Book Review: The First 50 Pages, by Jeff Gerke (plus free webinar)

 The title of Jeff Gerke's book caught my eye. I'm working on polishing my manuscript's first 50 pages to send to interested agents, and I'm also working on writing the first few chapters of my next book for a contest submission. My goal is to grab those agents and contest judges with my first pages. Gerke's new book, The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success is exactly what I need.

Gerke is a novelist and publisher, and has worked as an acquisition editor in the past. He reads from the slush pile all the time, and has a great sense of which manuscripts will make it and which will not. One of his recent books on the craft of writing, Plot vs. Character is another you may want to pick up.

Though The First 50 Pages is being released in November, Jeff Gerke will host a free webinar with Writer's Digest at noon EDT on Friday, Nov. 4, entitled "Your Novel's First 50 Pages: Why They Count, What They Do, and How They Can Wow Agents, Editors, and Readers." Click the link to sign up. After the webinar, you can decide if you're ready for the book.

Things I like about The First 50 Pages:

* The foreword is written by amazing writing teacher James Scott Bell.

* Gerke's introduction is so motivating and encouraging, I may make myself read it every month. If you'd like to check it out, you can read sample pages on Amazon or Scribd. You won't be disappointed.

* The first part of the book explains the submission process, and helps authors understand what editors and agents think and want and what makes them keep reading. Gerke also has a great perspective on the current shifts in publishing, and why this is a great time to be a struggling author. 

*  Ten separate chapters detail the key things your manuscript must contain in order to keep the attention of publishing professionals. From introducing your main character (and his normal world), to starting the inner journey, Gerke shares exactly what to do and how to do it.

* There's also a chapter devoted to how writers can keep the momentum going and engage agents and editors so they'll read past page fifty. 

If you're interested in checking out more, Gerke has a First 50 Pages Checklist to help writers diagnose problems with their manuscript. And Writers Digest has posted an excerpt where Gerke explains how to identify and fix stilted dialogue.

How do you make your first pages the best they can be? Do you use a critique group? A hired editor? Read books or blogs? And don't forget to sign up for Gerke's free seminar! I just did.


  1. I'm about 35 pages in on my next novel...I suppose it would be wise to check this out! LOL!! When I get back to Florida I'll see if it's available on Nook or Kindle.
    Thanks Debbie!

  2. It will be in ereader format for sure. You can even pre-order it. Definitely check out his free workshop. I'm all signed up.




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