Dec 10 2008
Many manuscripts get nixed on the first page. Here are a few things that publishers want to see early on.
1. Is it easy to read through? If your first page introduces many characters, fictional words, place names and the like, the story is probably a slog. If your first page is hard to understand, your manuscript is dead on arrival.
2. “Do I care about this story?” The easiest way to make a reader care is to give urgent, pressing goals to a likable protagonist. If nothing’s at stake, readers will probably find the story boring. If the reader doesn’t care on page one, your submission is in grave danger.
3. Does the author have a professional grasp of English? If the author has multiple typos on page one, they’re just going to assume the author is an amateur and move on to the next manuscript. Making a good first impression is important. Rule of thumb: If the first page has 3+ typos, the manuscript will not survive to page 2.
4. Does it look like the plot is going somewhere? If the first page gets bogged down in a geography lesson, or a winding prologue, or a lengthy exposition, the answer is probably no. Pacing the first page well is extremely important.