Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 2, 2014

First Page Formatting Mistakes – First Page Critiquer


The above illustration is February’s First Page Picture Prompt. I was illustrated by Michael Garland, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday on August 31, 2013.  Here is the link.

I didn’t want to wait until Friday to talk about the first pages, because February is short and I want everyone to know and understand the following, so everyone will have a chance to be chosen:

Last month we had a large number of submissions for the First Page Critique. Unfortunately, many people did not use the industry standard for formatting their page and I had to pull ten winners to get four that were formatting properly. I could not in all good consciousness send in something that would not put your best foot forward. I wanted Sean to critique the first page on the substance of the work, not be distracted by the inexperience of how to format.

The biggest reason for a submission being eliminated: Not double spaced and no indented paragraphs or dialog. No one was eliminated for forgetting to paste the text in the body of the email or for not using the requested text in the subject area.

The first thing everyone should learn is to follow submission guidelines. You never want to send something in and have it tossed, because you didn’t follow directions. It is easy to miss something. I have seen submissions where the person forgot to put their name on their work. You never want to give an editor or an agent a reason to reject your work without even reading your first line.

Think about this scenario: The editor/agent has read your submission and likes what they’ve read, but there is no name on the submission. Will they take the time to try to discover who you are? One editor told me how much she liked a submission, but could not find out who sent it to her. That probably was that writers big break, but it went down the tubes and she will never know. Don’t let that happen.

It seems that most of the mistakes were made by picture book writers, so I asked Ame (Boy + Boy) Dyckman to send me a copy of her submitted manuscript, so I could share it with all of you. Here it is:

amemanuscript allisonmooreAllison Moore Assistant Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will be February’s Guest Critiquer. Check back on Friday for all her information. Deadline for first Pages this month is February 21st.

Here are the submission guidelines for Sending in a First Page.

To send in a First Page: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page 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 “February First Page Critique” or “February First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt to inspire a first page.

Please include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Here are a few links from other posts on formatting:

Good luck with following the submission guidelines.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Hi Kathy! Thanks for the info. I’m wondering about rhyming picture books. Since these are often written in stanzas, would they be justified to the left? Also, I’m assuming wordless or dialogue only books would look totally different as well.Thanks!


  2. Great post. Where could I find a link to the proper manuscript submission


  3. Very helpful post. Thank you, Kathy. 🙂


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