The opportunity to purchase a critique session with an editor or agent ends on February 15th. For just $25 you get to participate in an intimate group of 5 writers and an industry professional who have their fingers on the pulse of the publishing world. It’s their job to know what the reader wants.
To help you prepare, I reached out to our participating agents and asked for a quote of what they considered essential in those first pages and got the following advice:
“Don’t waste your precious real estate laying groundwork–LEAP into your story” ~ Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
“The most important thing I’m looking for in first pages is a character I can root for — this may be because they’re funny, smart, kind, decisive, or they have a sympathetic goal, but there need to be some reason for me to know from the start I want to follow their story.” ~ Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
From Christina Alexandra’s blog on critique sessions, The feedback was incredible. My group had six people in it–five authors and one editor, and this was the first time anyone other than a few select individuals had read my work. Having several people who didn’t know me and weren’t familiar with Regency romance comment and make suggestions was filled with surprises. Most of the issues discussed were ones I had found after I hit send (doesn’t that always happen?), but others were a surprise to me. Each person picked up on something different and no one had the same thing to say. Another surprise was hearing “Oh, I’ve been waiting for this one” and “I want it” coming from the editor in my group. Talk about incredible surprises!
And from my personal experience, how a critique of the first 10 pages changed a manuscript from a miss to a sale: Many years ago I had a new critique partner join a group I was part of and the first thing I had to tell her was I didn’t like her heroine. The woman was a friend of another person in the group so I asked for some guidance on how to share this negative review. The sage advice was to tell her why. I had to re-read the work to come up with the answer, but it was something I could clearly pin point. The heroine hated first. She was at her grandmother’s death bed and she showed no sympathy, no affection, no sorrow. She was full of anger and hate. It turns out she had good reason for her feelings but I didn’t know that. I suggested how much more powerful it would be if, during her grandmother’s final hour of need, the heroine showed sympathy for the woman who had been so hateful to her. It was simple enough to fix once the problem was identified. My critique partner went on to sell that manuscript so this is truly an example of how changing the first 10 pages resulted in a publishable book.
Make sure your manuscript is the best it can be with the input of fellow authors and an experienced industry professional who knows what readers want. Sign up now. Pages due 2/21/17.
A fifth generation Californian, Teresa Carpenter lives in San Diego within miles of her extensive family and knows with their help she can accomplish anything. She takes particular joy and pride in her nieces and nephews who are all bright, fit, shining stars of the future. If she’s not at a family event, you’ll usually find her at home reading or writing her next grand romance.
To find some of the books by Teresa, please go here.