Wednesday, June 02, 2010

OH MY GALOSHES, Noah Lukeman was RIGHT! by Cherly Wyatt

Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. Her books have received an RT Reviewers Choice Award and a Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence final. Find out more or join her newsletter in the space provided at 

OH MY GALOSHES, Noah Lukeman was RIGHT!

In case you’re wondering, the galoshes are because we have been bombarded by rain this week.

Sloshing onward…

Noah Lukeman, esteemed Literary Agent and bestselling author of many popular craft books, penned one of my favorites: The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying out of the Rejection Pile.

If you are an aspiring author and don’t yet have it, do yourself and your chances at publication a favor and purchase one for your Keeper Craft Bookshelf. His book can be purchased here:

In it, Lukeman discusses common writing mistakes that are across-the-board to new writers. He talks about the importance of Presentation…the immediate, out-of-the-gate perception that your first five pages will give to potential editors or agents.

In short, you have one shot within these first-impression pages to reel in or repel them.

Sounds harsh, I know, but you have to understand how intense the competition is and the astronomically high number of stellar submissions agents and editors get on a regular basis.

This is not meant to discourage you. This is meant to give your story a better shot at standing out among the multitudes.

This is VITAL information you MUST know if you are an aspiring author serious about breaking in: For two years in a row, I’ve been polling agents and editors from ABA and CBA about how long they read submissions before they know whether the manuscript is a go or a definite no go. I suspected that many of them would know by the end of the first ten pages, but was shocked at the outcome of this poll.

I phrased the question like this: If you are, or have been an acquisitions editor, or an agent, and have time to answer this question, I'd appreciate it. This is for a conference workshop.

Question: The majority of the time, how long do you MOST COMMONLY read material from a slush pile before you (usually) know for certain a manuscript will receive a "pass" verdict?

Please respond with one letter below.

A. First line.
B. First paragraph.
C. By the end of page one
D. Within three pages
E. Within five pages
F. Within ten pages
G. By the end of the first chapter
H. Within the first three chapters or before fifty pages
I. Mid-book
J. By the end of the book
K. Other (Please explain)

Without having seen anyone else’s response, A WHOPPING 97% of the hundreds polled gave “C” as the answer!!!

That means ONLY a handful of those interviewed gave an alternate answer.

NO ONE gave an answer beyond G other than ONE new literary agent who said he or she would actually read the entire manuscript. I’d be interested in knowing if this agent has since changed their mind about that. LOL!

In summary, how important is the first page of your manuscript? Crucial.

My advice?

STRIVE for absolute excellence in that first page.

Then write EVERY page as if it were your first page.

Thanks for being with me today. I’d love to know what your personal first-page weakness is.

Maybe in sharing, it can help others struggling.

Everyone who leaves a comment below will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Deadline to enter is Midnight June 3, 2010. Be sure to leave a valid e-mail address so we can contact you should you win.

Steadfast Soldier by Cheryl Wyatt
Steeple Hill Love Inspired-IN STORES NOW

Rescuing people is his job…

But the one person pararescue jumper Chance Garrison can't seem to help is his own ailing father, who refuses his much-needed physical rehabilitation. That is, until Chance hires unconventional occupational therapist Chloe Callet. To his surprise, Chloe and her sweet black Lab, Midnight, work wonders. And not only on the elder Garrison. Chance just may have met the woman who can get through his own toughened exterior. Can he persuade the lovely Chloe to take a chance—on him? 

Purchase Links:  


Project Journal said...

Hi Cheryl *waves*

I always seem to be able to hunt you down *wink*

I have to say, to answer you question, I would've said C!! So, I guess I would've been!

I can't imagine being an editor. I bet I wouldn't be that good at it either. I'd rather read the final product. Okay, let me rephrase that. I don't mind editing for friends, they always seem to come to me, lol! However, doing it for a career....uh-uh *shakes head NO* wouldn't be a good career move for me ; )

Talk to you soon,

MommaMindy said...

At a writers conference I heard an editor's comment, "If I like the first line, I might read the first paragraph. If I like the first paragraph, I might read the first page. If I like the first page, I might read the last page. If I like the last page, I might consider the manuscript."

My favorite take-away advice today was "STRIVE for absolute excellence in that first page. Then write EVERY page as if it were your first page." I'm still striving!

Carrie Turansky said...

Great Advice, Cheryl! Thanks for sharing. My first page weakness would probably be wordiness. I know my writing needs to flow smoothly and move forward, so I'm working on that. : )

carrie (at) turansky (dot) com

Jennifer Tiszai said...

There really is so much to pack into the beginning of a story, particularly picking the right place to start the story. I think in everything I've written, I've gone back to the beginning to hack/slash/rewrite/repeat more than any other section of the book. I find it the hardest to get right.


Hey Cheryl, great advice as always. It's a wonderful reminder to published authors, too, to keep putting our best work out there and not get sloppy just because we have a few books under our belt. Thanks for sharing!

Cindy W. said...

Many times I find myself thinking I'd love to be an editor. These are usually when I pick up a book that by the third chapter they've lost me.

I struggle with the first paragraph let alone the first page. I do great dialogue but a book can't stand alone with dialogue. I could really use Mr. Lukeman's book. Thank you for the opportunity to win it.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Marti Pieper said...

I don't have a first-page fiction weakness yet because I'm still planted in the nonfiction world. But I'm learning all I can. And your advice holds true for nonfiction, too. If you can't wow them with the first page, you've lost them.

Editors are the gatekeepers, but they represent our readers. Our responsibility: write words that compel their reading. Thanks for speaking the truth!

A J Hawke said...

Ah, that elusive something that catches the interest. If we just knew what that was it wouldn't be so difficult to at least get a reading.

Please enter me in the give away. I need all the help I can get.

A J Hawke

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Thanks for all of your responses so far! Excellent feedback.

I think my main first page weakness (I have others-LOL!) is pacing.


Diane Marie Shaw said...

Wow, your survey results were sobering. I've heard how important those opening lines are but this put the fear in me of getting it RIGHT.
Please enter me in the drawing.
Thank you for doing the survey, I know that took time.
Diane Marie Shaw

Angela Breidenbach said...

I believe it now. I've been helping other writers lately. I'm finding coaching items in the first paragraph. Those things continue and must be corrected extensively. When I first started out, I thought it was unfair to only read the first page. Now, several years and a lot of classes later, I so understand that you really can make a decision that quickly on a manuscript.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

CONGRATS to Diane Shaw who won Noah Lukeman's book.

Thanks all for stopping by! God's best to you in your writing endeavors.


Diane Marie Shaw said...

Thanks, I look forward to receiving Noah's book.
Thank you for this blog that offers so much to writers.