Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 16, 2011

Why Is Your First Page So Important?

Moonrat says, “Assume whoever is reading your submission is going to be in a terrible mood when they look at page 1.  You just don’t have until page 2.”

Who’s Moonrat?  Well, she says, “I’m a recovering editorial assistant. I’m like most of my kind: impoverished coffee-and-gin survivalists, underpaid but ambitious, bitter but hopeful. Painfully self-conscious, woefully self-congratulatory, willfully self-indulgent. Yes, I’m white, but I’m trying to get over it. Accurate spelling (to the dismay of my boss) is not among my interests. So read forgivingly.”

I’m posting what she (I’m assuming Moonrat is a female, but I could be wrong) had to say about the subject back in June 2010, so you can get a feeling of what editors’ go through.  I’m hoping to convince you on why working on your first page is important.  Particiapting in first page prompts can help strengthen your writing muscle.  Here’s Moonrat:

Heaps and heaps and heaps of manuscripts. At the moment, all of them fiction. 90% of them debut novels. All of their authors hoping desperately for a book deal, for a home for their beloved novel.

When I read submission after submission after submission–which, let’s face it, is everyday–my mind starts to dull. My eyes begin to glaze from all the white on black. My butt begins to hurt from sitting. I’m pretty hungry (because I’m always pretty hungry), and this is making me cranky. As the day wears on, I get irritable. The reading gets faster, and the disappointments stack up more quickly.

I don’t want to reject books–I want to buy them! But I can’t buy something that I’m not passionate about. So many of these manuscripts are only 60% of a book I’d want to read. There are different reasons they don’t fit the bill–maybe the content doesn’t interest me personally; maybe I don’t like the writer’s style; maybe there’s nothing special about the book, it’s just adequate. Maybe the agent didn’t do a great job of pitching it, and I was expecting something other than what I got.

Or maybe it’s a beautiful, perfect, exquisite book, exactly the book I’ve always dreamed of publishing. But I’ll never know, because the first page was CRAP.

There are different ways to create a crappy first page. Boringness. Cliche. Too many fancy schmancy words. Immersing your audience too quickly into the action. Immersing them too slowly.

Yeah, I know, it’s basically impossible to win at this game. But YOU MUST TRY.

Above all things, YOU MUST BE SPECIAL.

You can read more on her blog Editorial Ass:

You still have a few days to send in your December First Page Prompt.  Editor Heather Alexander from Dial Books for Young Readers is our guest critiquer. 

Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first age to an e-mail and send it to kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Put “December 20th First Page Prompt” in the subject line.

ILLUSTRATORS:  Still hoping a few illustrators will step up and send something for their word prompt, “Celebrate.”  I am sure some of you might already have an illustration that would fit.  I’m just trying to provide another venue for illustrators to show off their work. 

Please send a 500 pixel wide .jpg by December 27th to kathy(dot)temean(at) I will post on December 31st.  It would be a wonderful way to end this year and welcome in the new.  Please put “Celebrate Submission” in the Subject box, so I don’t miss it.

Also I would like to put up an illustration each day until the end of the year.  You can send a blurb about you and I will put it  up along with a link to your site.  Make sure you note in the Subject Box. “Holiday Illustration.”

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Moonrat is VERY funny lol I’m glad you found her blog. Great stuff! And my guess is “she’s” a female, too. I mean, who else would talk about overeating that way? lol


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