I agree with the above posters that they want the first five. And I've never heard about anyone asking otherwise...

But that's really interesting. What if you had an absolutely terrific stand-alone scene later in the book? It might be worth sending that instead. Yes, they might be miffed that you didn't do the first five pages, but if your pages are terrific, that might over come that...

I don't know. Interesting question.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Margo » October 5th, 2010, 2:54 pm

Mira wrote:What if you had an absolutely terrific stand-alone scene later in the book? It might be worth sending that instead. Yes, they might be miffed that you didn't do the first five pages, but if your pages are terrific, that might over come that...

I don't know. Interesting question.
Don't do it. They are more likely to think you're sending pages 175-180 (or whatever) because you know your first five pages are weak. They want the first five for a reason. The first five have to be every bit as sharp and engaging as everything else. If they are weak pages, fix them now.
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Re: Which five pages?

Post by pavloviandoggy » October 6th, 2010, 8:55 pm

I have a few questions slightly related to this. 1) Should the format of the excerpt be the same as the query? Because most emails use block text, but most manuscripts don't. 2) What if the pages end mid- sentence or mid-dialogue? Should we have a few lines extra or a few lines less?

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Jessa » October 6th, 2010, 9:01 pm

1) If you're emailing it in the body of an e-mail, my take is that most agents will be forgiving if the mailer eats your formatting. It happens, and they won't hold it against you. Unless they do, and really, do you want to work with that agent anyway? (*sob* Yes! I'll work with any agent!)

2) You should use enough to complete the thought. If you end a paragraph a couple of lines from the end of the page, stop there. If you need another few lines, go there. But, I would say, don't go more than a paragraph over or under if you can help it.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by pavloviandoggy » October 6th, 2010, 9:38 pm

Thanks Jessa!

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Quill
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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Quill » October 6th, 2010, 9:43 pm

Well, it sure ain't your best five individual pages from all over the manuscript. Found that out the hard way.

Not really. Just wanted to say it.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by cheekychook » October 6th, 2010, 9:54 pm

Quill wrote:Well, it sure ain't your best five individual pages from all over the manuscript. Found that out the hard way.

Not really. Just wanted to say it.
Ahh yes, reasons not to query very late at night, while angry, or drunk.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by Moni12 » October 20th, 2010, 8:59 pm

Along these same lines, is it okay to staple the pages if you're mailing them in? I was told probably not, but to just number and put my last name in a header. I plan to start sending queries out tomorrow (mostly email), but there is at least one that will go by snail mail.

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Re: Which five pages?

Post by cheekychook » October 21st, 2010, 10:27 am

Moni12 wrote:Along these same lines, is it okay to staple the pages if you're mailing them in? I was told probably not, but to just number and put my last name in a header. I plan to start sending queries out tomorrow (mostly email), but there is at least one that will go by snail mail.

No staples. No binding. Make sure your pages are numbered and yes, put your last name and the project title in the header ON EVERY PAGE (top left corner Smith/Best Novel Ever)

If you are sending larger amounts of pages (first three chapters, 50 pages, full) you still send the pages loose. You should put two rubber bands around them, nothing else.

Good luck!
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